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Simplehuman, LLC v. Itouchless Housewares and Products, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

November 13, 2019

SIMPLEHUMAN, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
ITOUCHLESS HOUSEWARES AND PRODUCTS, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS DESIGN PATENT CLAIMS RE: DKT. NO. 24

          HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is Defendant iTouchless Housewares and Products, Inc.'s motion to dismiss Plaintiff simplehuman, LLC's design patent infringement claims stated in the amended complaint. Dkt No. 24 ("Mot."). The Court finds this matter appropriate for disposition without oral argument and the matter is deemed submitted. See Civil L.R. 7-1(b). After carefully reviewing and considering the parties' arguments, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         simplehuman, LLC ("simplehuman") manufactures and sells "highly stylistic and distinctive trash cans." Dkt. No. l9("FAC")¶7. iTouchless Housewares and Products, Inc. ("iTouchless") sells trash cans, including the Dual-Deodorizer Oval Open-Top trash can and the Dual-Compartment Open Top Trash and Recycle Can. Id. ¶¶ 15-16. simplehuman brings this lawsuit alleging that iTouchless infringes its patents. Specifically, simplehuman alleges that iTouchless infringes two design patents, U.S. Design Patent Nos. D644, 8O7 CI ("D8O7 Patent") and D729, 485 S ("D485 Patent") (collectively, "Asserted Design Patents"), as well as utility patent U.S. Patent No. 6, 626, 316. Id. ¶¶ 19, 27-28.

         The D8O7 Patent is titled "Slim Open Trash Can." FAC, Ex. 1. simplehuman accuses the Dual-Deodorizer Oval Open-Top trash can of infringing this patent. FAC ¶ 14. Shown below is simplehuman's comparison of the accused trash can to the D8O7 Patent design. Id. at 8.

         (Image Omitted)

         The D485 Patent is titled "Dual Recycler." FAC, Ex. 2. simplehuman accuses the Dual-Compartment Open Top Trash and Recycle Can of infringing this patent. FAC ¶ 16. Shown below is simplehuman's comparison of the accused trash can to the D485 design. Id. at 11.

         (Image Omitted)

         U.S. Patent No. 6, 626, 316 describes an improved trash can assembly. FAC ¶ 17. simplehuman accuses the AirStep trash can of infringing this patent. Id. ¶ 18. iTouchless moves to dismiss simplehuman's claims for infringement of the D8O7 and D485 Patents only.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

         To survive a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to state a claim for relief that is "plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A claim has facial plausibility "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Warren v. Fox Family Worldwide, Inc., 328 F.3d 1136, 1139 (9th Cir. 2003). To evaluate plausibility, a court must "accept factual allegations in the complaint as true and construe the pleadings in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Manzarek v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2008). However, a court "need not accept as true conclusory allegations that are contradicted by documents referred to in the complaint."[1] Id.

         A court may consider documents outside the pleadings on a motion to dismiss if they are subject to judicial notice or if they are integral to the plaintiffs claims and their authenticity is not disputed. Parrino v. FHP, Inc., 146 F.3d 699, 705-06 (9th Cir. 1998), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 681 (9th Cir. 2006). Accordingly, a court may consider the patents attached to a complaint and the undisputedly authentic photographs of the accused products. See Performance Designed Prods. V. Mad Catz, Inc., No. 16-cv-629-GPC (RBB), 2016 WL 3552063, at *4 n.2 (S.D. Cal. June 29, 2016). A court may also take judicial notice of the prosecution history and prior art of a patent. Hoganas AB v. Dresser Indus., Inc., 9 F.3d 948, 954 n.27 (Fed. Cir. 1993); Colt Int'l Clothing Inc. v. Quasar Science, LLC, 304 F.Supp.3d 891, 892 (CD. Cal. 2018).

         B. Design Patent Infringement

         A design patent protects "any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture." 35 U.S.C. § 171(a). Unlike a utility patent, a design patent is "directed to the appearance of an article," as opposed to its functionality. L.A. Gear, Inc. v. Thorn McAn Show Co.,988 F.2d 1117, 1123 (Fed. Cir. 1993). A design patent is "typically claimed as shown in drawings" and has "almost no scope beyond the precise images shown in the drawings." MRC Innovations, Inc. v. Hunter Mfg., LLP, 141 F.3d 1326, 133 n.l (Fed. Cir. ...


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