Joao Control & Monitoring Systems, LLC v. Protect America, Inc., 1-14-cv-00134 (TXWD March 24, 2015, Order) (Yeakel, J.)
Thursday, March 26, 2015
“Shotgun” Infringement Pleading May Support Exceptional Case Finding
The court denied defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's "shotgun" direct infringement claim but warned of a potential exceptional case finding later. "[Plaintiff's] asserted patents are clearly complex. Among the six patents, there are over 900 claims, many of which [plaintiff's] counsel admits are inapplicable to [defendant's] products and services. A pleading that alleges 'one or more' of the over 900 claims in the patents-in-suit are infringed gives [defendant] and this court scant notice of what is truly alleged to be at issue in this case. Although adhering to the minimum requirements of Form 18, [plaintiff's] direct-infringement pleading is a classic example of a 'shotgun' approach to pleading, where the sheer volume of potential asserted claims and complexity of the patents are overwhelming to the parties and to the court. . . . Still, because the requirements of Form 18 have been met, the court will not at this time instruct [plaintiff] to redraft its direct-infringement allegations. . . . However, the court does remind [plaintiff] that a sprawling resource-depleting approach to this case, which ultimately proves to be unduly wasteful, may factor into a finding that this case is an 'exceptional' case that justifies fee shifting."