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Jenkins v. Logicmark, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

January 26, 2017

NEVIN JENKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
LOGICMARK, LLC, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION (GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS)

          Henry E. Hudson United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant LogicMark, LLC's ("Defendant" or "LogicMark") Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (ECF No. 7), filed on November 21, 2016.

         The Court will dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the materials before the Court, and oral argument would not aid in the decisional process. E.D. Va. Local Civ. R. 7(J).

         For the reasons stated herein, the Court will grant the Motion and will dismiss Plaintiff Nevin Jenkins's ("Plaintiff or "Jenkins") Complaint without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         As required by Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court assumes Plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations to be true and views all facts in the light most favorable to him. T.G, Slater & Son v. Donald P. & Patricia A. Brennan LLC, 385 F.3d 836, 841 (4th Cir. 2004) (citing Mylan Labs, Inc. v. Matkari, 7 F.3d 1130, 1134 (4th Cir. 1993)). At this stage, the Court's analysis is both informed and constrained by the four corners of Plaintiff s Complaint. Unfortunately, Plaintiffs Complaint contains little in the way of facts and instead relies heavily on legal conclusions and naked accusations. Nevertheless, viewed through this lens, the Court determines that the alleged facts are as follows.

         Plaintiff is the owner of the entire interest in the four patents at issue in this case: (1) U.S. Patent No. RE41, 845, reissued on October 19, 2010, and first issued as U.S. Patent No. 7, 231, 200 on June 12, 2007; (2) U.S. Patent No. RE41, 392, reissued on June 22, 2010, and first issued as U.S. Patent No. 7, 315, 736 on January 1, 2008; (3) U.S. Patent No. 7, 933, 579, issued on April 26, 2011; and (4) U.S. Patent No. 8, 548, 422, issued on October 1, 2013. (Compl. ¶ 8, ECF No. 1.) All four patents teach personal emergency communication systems and have a number of independent method and apparatus claims. (See Id. ¶¶ 11-16.)

         On September 9, 2016, Plaintiff filed a ten-count Complaint against LogicMark, [1]alleging that three of Defendant's products-namely, its "Guardian Alert, " "Life Sentry, " and "Freedom Alert" systems-infringe his four patents. (Id. ¶¶ 20-109.) Plaintiff alleges direct infringement, contributory infringement, inducement of infringement, and willful infringement. (Id.) Jenkins provides a number of "exemplary" claims from each of the four patents-in-suit to support his assertions. (See Id. ¶¶ 11-16.)

         Each allegation describes one of the three accused products, stating that it "provide[s] a personal emergency communication system, including a user-carried portable communication unit with a button which, when depressed by the user, sends a call request signal to a base unit, and provide[s] a base unit that initiates a telephone call through a dial-up network to an emergency responder in wireless voice communication with the portable unit when the call is connected, and ultimately provides user access to a[n] emergency responder." (Id. ¶¶ 17-19.) With reference to the "Life Sentry" system, the Complaint further adds that it "provides placement of a voice communication with an operator at the emergency center in wireless voice communication with the portable unit when the call is connected, wherein a program is used to set up the system to a selected one of a central monitoring station and a 911 operator and wherein the units are programmable selectively by phone, voice or computer." (Id. ¶ 18.)

         These two passages represent the full extent to which Plaintiff attempts to plead facts alleging infringement of "owe or more of the claims of the [asserted] patent[s]." (Id. ¶¶ 20, 29, 38, 47, 56, 65, 74, 83, 92, and 101 (emphasis added).) Plaintiff makes no effort in his Complaint to specify which claims are allegedly infringed or how they are infringed.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The analytical framework for reviewing motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim is well settled in both the Fourth and Federal Circuits.[2] "A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of a complaint; importantly, it does not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses." Republican Party of N.C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted). The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure "require[] only 'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the ... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" BellAtl Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). A complaint need not assert "detailed factual allegations, " but must contain "more than labels and conclusions" or a "formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (citations omitted). Thus, the "[r]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level" to one that is "plausible on its face, " rather than merely "conceivable." Id. at 555, 570.

         In considering such a motion, a plaintiffs well-pleaded allegations are taken as true and the complaint is viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. T.G. Slater, 385 F.3d at 841 (citation omitted). Legal conclusions enjoy no such deference. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).

         Subsequent to the abrogation of Form 18 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, all patent complaints filed after December 1, 2015, are subject to the normal pleading standards of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a).[3] See Order Amending Fed.R.Civ.P. (U.S. Apr. 29, 2015).

         III. ANALYSIS

         In his inartfully drafted Complaint, Plaintiff does little more than recite the elements of direct infringement, contributory infringement, inducement of infringement, and willful infringement in alleging that LogicMark's products somehow infringe his four patents. Because each of the ten counts in the Complaint is nearly identical-merely stating various combinations of the allegedly infringing products and Jenkins's patents- the Court will address the sufficiency of the claims themselves instead of analyzing each count.

         a. Direct Infringement

         The standards enumerated by the Supreme Court in Iqbal and Twombly are strictly applied in direct patent infringement cases. See Macronix Int'l Co., Ltd. v. Spansion Inc.,4 F.Supp.3d 797, 803 (E.D. Va. 2014) ("[T]o exempt patent complaints from the requirements of Twombly and Iqbal is to ignore a fundamental rationale that underpins those decisions."). These guidelines "require counsel to focus complaints only on viable claims. Thus, before filing a complaint, counsel must ...


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