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Centrip Networks, Inc. v. Keysight Technologies, Inc.

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

November 15, 2017


          OPINION & ORDER


         This matter came before the Court pursuant to Defendants Keysight Technologies, Inc.'s ("Keysight's") and Ixia's (collectively, "Defendants'") Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Centrip Networks, Inc.'s ("Plaintiffs" or "Centripetal's") Complaint ("Motion"). Doc. 20. The Court heard argument on this Motion on November 14, 2017, and reserved ruling on the Motion. After further consideration, and for the reasons stated herein, the Court DENIES the Motion WITHOUT PREJUDICE to renewing the same arguments under Rule 12(c) after the Markman hearing or at the summary judgment stage.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Allegations [1]

         This action arises from the alleged infringement of four (4) of Plaintiffs patents: U.S. Patent No. 9, 264, 370 (the '"370 Patent"), U.S. Patent No. 9, 137, 205 (the "'205 Patent"), U.S. Patent No. 9, 560, 077 (the '"077 Patent"), and U.S. Patent No. 9, 413, 722 (the '"722 patent"). Doc. 1 ("Compl.")¶¶6, 9-15.

         Plaintiff Centrip is a network security company incorporated in Delaware with its principal place of business in Herndon, VA. Id. ¶ 1. Defendant Keysight is incorporated in Delaware with its principal place of business in Santa Rosa, CA. Id. ¶ 2. Defendant Ixia is incorporated in California with its principal place of business in Calabasas, CA, and as of April 18, 2017, is owned by Defendant Keysight. Id. ¶ 3.

         Plaintiff accuses the Ixia ThreatARMOR devices of infringing the '370 Patent, accuses those devices when used with Ixia's Application and Threat Intelligence servers, such as Ixia's Vision One devices, of infringing the '205 Patent and the '722 Patent, and accuses either setup of infringing the '077 Patent. Id. ¶¶ 16-62. Plaintiff seeks damages; injunctive relief; enhanced damages for willful infringement; attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses; and pre-judgment and post-judgment interest. Id. at 36-37.

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed its Complaint in this Court on July 20, 2017. See Compl. The Parties filed a consent Motion for and extension of time to respond to the Complaint, Doc. 8, which the Court GRANTED, Doc. 12. Defendants timely filed the instant Motion on September 5, 2017. Doc. 20. They simultaneously filed a Motion to Transfer Venue Under Section 1404(a) or Dismiss for Improper Venue. See Docs. 23-24. They also filed an Answer. Doc. 29. Plaintiff responded in opposition to the instant Motion on September 19, 2017. Doc. 30. Defendants replied on September 25, 2017. Doc. 36. During the pendency of this Motion, Defendants have also filed three notices of additional authority from the Federal Circuit related to the issues in this case. Docs. 43, 46, 47.


         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a motion to dismiss tests the sufficiency of a complaint; 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). "To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal. 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly. 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)); see also Venkatraman. 417 F.3d at 420 ("In considering a motion to dismiss, we accept as true all well-pleaded allegations and view the complaint [or counterclaim] in the light most favorable to the plaintiff [or counterclaim plaintiff]") (citing Mvlan Labs., 7 F.3d at 1134). A complaint establishes facial plausibility "once the factual content of a complaint allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Nemet Chevrolet. Ltd. v. Inc.. 591 F.3d 250, 256 (4th Cir. 2009) (quoting Iqbal. 556 U.S. at 678). Therefore, the complaint need not include "detailed factual allegations" as long as it pleads "sufficient facts to allow a court, drawing on judicial experience and common sense, to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct." Id. Although a court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations, the same is not true for legal conclusions. "Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal. 556 U.S. at 678.

         In deciding the motion, a court may consider the facts alleged on the face of the complaint as well as '"matters of public record, orders, items appearing in the record of the case, and exhibits attached to the complaint.'" Moore v. Flaestar Bank. 6 F.Supp.2d 496, 500 (E.D. Va. 1997) (quoting 5A Charles A. Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1357 (1990)). The court may look to documents attached to the complaint and those incorporated by reference without converting a Rule 12(b)(6) motion into a Rule 56 motion for summary judgment. See Pueschel v. United States. 369 F.3d 345, 353 n. 3 (4th Cir. 2004) (citations omitted).

         When the Complaint alleges patent infringement, the Court may consider patent eligibility through a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) because eligibility is a question of law. See, e.g., Peschke Map Techs. LLC v. Rouse Properties Inc.. 168 F.Supp.3d 881, 884 (E.D. Va. 2016). The Federal Circuit has recognized that claim construction "will ordinarily be desirable-and often necessary-to resolve claim construction disputes prior to a § 101 analysis, for the determination of patent eligibility requires a full understanding of the basic character of the claimed subject matter." Bancorp Servs.. L.L.C.. 687 F.3d at 1273-74. Nevertheless, this District has often decided patent eligibility without claim construction. See, e.g.. Peschke Map Techs. LLC. 168 F.Supp.3d at 884; Orbcomm Inc. v. CalAmn Corp. No. 3:16cv208, 2016 WL 3965205, at *2 (E.D. Va. July 22, 2016), on reconsideration in part. 215 F.Supp.3d 499 (E.D. Va. 2016); Asehari-Kamrani v. United Servs. Auto. Ass'n. No. 2:15cv478, 2016 WL 3670804, at *3 (E.D. Va. July 5, 2016). Whether the patent has a presumption of validity at this stage is an open question. Compare Ultramercial. Inc. v. Hulu. LLC. 772 F.3d 709, 720-21 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (Mayer, J., concurring) (denying the presumption because Alice challenges address failures of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to properly consider an issue) with CLS Bank. Int'l v. Alice Corp.. 717 F.3d 1269, 1304-05 (Fed. Cir. 2013) (en banc) (Rader, J., concurring-in-part, dissenting-in-part) (applying the presumption in order to cabin the judicially created exceptions to patent eligibility).

         III. ...

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