Cascades AV LLC v. Evertz Microsystems Ltd., No. 17 C 7881, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 11, 2019) (Durkin, J.).

Judge Durkin denied defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff’s patent infrignement claims in this patent case involving lip-synching patents and defendant Everetz’s accused fingerprint reading systems.

Direct Infringement

Citing Disc Disease Sols. Inc. v. VGH Sols., Inc., 888 F.3d 1256, 1260 (Fed. Cir. 2017), the Court held that specific facts were not necessary to plead infringement. Fair notice only required identification of the patents and a claim, even a general one, that they infringed an identified product. Plaintiff Cascades – a predecessor entity to J. Carl Cooper – went beyond that making specific allegations regarding each element of the asserted claims.

Indirect & Willful Infringement

Both indirect and willful infringement required knowledge of the patents. Cascade claimed that it put Evertz on notice via letters that sought resolution of patent disputes, without providing claim charts, identifying specific products, or any infringement analysis. The Court held those letters were sufficient to plead notice at the Rule 12 stage because they claimed infringement, offered to discuss the dispute and “at least implied” infringement by the eventually accused product. Cascades also pled sufficiently egregious circumstances for willfulness by providing details of Evertz’s various refusal to respond to Cascades’ pre-suit communications. Whether or not those communications actually led to willfulness was a question more appropriate at the summary judgment stage.

Induced Infringement

Even though Cascades’ claims otherwise lacked factual support beyond conclusory statements of the law, the Court denied Evertz’s motion as to induced infringement because Cascades pled knowledge of the patents, that Evertz sold products with infringing features and that Evertz used them at trade shows.

Contributory Infringement

As with the induced infringement claims, the additional elements for contributory infringement were “conclusory recitals” of claim elements. The Court held that was sufficient, noting that “numerous” courts had allowed similar claims because of the “obvious difficulty” plaintiffs have in pleading a negative without discovery first.