LOURIE, MOORE, O’MALLEY
September 7, 2017
Brief summary: DC grant of Trim-Lok’s motion to dismiss Lifetime’s infringement complaint reversed and remanded since, e.g., LT adequately “alleged that an agent of Trim-Lok installed the seal onto the RV”.
Summary: Lifetime (LT) appealed DC grant of Trim-Lok’s motion to dismiss Lifetime’s infringement complaint regarding US 6,966,590 relating to a “two-part seal” with a slide-out room (formed by extending a portion of the sidewall outward) in recreational vehicles. LT’s first complaint was dismissed for failing to “adequately identify the product or products that allegedly infringed”, but was gratned leave to amend that complaint twice (the first and second amended complaint (“FAC” and “SAC”, respectively). LT alleged “two of its engineers” (Busch and Torrey) “with knowledge of the ‘590 patent and the Lifetime products that it covered left Lifetime and began working for Trim-Lok” and shortly thereafter “Trim-Lok, for the first time, was offering for sale a two-part seal for an RV with a slide-out room at a plant run by Forest River, an RV manufacturer” (“the Forest River plant”). LT alleged that Trim-Lok either directly or indirectly infringed…by causing the two-part seal to be installed on the RV at the Forest River plant”, “‘influenced Forest River’ to include the two-part seal in their RVs, ‘knowing that such combination would fulfill all elements of at least one [‘590] claim” (induced infringement), and that “the two-part seal sold by Trim-Lok had only one purpose-for use on RVs with slide-out rooms” (“not staple articles of commerce suitable for noninfringin use”; contributory infringement). The DC decided against LR because, e.g., “the claims require both a two-part seal and an RV, and Trim-Lok only manufactures seals” and it “had only made conclusory allegations that Trim-Lok had acted knowingly and intentionally”. The FC panel explained the pleading standard requires “a complaint [to] ‘contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face’…that allows the court to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant is liable” (Iqbal, US 2009; Twombly, US 2007; compared to the pre-Dec. 1, 2015 “Form 18” standard). And it agreed with LT that the SAC adequately alleged that Trim-Lok directly infringed” since it “alleged that an agent of Trim-Lok installed the seal onto the RV” (which Trim-Lok does not make), “and that resulting seal-RV combination infringed the ‘590 patent” (“assembling the components of an invention is an infringing act of making the invention” (Siemens, FC 2011; Golden Blount, FC 2006; Cross Med. Prods., FC 2005); “no requirement …to ‘prove its case at the pleading stage’” (Bill of Lading, FC 2012). It also explained that to survive indirect infringement, an allegation “must plead facts plausibly showing that the accused infringer ‘specifically intended [another part] to infringe [the patent] and knew that the [other party’s] acts constituted infringement” (Bill of Lading (alleged infringer had knowledge of patent and customers performed the claimed method)), and agreed LT “had plausibly alleged” those facts. The FC panel also agreed with LT regarding its contributory infringement allegations since it “requires ‘only proof of a defendant’s knowledge, not intent’” (Hewlett-Packard, FC 1990). The DC decision was therefore reversed and remanded.