Federal Circuit Summaries

Before Reyna, Wallach, and Stoll. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

Summary: A complaint that attaches the asserted patents, specifically identifies the accused products by name and with photos, and alleges that the accused products meet each and every element of at least one claim of the asserted patents, is sufficient, for at least simple technologies, to survive a motion to dismiss under Iqbal/Twombly.

Disc Disease sued VGH for infringement of two patents directed towards spinal brace technology. The following day, amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure took effect, abrogating Rule 84 and Form 18. VGH filed a motion to dismiss under 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6) and the district court granted VGH’s motion to dismiss with prejudice. The district court concluded that the abrogation of Rule 84 and Form 18 applied to Disc Disease’s complaint and that the “Iqbal/Twombly” standard now applied. The district court held that Disc Disease’s complaint did not meet the Iqbal/Twombly reasonability standard because it merely alleged that certain VGH’s products “meet each and every element of at least one claim” of Disc Disease’s patents and failed to explain how the products infringe.

On appeal, Disc Disease argued that the district court improperly applied the Iqbal/Twombly pleading standard because Form 18 was in effect on the date the original complaint. The Federal Circuit, however, reversed and remanded for different reasons. It instead held that Disc Disease’s allegations were sufficient under Iqbal/Twombly. The Court reasoned that for at least a simple technology such as this, the complaint appropriately identified the three accused products—by name and by attaching photos of the product packaging as exhibits—and alleged that the accused products meet “each and every element of at least one claim of the [asserted patents], either literally or equivalently.” Such disclosures and allegations were enough to provide VGH fair notice of infringement of the asserted patents.