A patentee need not anticipate non-infringement arguments or identify infringing products or devices in its pleading to adequately state a claim for direct patent infringement in conformance with Form 18.
K-Tech Telecommunications, Inc. v. Time Warner Cable, Inc., et al., No. 2012-1425, -1446 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 18, 2013).
The patentee appealed the district court’s decision to dismiss its first Amended Complaint in two separate actions. The Federal Circuit consolidated the appeals due to the substantial factual overlap in the cases. It held that the district court applied the incorrect standard in its evaluation of the adequacy of the patentee’s complaint and that district courts must evaluate complaints alleging direct infringement by reference to Form 18.
The patents at issue relate to methods and systems for modifying channels and carrier frequencies to identify television programs. The complaint alleged that Time Warner Cable (“TWC”) and DirecTV infringed the patents at issue by “making, selling, and offering to sell, in this judicial district, systems and methods for modifying a major channel number, a minor channel number, and/or a carrier frequency to identify a television program . . .”
In its opinion, the district court stated that “Plaintiff does not explain why it believes that Defendant is utilizing the methods and products protected by the Asserted Patents to update the digital signals it receives, rather than using other non-infringing methods and products.” On appeal, the court quickly dismissed this rationale holding that patentees need not prospectively anticipate non-infringement arguments in their complaints.
The alleged infringers argued that the sufficiency of the complaint with respect to Form 18 must be analyzed consistently with the Iqbal and Twombly standards and that the complaint must identify the allegedly infringing devices. The Federal Circuit held that conformance with Form 18 does not require defendants to identify specific products or devices and that, a pleading must only provide notice and facial plausibility to satisfy the appropriate analysis of a complaint alleging direct infringement in light of Form 18.
A copy of the opinion can be found here.