United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
MACRONIX INTERNATIONAL CO., LTD., a Taiwanese Corporation, Plaintiff,
SPANSION INC., a Delaware Corporation, et al., Defendants.
E. Payne, Senior United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO
DISMISS (Docket No. 22), filed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief can
be granted. For the reasons set forth below, the motion will
be denied in part and granted in part.
October 2, 2013, Macronix International Co., Ltd.
("Macronix") filed this civil action against
Spansion Inc. and Spansion LLC ("Spansion")
alleging that Spansion had infringed one or more claims of
seven patents owned by Macronix. By Order entered November 1,
2013 (Docket No. 13) (the "November 1 Order"), the
Court, sua sponte, concluded that "the
Complaint failed to satisfy the fundamental requirements of
Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544
(2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009),
" and ordered Macronix to file an Amended Complaint
which Macronix did on November 20, 2013 (Docket No. 17)
("FAC"). The original Complaint was of the
boilerplate variety modeled upon Form 18 in the APPENDIX OF
FORMS at the end of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (the
"Appendix") and referred to in Fed.R.Civ.P. 84.
November 1 Order directed Macronix to file an Amended
Complaint "that, in all respects, conforms with the
pleading requirements of Twombly and Iqbal
and that, in particular, recites the specific claim or claims
which are alleged to be infringed, and the elements thereof
that are alleged to be infringed by the allegedly infringing
product, and how that product is alleged to infringe those
elements." The November 1 Order also directed that the
"Amended Complaint shall satisfy in the same way
Twombly and Iqbal, as respects the alleged
infringement under the doctrine of equivalents."
contends that the FAC fails to comply with the requirements
of the November 1 Order insofar as the FAC asserts claims of
direct infringement whether by way of literal infringement or
under the doctrine of equivalents. That argument, in essence,
is that, as to claims of direct infringement, the FAC does
not pass muster under Twombly and Iqbal.
then argues that the FAC fails adequately to allege claims
for induced infringement, for contributory infringement, and
for willful infringement. As to induced infringement,
Spansion contends that Macronix has not asserted the
knowledge element of an induced infringement claim for four
of the patents-in-suit and that the FAC alleges no facts
suggesting that Spansion had knowledge of or specific intent
to induce any infringing conduct by a third-party. As to
contributory infringement, Spansion contends that Macronix
has failed to allege that there are no substantial
non-infringing uses of Spansion's accused products, thus
failing to allege an element of contributory infringement. As
to willful infringement, Spansion contends that the FAC
pleads no facts showing that Spansion was aware of the
asserted patents before Macronix filed this action and that,
because pre-suit knowledge is a critical element of a willful
infringement claim, the FAC is legally insufficient as to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 (a), "[a] pleading that states a claim
for relief must contain ... a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief." Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), if the complaint
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the
complaint is to be dismissed.
2007, the Supreme Court of the United States set forth a new
standard to be applied in assessing whether, under Rule
8(a)(2), a claim was articulated sufficiently to permit a
court to conclude that, if its allegations were proved,
relief could be granted. In so doing, the Supreme Court
retired the standard of sufficiency under Rule 8(a)(2) that
was set in Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41 (1957). In
Conley, the Supreme Court had assessed what was
required for a legally sufficient complaint as follows:
The decisive answer to this is that the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure do not require a claimant to set out in
detail the facts upon which he bases his claim. To the
contrary, all the Rules require is 'a short and plain
statement of the claim' [citing Rule 8(a)(2)] that will
give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff s claim
is and the grounds upon which it rests. The illustrative
forms appended to the Rules plainly demonstrate this.
Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. at 48. In
Twombly, the Court changed significantly how the
legal sufficiency of a claim is to be measured when it is
attacked under Rule 12(b)(6). As one eminent scholar of
federal civil procedure has said of Twombly
"Notice pleading is dead. Say hello to plausibility
pleading." A. Benjamin Spencer, Plausibility
Pleading, 49 B.C. L. Rev. 431, 431-32 (2008). That is
because the "liberal pleading standard of Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) has been decidedly tightened (if
not discarded) in favor of a stricter standard requiring the
pleading of facts painting a 'plausible' picture of
liability." Id. Two years after
Twombly, the Supreme Court expounded more fully on
the topic in Iqbal. And, as the Fourth Circuit has
put it, "Twombly and Iqbal announce a
new, stricter pleading standard." Nemet Chevrolet,
Ltd. v. Consumeraffairs.com, Inc., 591 F.3d 250, 262
(4th Cir. 2009) (Jones concurring in part, dissenting in
the Supreme Court explained in Twombly,
"[w]hile a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, ... a
plaintiff's obligation to provide the 'grounds'
of his 'entitle[ment] to relief requires more than labels
and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements
of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations . omitted).
Therefore, the "[f]actual allegations must be enough to
raise a right to relief above the speculative level. . .
." Id. Twombly then made quite clear that:
While, for most types of cases, the Federal Rules eliminated
the cumbersome requirement that a claimant 'set out
in detail the facts upon which he bases his claim,
' Rule 8 (a) (2) still requires a
'showing, ' rather than a blanket assertion
of entitlement to relief. Without some factual allegation
in the complaint, it is hard to see how a
complainant could satisfy the requirement of providing
not only 'fair notice/ of the nature
of the claim, but also 'grounds' upon which
the claim rests.
Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3.
(emphasis in original and added). Explaining the relationship
between Rule 12(b)(6) and Rule ...