The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court
Order Denying Plaintiff's Motions to Dismiss or Strike [Doc. Nos. 32, 33, 34.]
In this patent infringement action, plaintiff Database Structures, Inc. ("DSI") submits a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss three sections of defendant Oracle Corporation's answer: (1) the fourth affirmative defense, (2) the counterclaim, and (3) any request for relief based on allegations of inequitable conduct. [Doc. Nos. 32, 33, 34.] Alternatively, DSI moves to strike the contested sections. The parties have fully briefed this motion and the Court finds the matter amenable to disposition without oral argument. Local Civil Rule 7.1(d). Having considered the parties' arguments, the Court DENIES DSI's motions for the following reasons.
DSI is the exclusive licensee of U.S. Patent No. 5,546,575 (the "575 patent"), entitled "Encoding Method for Compressing a Tabular Database by Selecting Effective Compression Routines for Each Field and Structure of Partitions of Equal Sized Records." Upon learning Oracle was advertising and selling a purportedly infringing product, DSI filed suit alleging patent infringement.
In its answer, Oracle assertsan its fourth affirmative defense and counterclaims for declaratory judgment based on DSI's allegedly inequitable conduct during the prosecution of the '575 patent.
[Doc. No. 19.] Specifically, Oracle alleges the named inventors and their attorneys failed to disclose relevant prior art during the prosecution of the '575 patent. Oracle asserts the offending parties intended to deceive the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO").
In the instant motion, DSI argues dismissal is appropriate because Oracle's allegations of inequitable conduct do not satisfy the heightened pleading standard of Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b). Oracle filed an opposition and DSI filed a reply.
A motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) tests the legal sufficiency of the claims asserted in the complaint. Generally, to avoid a Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal, a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations; rather, it must plead "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.544 (2007). However, allegations of fraud must meet the particularity requirements of Rule 9(b): "a party must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake." Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(b).
The court's review of a 12(b)(6) motion is limited to the contents of the complaint, accepting all factual allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir.1996). Notwithstanding this deference, it is improper for a court to assume "the [plaintiff] can prove facts which [he or she] has not alleged." Associated General Contractors of California, Inc. v. California State Council of Carpenters, 459 U.S. 519, 526 (1983). Furthermore, a court need not credit conclusory legal allegations cast in the form of factual allegations, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences. Sprewell v. Golden State Warriors, 266 F.3d 979, 988 (9th Cir. 2001).
Rule 12(f) permits the court to strike any "insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f). Motions to strike are a drastic remedy and generally disfavored. 5C Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure §1380 (3d ed. 2004). A matter is impertinent if the statements do not pertain, and are not necessary, to the issues in question. Fantasy, Inc.v. Fogerty, 984 F.2d 1524, 1527 (9th Cir. 1993) rev'd on other grounds 510 U.S. 517 (1994). "Scandalous" matters "casts a cruelly derogatory light on a party or other person." In re 2TheMart.com, Inc. Sec. Litig., 114 F. Supp. 2d 955, 965 (C.D. Cal. 2000); see, e.g. AlvaradoMorales v. Digital Equip. Corp., 843 F.2d 613 (1st Cir. 1988) (striking the terms "concentration camp," "brainwashing," and "torture" in a tort case in the employment context). "Motions to strike an ...