The Software IP Report

Notice Pleading Contributory and Induced Patent Infringement

Bare bones allegations that a defendant knew of a patent, and intended others’ infringement, were not enough to sustain allegations that the defendant indirectly, i.e., contributorily and by inducement, infringed the patent.  DR Systems, Inc. v. Avreo, Inc., No. 11-CV-0932 (S.D. Cal. March 29, 2012).

The plaintiff’s complaint simply alleged that the defendant knew of the patent, and intended that products it supplied be used in an infringing manner.  However, inducement requires alleging facts showing that the defendant knew of the patent-in-suit, and further requires facts supporting an allegation that the defendant intended to induce infringement.  Likewise, contributory infringement requires that a defendant had actual knowledge of the patent-in-suit, obligating the plaintiff to plead facts showing that the defendant had such knowledge; a bare-bones allegation that the defendant knew of the patent is not enough.

Thus, similar to the reasoning in Gradient Enterprises, Inc. v. Skype Technologies S.A, the court here explained that “because Form 18 [of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure] does not address induced infringement or contributory infringement, the heightened pleading standard of Twombly and Iqbal apply to allegations of induced infringement and contributory infringement.”  Therefore, the court granted (without prejudice) the defendant’s motion to dismiss in part the plaintiff’s complaint.