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Modern Font Applications, LLC v. Peak Restaurant Partners, LLC

United States District Court, D. Utah

August 12, 2019

MODERN FONT APPLICATIONS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
PEAK RESTAURANT PARTNERS, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT PEAK'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          TED STEWART, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Peak Restaurant Partners' (“Peak”) Motion to Dismiss. For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants Peak's Motion to Dismiss, but does so without prejudice, and permits Plaintiff Modern Font Applications (“MFA”) to file a motion for leave to file an amended complaint.

         I. BACKGROUND

         MFA is the exclusive licensee of the U.S. Patent No. 9, 866, 421 (the “'421 patent”) titled “Allowing Operating System Access to Non-Standard Fonts in a Network Document, ” invented by Mr. Robert G. Adamson. As the exclusive licensee, MFA retains the right to sue for infringement of the '421 patent. Peak is a franchisee that operates several IHOP chain establishments franchised by Defendant Dine Brands Global, Inc. (“Dine”).

         MFA names Dine, Peak, and Does 1-5 in its Complaint. In the Complaint, MFA alleges that i) the “Accused Product, ” has resulted in infringement of the '421 patent “through making, using, selling, offering for sale, and/or importing of Defendant's [sic] products and service including, but not limited to” the IHOP application; and that ii) “Defendant” has actively induced and continues to induce others to infringe the '421 patent through advertising and marketing materials.[1]

         Peak has moved to dismiss MFA's claims against it. Peak contends that the Complaint does not allege any specific facts directly relating to Peak that would warrant being named in the Complaint. Peak states that the “Accused Product, ” namely the IHOP application for iOS devices, “is simply not Peak's application, ” and that the lack of facts indicating what Peak's role in the alleged infringement establishes grounds for dismissal of the claims and causes of action against Peak.[2]

         In response, MFA argues several issues. First, MFA suggests to the Court that sanctions are warranted in this case because Peak's Motion to Dismiss is without merit, and for the delay Peak has allegedly caused by requesting an extension of time to respond to the Complaint immediately following the Complaint being filed. MFA responds that in fact, the Complaint does clearly indicate Peak's role in the alleged infringement and should thus withstand a motion to dismiss. MFA explains that specific acts of both direct infringement, such as making and using an infringing product, and inducement of infringement, through advertisements and marketing materials geared towards encouraging customers to infringe the '421 patent, are detailed in the Complaint. Finally, MFA requests, if this Court finds that the Complaint is indeed insufficient, that MFA be permitted to file an amended complaint to add the “ample additional evidence” that exists to meet the pleading standards of Iqbal and Twombly.[3]

         II. MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD

         “In patent cases, courts previously looked to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 84, which in turn referred to . . . Form 18 . . . .” to determine the extent a complaint must delineate wrongful actions warranting a claim for relief.[4] However, “[a]s of December 1, 2015, Rule 84 and Form 18 were abrogated and are no longer in effect.”[5] Rather, Iqbal and Twombly “govern in patent cases.”[6]Additionally, the Federal Circuit has explained that the law of the regional circuit, here Tenth Circuit precedent, applies in patent law cases to issues involving a procedural question, such as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.[7]

         In considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Rule 12(b)(6), all well-pleaded factual allegations, as distinguished from conclusory allegations, are accepted as true and viewed in the light most favorable to Plaintiff as the nonmoving party.[8] Plaintiff must provide “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face, ”[9] which requires “more than an unadorned, the-defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.”[10] “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.' Nor does a complaint suffice if it tenders ‘naked assertion[s]' devoid of ‘further factual enhancement.'”[11] “The court's function on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not to weigh potential evidence that the parties might present at trial, but to assess whether the plaintiff's complaint alone is legally sufficient to state a claim for which relief may be granted.”[12]

         As the Court in Iqbal stated,

[o]nly a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will . . . be a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not shown-that the pleader is entitled to relief.[13]

         In the patent infringement context, “Twombly and Iqbal require that a complaint for patent infringement contain sufficient factual allegations such that a reasonable court could, assuming the allegations were true, conclude that the defendant infringed.”[14]

         IV. DISCUSSION

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies MFA's requests that amount to motions for sanctions and for leave to file an amended complaint, grants Peak's Motion to Dismiss but without prejudice, and ...


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