Judge Sleet denies motion to dismiss indirect infringement claims and claim for damages for failure to comply with marking statute

Judge Gregory M. Sleet recently denied defendant Zonoff Inc.’s motion to dismiss plaintiff Icontrol Networks, Inc.’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.  Zonoff Inc. v. Icontrol Networks, Inc., C.A. No. 14-1199-GMS (D. Del. July 31, 2015).  Zonoff moved to exclude Icontrol’s claims for failure to adequately plead indirect infringement and joint infringement, and for damages.  Judge Sleet found Icontrol’s allegations of induced infringement sufficient as Icontrol alleged “facts supporting a plausible inference that Zonoff had knowledge of the patents-in-suit”; and “that Zonoff took various actions supporting the plausible inference that it intended its customers to infringe the patents-in-suit.”  Id. at 2 n.1.  Judge Sleet noted that a plaintiff is not required to “‘prove its case at the pleading stage.'”  Id. (quoting In re Bill of Lading Transmission & Processing Sys. Patent Litig., 681 F.3d 1293, 1340 (Fed. Cir. 2012) (summary of opinion by Dennis Crouch available at Patently-O).  Regarding contributory infringement, Judge Sleet found that Icontrol adequately pled that Zonoff’s accused products had no substantial non-infringing uses because it pled that “Zonoff’s software must infringe no matter how it is used . . . . ”  Id.  Judge Sleet also rejected Zonoff’s argument that Icontrol was obligated to plead joint infringement because “the claims at issue are not so clear that the court is able to make such a determination [that the method claims implicate joint infringement] without more information.”  Id.  Finally, Judge Sleet rejected Zonoff’s argument that Icontrol’s claims for damages should be dismissed because Icontrol did not allege that its products complied with the marking statute, 35 U.S.C. § 287.  Id.  Judge Sleet noted that Zonoff had actual notice of infringement at least as of the filing of the complaint and that the “notice requirements imposed by § 287 do not apply to all patented inventions,” such as patents directed to a process or method.  Id.

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