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."

Joao Control & Monitoring Systems, LLC v. Protect America, Inc., 1-14-cv-00134 (TXWD March 24, 2015, Order) (Yeakel, J.)

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