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Skyworks Solutions Inc. v. Kinetic Technologies Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 2, 2014



SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge.

Defendant Kinetic Technologies Inc. has filed a motion to dismiss the claims for inducement of patent infringement, contributory patent infringement, and willful patent infringement brought by plaintiff Skyworks Solutions Inc. Docket No. 25. The motion is scheduled for hearing before the Court on April 4, 2014. Pursuant to Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court determines that the matter is appropriate for resolution without oral argument and VACATES the hearing. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Kinetic's motion to dismiss.


This is an action for patent infringement. Plaintiff Skyworks is a Delaware corporation and an innovator of high performance analog semiconductors. First Amended Complaint ("FAC") ¶ 8. Defendant Kinetic is a California corporation that designs, develops, and markets semiconductor products including LED driver products for use in devices such as wireless communication devices. Id. ¶¶ 4, 15. Kin Shum and Jan Nilsson are former employees of Advanced Analogic Technologies, Inc. (AATI), which Skyworks acquired in 2012. Id. ¶¶ 12, 21, 24. Shum and Nilsson are now officers, directors, employees, and/or founders of Kinetic. Id. ¶¶ 20, 23.

The patents at issue in this case are Patent Nos. 7, 921, 320 (the '320 patent) and 8, 539, 275 (the '275 patent). During his employment at AATI, Nilsson was named as an inventor of the '320 and '275 patents. Id. ¶ 25. The '320 patent was initially assigned by the employee inventors to AATI, which was subsequently acquired by Skyworks; the '275 patent is assigned to Skyworks. Id. ¶¶ 12, 13. Skyworks is the owner by assignment of all right, title, and interest in the '320 and '275 patents. Id. ¶ 14. Skyworks alleges that Kinetic made, used, offered to sell, sold, and/or imported into the United States and placed into the stream of commerce LED driver products that infringe at least one claim of the '320 and '275 patents, in violation of 35 U.S.C. § 271. Id. ¶ 33, 44.

In March, 2013, Skyworks filed a complaint for infringement of the '320 patent against Kinetic in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Skyworks Solutions, Inc. v. Kinetic Techs., Inc., Case No. 1:13-cv-10655-GAO (D. Mass. 2013). That case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction on December 30, 2013.

Skyworks filed the present suit against Kinetic on January 2, 2014, and Kinetic filed a motion to dismiss on January 24, 2014. Docket Nos. 1, 13. Skyworks filed its first amended complaint on February 7, 2014. Docket No. 20. Kinetic withdrew its previously filed motion to dismiss on February 11, 2014 and on February 17, 2014, filed the present motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Docket No. 25.


To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must allege "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). This "facial plausibility" standard requires the plaintiff to allege facts that add up to "more than a sheer possibility that a Defendant has acted unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). While courts do not require "heightened fact pleading of specifics, " a plaintiff must allege facts sufficient to "raise a right to reliefabove the speculative level." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 544, 555. "A pleading that offers labels and conclusions' or aformulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders naked assertion[s]' devoid of further factual enhancement.'" Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 557). "While legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual allegations." Id.

In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a district court must accept as true all facts alleged in the complaint, and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. See al -Kidd v. Ashcroft, 580 F.3d 949, 956 (9th Cir. 2009). However, a district court is not required to accept as true "allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences." In re Gilead Scis. Sec. Litig., 536 F.3d 1049, 1055 (9th Cir. 2008). Moreover, "the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

To state a claim of patent infringement, "a plaintiff must allege that the defendant makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells the patented invention within the United States, during the term of the patent, and without authority of the patent holder." Advanced Cardiovascular Sys., Inc. v. SciMed Life Sys., Inc., 989 F.Supp. 1237, 1249 (N.D. Cal. 1997). A claimant is not required to "to set out in detail the facts upon which he bases his claim"; instead, the complaint "need only plead facts sufficient to place the alleged infringer on notice." Phonometrics, Inc. v. Hospitality Franchise Sys., Inc., 203 F.3d 790, 794 (Fed. Cir. 2000). Ifthe Court dismisses a complaint, it must decide whether to grant leave to amend. The Ninth Circuit has "repeatedly held that a district court should grant leave to amend even if no request to amend the pleading was made, unless it determines that the pleading could not possibly be cured by the allegation of other facts." Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1130 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).


Kinetic has moved to dismiss Skyworks' claims for inducement of patent infringement, contributory patent infringement, ...

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