In November 2015, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were changed to eliminate a short form plaintiffs could use to file complaints for patent infringement. That form, in essence, allowed a plaintiff to simply identify the asserted patent(s) and the accused product(s) and generally allege that a defendant infringed. Notwithstanding the elimination of this template, pleading standards are often still fairly liberal. Under case law, plaintiffs must allege factual details sufficient to allow a “reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the alleged misconduct.”
In this case, the plaintiff, Disc Disease Solutions, identified the accused products, but only generally alleged that those products met “each and every element of at least one claim” of the asserted patents. The plaintiff did not include any claim charts or element-by-element analysis of its infringement allegations. It only attached the asserted patents and photos of the accused products. The district court held that the complaint included insufficient detail to meet the required pleading standard. The Federal Circuit reversed. The Federal Circuit concluded that the complaint, with the attached patents and photos of accused products, provided “fair notice” to the defendant. The court poin
ted out that the technology and patents were relatively simple. The photos of the accused products provided enough information to create a “reasonable inference” that the defendant might infringe. While the pleading standard has become stricter since the rule change in late 2015, the key takeaway here is that plaintiffs may be able to get away with bare pleading, if the technology and patents-at-issue are somewhat simple and can be understood on their face.