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Fluordx LLC v. Quidel Corp.

United States District Court, S.D. California

September 23, 2019

FLUORDX LLC, Plaintiff,


          Hon. Janis L. Sammartino United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court is Defendant Quidel Corporation’s Motion to Dismiss (“MTD, ” ECF No. 14). Also before the Court are Plaintiff FluorDx LLC’s Response in Opposition to (“Opp’n, ” ECF No. 15) and Defendant’s Reply in Support of (“Reply, ” ECF No. 17) the Motion. After considering the Parties’ arguments and the law, the Court GRANTS Defendant’s Motion.


         Plaintiff FluorDx, LLC is a California limited liability corporation located in Carlsbad, California. First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) ¶ 3, ECF No. 13. Defendant Quidel Corporation is a Delaware corporation licensed to do business in California and headquartered in San Diego, California. Id. ¶ 4.

         Plaintiff is the owner by assignment of U.S. Patent Number 9, 274, 056 B2 (the “’056 Patent”), issued on March 1, 2016. Id. ¶ 5. The ’056 Patent describes an “assay method for detecting the presence of an analyte in a sample using a test strip and then analyzing this strip in a reader that uses an LED light source as the UV excitation source.” Id. ¶ 12.

         Robert Hudak and Ian Buchanan are the named inventors of the ’056 Patent. Id. ¶ 5. Plaintiff allegedly acquired ownership of the ’056 patent by assignment from Mr. Hudak and Mr. Buchanan prior to the litigation. See id.

         On December 20, 2018, Plaintiff filed suit, alleging that that Defendant infringed upon the ’056 Patent by developing, manufacturing, distributing, or selling immunoassay test systems. FAC ¶ 14. On February 7, 2019, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss. See generally ECF No. 12. On February 13, 2019, Plaintiff filed the operative FAC. See generally FAC. Defendant then filed the current Motion under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), arguing that Plaintiff lacked standing to bring its suit and failed to state a claim. See generally MTD.


         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and as such have an obligation to dismiss claims for which they lack subject-matter jurisdiction. Demarest v. United States, 718 F.2d 964, 965 (9th Cir. 1983). Because the issue of standing pertains to the subject-matter jurisdiction of a federal court, motions raising lack of standing are properly brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). White v. Lee, 227 F.3d 1214, 1242 (9th Cir. 2000). The “party seeking to invoke the court’s jurisdiction” bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction. Cedars-Sinai Med. Ctr. v. Watkins, 11 F.3d 1573, 1584 (Fed. Cir. 1993); see also Takhar v. Kessler, 76 F.3d 995, 1000 (9th Cir. 1996) (“A plaintiff has the burden of establishing the elements required for standing.”).

         Rule 12(b)(1) motions may challenge jurisdiction facially or factually. Safe Air for Everyone v. Meyer, 373 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 2004). “In a facial attack, the challenger asserts that the allegations contained in a complaint are insufficient on their face to invoke federal jurisdiction. By contrast, in a factual attack, the challenger disputes the truth of the allegations that, by themselves, would otherwise invoke federal jurisdiction.” Id. When a defendant raises a factual challenge, as is the case here, “only uncontroverted allegations” in the complaint “are accepted as true, ” while “[a]ll other facts underlying the controverted jurisdictional allegations are in dispute and are subject to fact-finding by the district court.” Cedars-Sinai, 11 F.3d at 1583–84 (citations omitted). If the court determines that it does not have proper jurisdiction, the Court must dismiss the action. Id. at 1585.


         Defendant contends that “Plaintiff did not have standing to bring [its] patent infringement lawsuit when it filed the original complaint” because “Plaintiff did not own [the ’056 Patent] at the time the original complaint was filed.” MTD at 6. Plaintiff argues that its allegations in its FAC alone are sufficient to show standing. Opp’n at 7. Plaintiff also contends that if the Court looks beyond the pleadings, the evidence it brought forth to oppose Defendant’s Motion shows that it “was the owner by assignment [of the ’056 Patent] prior to filing” its original complaint. Id.

         “In order to seek damages for infringement of a patent, ” Plaintiff must show it had “standing at the inception of the lawsuit.” Sky Techs. LLC v. SAP AG, 576 F.3d 1374, 1379 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (citing Arachnid, Inc. v. Merit Indus., Inc., 939 F.2d 1574, 1579 (Fed. Cir. 1991)). To show standing, Plaintiff “must demonstrate that it held enforceable title to the patent” when it filed suit. Paradise Creations, Inc. v. UV Sales, Inc., 315 F.3d 1304, 1309–10 (Fed. Cir. 2003). “The Federal Patent Act requires that all assignments of patent interests be in writing.” Sky Techs., 576 F.3d at 1379; 35 U.S.C. § 261 (“[P]atents, or any interest therein, shall be assignable in law by an instrument in writing.”). Thus, to support standing, Plaintiff has the burden to show the requisite ownership of the ’056 Patent rights through a written instrument. See Abraxis Bioscience, Inc. v. Navinta LLC, 625 F.3d 1359, 1364 (Fed. Cir. 2010).

         Plaintiff first contends that its allegations in the FAC are sufficient, without any supporting evidence, to meet its burden to show standing. Opp’n at 17. In the FAC, Plaintiff’s only allegation concerning ownership states that “[t]he inventors of the ’056 patent are Robert Hudack and Ian Buchanan, wh[o] both assigned all their rights in the ’056 patent to [Plaintiff] prior to the initial filing of this lawsuit.” FAC ¶ 5. Plaintiff contends it “does not have the burden to plead the entire timeline and factual basis for the veracity of its allegation” and that it does not have to prove its allegations of ownership of the ’056 Patent at the pleading ...

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