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Judge Stark denies motion to dismiss based on laches, finding that ruling on defendant’s defense requires consideration of matters outside the pleadings

Judge Stark recently considered AT&T’s motion to dismiss United Access Technologies, LLC’s amended complaint based on laches. United Access Technologies, LLC v. AT&T Corp., et al., C.A. No. 11-338-LPS (D. Del. Jul. 26, 2013). AT&T argued that laches barred plaintiff’s claims because “with full knowledge of AT&T’ s relevant activities, Plaintiff sat on its patent rights for nearly nine years without attempting to enforce them against AT&T.” Id. at 1-2. Plaintiff’s predecessor had previously sued AT&T in 2002 for infringement of several of the same patents-in-suit, but, after voluntarily dismissing the suit plaintiff waited nine years (and until after the patents expired) to file suit again. Id. at 2. Plaintiff responded that, among other things, “its alleged delay [was] not apparent from the face of the Amended Complaint, and therefore the laches defense is not amenable to resolution on a motion to dismiss. Id. Judge Stark agreed. “‘[A] ruling on the defendant’s defense of laches would necessarily involve a fact-intensive analysis and balancing of equities that would require the Court to consider matters outside the pleadings that are in dispute.’ Discovery will be required before the laches defense can be fairly evaluated.” Id. (quoting Lennon v. Seaman, 63 F. Supp. 2d 428, 439 (S.D.N.Y. 1999)).

United Access Technologies, LLC v. AT&T Corp., et al., C.A. No. 11-338-LPS (D. Del. Jul. 26, 2013)

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