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Magistrate Judge Thynge: Motion to Dismiss Denied Because Complaint Sufficiently Identified Infringing Programs and Systems

In Motivation Innovations, LLC v. Express, Inc., C.A. No. 11-615-SLR-MPT (D. Del. Apr. 24, 2012), Motivation sued various unrelated defendants for infringement of its patent related to delivering discounts and coupons and tracking customer spending habits.  The defendants collectively moved to dismiss for failure to meet the pleading standards of Rule 8, arguing that the complaint failed to “set forth a general class of products or a general identification of the alleged infringing methods.”  Id. at 6.

Motivation’s complaint contained the same allegation against each defendant, claiming that each defendant infringed “at least Claim 1 of the ‘527 Patent . . . through, among other activities, the manufacture, operation, and use of its home delivered coupon and discount programs and systems, including, but not limited to, discount programs and systems made through [each defendant’s] Rewards Program and redeemed at [defendants’] stores.”  Id.  The primary issue, as Magistrate Judge Thynge framed it, was whether this language along with an identification of the trade name of each defendant’s customer rewards program met the threshold for specificity required by Twombly and Iqbal and exemplified in Form 18.  Id. at 7-8.

Judge Thynge rejected several arguments from the defendants that this language was not sufficient.  She first found that Motivation’s reference in the complaint to the specific trade name of each defendant’s allegedly infringing discount program helped to specify the “home delivered coupon and discount programs and systems” that allegedly infringed the patent-in-suit.  Id. at 8-9.  She next explained that the conditional language of the complaint, “home delivered coupon and discount programs and systems, including but not limited to discount offers,” was acceptable because the complaint went on to specifically identify “coupon and discount programs and systems” and describe the programs and systems through trade names.  Id. at 9-10.  Finally, the defendants argued that the specifically-referenced claim 1 covered only redeeming offers, while the complaint did not mention a system or method for redemption.  Judge Thynge rejected this argument, finding that “Plaintiff is not required to plead specific claims of the patent allegedly infringed or describe in detail how the allegedly infringing products work.” Id. at 10-11.

For all of these reasons, Judge Thynge found that the complaint sufficiently stated a claim and recommended denial of the motion to dismiss and granting Motivation leave to amend to provide the correct name or a description of the Victoria’s Secret rewards program.  Id. at 11-12.

Motivation Innovations, LLC v. Express, Inc., C.A. No. 11-615-SLR-MPT (D. Del. Apr. 24, 2012).

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