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In re Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. KG Litigation

July 6, 2009

IN RE PAPST LICENSING GMBH & CO. KG LITIGATION
THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO: PAPST
v.
SANYO ELEC. CO., LTD., 08-CV-1405 (N.D. ILL. NO. 08-CV-3608) AND PAPST V. SANYO ELEC. CO., LTD., 09-CV-530



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosemary M. Collyer United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

In 2008, Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. KG ("Papst") filed a bare-bones complaint against Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. and Sanyo North America Corp. (collectively "Sanyo"), alleging that Sanyo infringed two patents owned by Papst, U.S. Patent Nos. 6,470,399 and 6,895,449 (the "Patents"). See Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. KG v. Sanyo Elec. Co., Ltd., Civ. No. 08-1405 (D.D.C.) (the "2008 Case"). Sanyo moved to dismiss the 2008 Case for failure to state a claim, and the Court granted the motion. See Opinion & Order [MDL Dkt. ## 254 & 255].*fn1 Papst filed a motion to reconsider, and the Court amended its Order to note that the dismissal was without prejudice. See Opinion & Order [MDL Dkt. ## 273 & 274]. As a result, Papst filed a new Complaint against Sanyo. See Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. KG v. Sanyo Elec. Co., Ltd., Civ. No. 09-530 (D.D.C. 2009) ("2009 Case"), Compl. [Dkt. # 3] ("2009 Complaint").

Sanyo now requests dismissal of the 2008 Case with prejudice, which would necessarily result in dismissal of the 2009 Case. Sanyo contends that the 2009 Complaint was not timely and that it fails to allege sufficient facts to state a claim for patent infringement. Sanyo also seeks attorney fees and sanctions. As explained below, Sanyo's motions will be denied.

I. FACTS

Papst's original complaint in the 2008 Case against Sanyo alleged:

A reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery is likely to provide evidentiary support the Sanyo Defendants have made, used, sold or offered to sell to numerous customers in the United States or have imported into the United States digital cameras which infringe the Patents in Suit.

2008 Case, Compl. [Dkt. # 1] ¶ 10 (emphasis added). When Sanyo moved to dismiss, Papst requested leave to file an amended complaint that would allege:

Upon information and belief, the Sanyo Defendants have made, used, sold or offered to sell to numerous customers in the United States or have imported into the United States digital cameras which infringe the Patents in Suit.

Papst's Opp'n [MDL Dkt. # 230], Ex. A. The Court found that Papst failed to state a claim because it failed to include any information about the circumstances giving rise to the claim. Papst v. Sanyo Elec. Co., Ltd. (In re Papst Licensing GMBH & Co. KG), 585 F. Supp. 2d 32, 35 (D.D.C. 2008) [MDL Dkt. # 254 and Dkt. # 30 in Civ. No. 08-1405].

On reconsideration, Papst argued that it had compared Sanyo camera models to each element of at least one claim in the Patents. Papst's Mot. to Alter, Amend, or Vacate J. ("Papst's Mot. to Alter J.") [MDL Dkt. # 258] at 2-5. Papst alleged that "[d]uring a course of discussions before bringing suit, Papst gave Sanyo claim charts showing, element-by-element, how the claims of the Patents-in-Suit read on Sanyo digital camera models. (Ex. A, Norton Decl., [filed under seal pursuant to protective order])." Papst's Mot. to Alter J. at 3. "As illustrative examples of Sanyo's infringing cameras, Papst identified Sanyo's digital camera models VPC-E60EX, VPX-S6 XACTIO [sic], and VPC-E6EX." Id. Further, Papst asserted that its counsel met with officials representing Sanyo on July 7, 2006, and at that meeting provided detailed claim charts showing how the Sanyo VPC-56 XACTI Digital Still Camera allegedly infringed Claim One of U.S. Patent Number 6,895,449. Id. at 4.

As a result, on March 5, 2009, the Court amended its dismissal to reflect that it was without prejudice. See Opinion & Order [MDL Dkt. ## 273 & 274]. The Court ordered that "Papst may file a new complaint against Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. and Sanyo North America Corp. in conformity with the Memorandum Opinion issued with this Order no later than March 16, 2009. Should Papst fail to do so, this case then will be dismissed with prejudice." Order [MDL # 274] at 1. On March 18, 2009, Papst filed a new complaint in the 2009 Case. Sanyo seeks dismissal with prejudice, of both the 2008 Case and the 2009 Case, claiming that the 2009 Complaint was not timely and fails to set forth sufficient facts to comply with the March 5, 2009 Opinion.*fn2

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the adequacy of a complaint on its face, testing whether a plaintiff has properly stated a claim. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a complaint contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a). A complaint must be sufficient "to give a defendant fair notice of the claims against him." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964 (2007). Although a complaint does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the grounds of his entitlement to relief "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id. at 1964-65 (internal citations omitted). Rule 8(a) requires a "showing" and not just a blanket assertion of a right to relief. Id. at 1965 n.3.

A court must treat the complaint's factual allegations as true, "even if doubtful in fact," id. at 1965, and must draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Macharia v. United States, 334 F.3d 61, 64, 67 (D.C. Cir. 2003). Even so, the facts alleged "must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level," Twombly, 127 S.Ct. at 1965, and the court need not accept as true inferences unsupported by facts set out in the complaint or legal conclusions cast as factual allegations. Browning v. Clinton, 292 F.3d 235, 242 (D.C. Cir. 2002). "[A] complaint needs some information about the ...


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