Judge Robinson denies motion to dismiss indirect infringement claims
Judge Sue L. Robinson recently denied Ricoh Company, Ltd.'s motion to dismiss Telecomm Innovations, LLC's indirect infringement claims. Telecomm Innovations, LLC v. Ricoh Company, Ltd., et al., C.A. No. 12-1277-SLR (D. Del. Aug. 6, 2013) (click here for a discussion of trends in the District of Delaware regarding pleading direct and indirect patent infringement). Plaintiff accused Ricoh's "fax-capable products" of infringement and, in support of its indirect infringement claims alleged that Ricoh provides "technical support and services, as well as detailed explanations, instructions and information as to arrangements, applications and uses, which induce defendants' customers to infringe the '519 patent through use of [the accused products]." Id. at 2. Plaintiff also alleged that Ricoh "specifically intended to induce infringement by its customers and others ... knowing that such acts would cause infringement and/or were willfully blind to the possibility that their inducing acts would cause infringement." Id. (alterations in original) (internal quotations omitted).
Ricoh argued that Plaintiff's indirect infringement claims did not pass muster because Plaintiff had "not pled with sufficient 'factual detail' that there was at least one direct infringer and that defendants knew of and specifically intended to induce infringement." Id. at 5. Judge Robinson noted that Plaintiff was "not required to specifically identify the customers who [were] induced to infringe, as this is a 'proper question for discovery.'" Id. Because Plaintiff pled that Ricoh's customers infringe the patent-in-suit, "the requirement for pleading facts to allow an inference that at least one direct infringer exists ha[d] been met." Id.
Regarding knowledge of the patent-in-suit, Judge Robinson found that Plaintiff's allegations that Ricoh received notice of the patent at least as early as the filing of the Complaint was sufficient to plead knowledge "for purposes of post-complaint relief." Id. at 6. Finally, regarding Ricoh's intent for their customers to infringe, Judge Robinson found that Plaintiff's allegations that Ricoh "provided technical support and instructions to their customers on how to use products in such a way as to infringe the patented invention" was sufficient to plead Ricoh's specific intent to induce patent infringement. Id at 6-8.