Judge Andrews Dismisses Induced, Contributory, and Willful Infringement Claims

March 1, 2016

Publication| Intellectual Property

In Bradium Technologies, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., C.A. No. 15-31-RGA (D. Del. Feb. 2, 2016), Judge Andrews granted in part defendant Microsoft Corporation’s (“Microsoft”) motion to dismiss plaintiff Bradium Technologies, LLC’s (“Bradium”) indirect and willful infringement claims. Microsoft argued that the allegations of the complaint were conclusory, and failed to allege sufficient facts of pre-suit knowledge to support the induced, contributory, and willful infringement claims. Bradium countered that the complaint identified exemplary infringing products, allegations of knowledge of the patents-in-suit, and other factual allegations sufficient to withstand a Rule 12 challenge. Bradium further pointed to a recent patent infringement action filed by Microsoft (filed after Microsoft’s motion here), asserting that that complaint “alleged far less than what Bradium has alleged here” as evidence that “Microsoft’s motion is nothing more than a delay tactic.”

In a brief order, Judge Andrews dismissed Bradium’s induced and contributory infringement claims preceding the date of the complaint, finding nothing other than “conclusory ‘on information and belief’ assertions” that failed to “make plausible the connection that Microsoft knew that [its product] infringed the three patents, or even that Microsoft knew before May 27, 2014 that [two of the patents-in-suit] had issued.” In so ruling, Judge Andrews noted that alleged meetings involving Microsoft before the patents-in-suit issued and “vague” licensing letters could not support the allegations of knowledge. The Court dismissed the willfulness claims without discussion. (Judge Andrews permitted the induced and contributory infringement claims to proceed as of the date of the complaint.)

Analysis: Judge Andrews will restrict indirect infringement claims to no earlier than the date when knowledge of the patent became apparent to the alleged infringer, even if that date is the filing of the complaint.

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