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Addventure Products, Inc. v. Weinberg

May 5, 2008

ADDVENTURE PRODUCTS, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROBERT WEINBERG, ET AL., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING MOTIONS TO DISMISS FOR FAILURE TO STATE A CLAIM, DENYING WITHOUT PREJUDICE MOTIONS TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF PERSONAL JURISDICTION, AND GRANTING JURISDICTIONAL DISCOVERY

Defendants Robert Weinberg ("Weinberg"), Whitson Wells PMG, LLC ("Whitson Wells"), and Purple G (collectively "Defendants") move to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim (Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6)) and lack of personal jurisdiction (Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(2)). For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motions are DENIED, and Defendants' Rule 12(b)(2) motions are DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. The Court GRANTS Plaintiff leave to conduct jurisdictional discovery.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff AddVenture Products, Inc. ("Plaintiff" or "AddVenture"), is in the business of producing and selling t-shirts compressed into a variety of shapes for use as promotional items. (Compl. ¶ 2.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants are also in the business of producing and selling compressed t-shirts and that Defendants have offered for sale and/or sold infringing products in this forum. (Compl. ¶¶ 8, 14.)

Plaintiff is suing Defendants for patent infringement. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have infringed Patent No. 5,042,227, entitled "Method & Apparatus for Compression Packaging," in addition to U.S. Design Patent Nos. D431,184 ("Wine Bottle Patent"), D431,186 ("Light Bulb Patent"), D431,456 ("House Patent"), D439,151 ("Tractor/Semitrailer Patent"), D439,153 ("Fish Patent"), D441,282 ("Numeral One Patent"), D445,671 ("Beer Bottle Patent"), D451,009 ("Capsule Patent"), D452,649 ("Helmet Patent"), D454,297 ("Tractor-Trailer Patent"), and D455,341 ("Shoe Patent").

II. DISCUSSION

A. Motions to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

Defendants move to dismiss Plaintiff's patent infringement claims on the ground that they fail to state a claim. The Court disagrees.

Whitson Wells argues that it does not directly make, use, sell or offer for sale any compressed fabric promotional items. Similarly, Weinberg argues that he is not personally involved in the manufacture, use, sale or offer for sale of any of the accused devices. However, these facts are outside of the pleadings and cannot be considered in deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. See Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 689 (9th Cir. 2001) (explaining that when the legal sufficiency of a complaint's allegations is tested by a motion under Rule 12(b)(6), the court's review is limited to the complaint).

Defendants also argue that Plaintiff cannot prevail on its claim that Defendants infringed the '227 utility patent because both Purple G's and Plaintiff's promotional items require the addition of water to return the fabric to an uncompacted state and, therefore, do not practice a necessary step of the utility patent. Again, this argument requires the Court to consider evidence outside of the Complaint.

Finally, Defendants argue that Plaintiff has failed to identify the protectible ornamental aspects of the asserted design patents and has failed to identify products of Purple G that possess these protectible ornamental elements. However, the pleading requirements under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require more than "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P 8(2). Form 18, "Complaint for Patent Infringement," illustrates the simplicity and brevity that is required under the Rules. Fed. R. Civ. P. 84. The form complaint includes an allegation that the plaintiff owns the pertinent patent, that defendant infringed the patent by "making, selling, and using electric motors that embody the patented invention," and that the plaintiff has complied with the statutory requirement of placing a notice of the patent on all products manufactured and sold by the patent owner under the patent and has given the defendant written notice of the infringement.

Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that he owns the patents in question and that Defendants infringed the patents (1) by making, using, offering for sale and selling t-shirts compressed by a method embodying the patented invention and (2) by making, using, selling, and/or offering for sale compressed t-shirts covered by the claims of the various design patents, and/or inducing others to do the same. (Compl. ¶¶ 19, 26, 33, 40, 47, 54, 61, 68, 75, 82, 89, 96.) The Complaint also alleges that Defendants were put on notice that they were infringing Plaintiff's patents. (Compl. ¶ 15.) These allegations are sufficient to satisfy the pleading requirements. Defendants will learn more about the specifics of Plaintiff's claims in the Disclosure of Asserted Claims and Preliminary Infringement Contentions that is required under Patent L.R. 3.1.

Plaintiff has stated claims for patent infringement, and Defendants' motions to dismiss under ...


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