Judge Fallon Recommends Dismissal of Claims for Indirect Infringement and Willfulness in Multi-Defendant Patent Case Where Plaintiff Failed to Sufficiently Allege That Defendants had “Actual Knowledge”

In Monec Holding AG v. Motorola Mobility, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 11-798-LPS-SRF (D. Del.), Magistrate Judge Fallon recently issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims for indirect infringement and willfulness be granted. Id. at 1. In the case, plaintiff filed suit against multiple defendants alleging willful, direct and indirect infringement of a patent relating to an electronic book technology. Id. at 1-2. Specifically, in its first amended complaint, as bases for its claims of indirect infringement and willfulness, plaintiff alleged that: (1) “Defendants instruct their customers, both retailers and end-users, on infringing uses of the Infringing Products”; (2) “Defendants knew or should have known that the Infringing Products were especially made for use in an infringement of [the patent-in-suit]”; and (3) “there is no substantially noninfringing use of the Infringing Products.” Id. at 2. In support of its allegations that defendants had actual knowledge of the patent-in-suit, plaintiff further alleged that because defendants’ competitors had been engaged in litigation with plaintiff involving the same patent at issue in this case, and because that litigation received substantial press coverage, defendants in this case were aware of and would have likely followed and monitored that litigation. Id. at 1-2.

The Court disagreed, concluding that plaintiff had failed to allege sufficient facts from which the Court could infer that defendants had actual knowledge of the patent-in-suit at the time they committed the allegedly infringing activities. Monec Holding at 8-9. The Court found that plaintiff’s assumption that defendants would have known about the patent-in-suit based on the litigation activities of their competitors was not enough. Id. at 8. The Court also found that the plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege willful blindness or that the defendants somehow purposefully avoided knowledge of the patent-in-suit. Id. at 12. In addition, on the issue of intent, the Court found that plaintiff’s “conclusory averments” contained no factual support to establish the requisite intent and that marketing activities of the defendants, absent more, do not demonstrate that defendants knew such activities were infringing or that defendants had the specific intent to encourage another’s infringement. Id. at 13. Likewise, on the issue of willful infringement, the Court found that plaintiff failed to sufficiently allege how or why defendants would have known that the patent-in-suit applied to their allegedly infringing activities or that defendants acted in “deliberate disregard” of plaintiff’s rights. Id. at 16.

Monec Holding AG v. Motorola Mobility, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 11-798-LPS-SRF (D. Del.)

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