United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
ST. EVE United States District Court Judge.
September 12, 2017, Plaintiff Pressure Specialist, Inc.
(“PSI”) brought the present Complaint against
Defendant Next Gen Manufacturing (“Next Gen”)
alleging patent infringement. Before the Court is Next
Gen's motion to dismiss Count I brought pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). For the following
reasons, the Court denies Defendant's motion to dismiss.
Complaint, Plaintiff asserts a patent infringement claim
alleging that Defendant has infringed on Plaintiff's
United State Patent No. 6, 851, 447, entitled “Direct
Acting Gas Regulator” (hereinafter the “'447
Patent”), and United State Patent No. 7, 059, 343
(hereinafter the “'343
Patent”). (R. 1, Compl.) Plaintiff is an Illinois
corporation with its principal place of business in Crystal
Lake, Illinois, and it is in the business of designing,
developing, manufacturing, and selling hoses, fittings,
regulators, fill stations, and accessories for paintball,
air-gun, and related industries. (Id. ¶¶
1, 5.) Plaintiff has designed and holds 12 patents covering
paintball products. (Id. ¶ 5.) Defendant is an
Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in
Elgin, Illinois. (Id. ¶ 2.)
alleges that Defendant infringed on Plaintiff s patent by
manufacturing and selling a paintball regulator called the
PowerHouse Competition Regulator (the
“Regulator”). (Id. ¶ 6.) A
paintball regulator is a device that regulates the pressure
of the air entering a paintball gun by cutting off the air
source when the pressure in the regulator chamber reaches a
certain pressure. (Id. ¶ 7.) ASTM is an
international standards organization that publishes technical
standards for a wide range of materials and products, and
Plaintiffs regulators are ASTM-compliant. (Id.)
Plaintiff alleges that Jeff Schreiber, Plaintiffs former
employee, who worked on Plaintiffs research and development
teams and had access to confidential information regarding
Plaintiffs products, began working with Defendant to promote
and sell the Regulator at issue after Plaintiff terminated
him. (Id. ¶¶ 8-9.) Plaintiff brought a
pending state court lawsuit against Schreiber for breach of
non-competition and confidentiality agreements. (Id.
Count I, Plaintiff alleges that it is the owner of all
rights, titles, and interests in the ‘447 Patent, a
valid, enforceable patent, including the right to exclude
others and to enforce, sue, and recover damages for past and
future infringement. (Id. ¶¶ 12-13.)
Plaintiff alleges that Defendant directly infringed and
continues to infringe on the ‘447 Patent through its
production and sale of the Regulator. (Id. ¶
14.) Claim 1 of the ‘447 Patent recites: a direct
acting pressure regulator comprised of the following: (1) a
body with a high pressure inlet and defining a seat, with a
guide sleeve therein; (2) an bonnet with a regulated gas
outlet and a body guide sleeve extending into the piston
chamber; (3) a piston disposed within the piston chamber and
in the guide sleeve that is movable between open and closed
regulator conditions and that has a sealing element formed of
resilient materials; (4) a spring disposed in the piston
chamber for urging the piston to the open regulator
condition; (5) a first seal disposed between the sealing
element and the piston chamber at about the guide sleeve; (6)
a second seal disposed between the impingement surface and
the piston chamber; and (7) a pin valve disposed in the
central longitudinal bore of the piston. (Id. ¶
alleges that the Regulator, Defendant's product, has a
body with a high pressure inlet and a guide sleeve.
(Id. ¶¶ 16-18.) It also has a bonnet with
a low pressure side outlet that is threaded onto the body to
define a piston chamber. (Id. ¶¶ 19-20.)
The Regulator also has a piston disposed within the piston
chamber and in part in the guide sleeve. (Id. ¶
21.) Plaintiff alleges that the bonnet of the Regulator has a
stop surface that stops movement out of the piston.
(Id. ¶ 22.) The Regulator includes a gap
between the piston and the piston chamber wall and the piston
moves between open position and closed position.
(Id. ¶¶ 23-24.) Plaintiff alleges that the
Regulator's piston includes a support in which the
resilient ball is positioned and this support has openings
that open into a bore in the piston. (Id.
¶¶ 25-26.) The piston also includes a shoulder that
engages the bonnet stop surface. (Id. ¶ 27.) A
spring is positioned on the piston within the chamber that
urges the resilient ball of the seat. (Id. ¶
28.) The Regulator also has an O-ring seal on the piston and
a pin valve on the piston bore. (Id. ¶¶
29-30.) Plaintiff alleges that the Regulator infringes on
Patent 447 causing damages to Plaintiff. (Id.
Count II, Plaintiff alleges that it is the owner of all
right, title, and interest in the ‘343 Patent, a valid,
enforceable patent, including the right to exclude others and
to enforce, sue, and recover damages for past and future
infringement. (Id. ¶¶ 38-39.) Plaintiff
alleges that Defendant directly infringed and continues to
infringe on the ‘343 Patent through its production and
sale of the Regulator. (Id. ¶ 40.) Claim 1 of
the ‘343 Patent recites: a direct acting pressure
regulator comprised of the following: (1) a body with a high
pressure inlet and defining a seat; (2) a bonnet that engages
with the body to define a piston chamber within the body and
the bonnet and with a regulated gas outlet; (3) a piston
disposed within the piston chamber and defining a gap between
the piston and the wall defining the chamber and capable of
moving between open and closed regulator conditions and that
has a plug with a sealing element that engages with the seat;
(4) a spring for urging the piston to the open regulator
condition; and (5) a pin valve disposed in the central
longitudinal bore of the piston. (Id. ¶ 41.)
The Regulator piston has a plug in which a sealing element is
positioned with radial opening that open into a bore in the
piston. (Id. ¶¶ 42-43.) Plaintiff alleges
that the Regulator infringes on the ‘343 Patent causing
damages to Plaintiff. (Id. ¶¶ 44-47.)
patent cases, the Court looks to Seventh Circuit law for the
standard governing motions to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).
See Lyda v. CBS Corp., 838 F.3d 1331, 1337 (Fed.
Cir. 2016); see also Alfred E. Mann Found. for Sci. Res.
v. Cochlear Corp., 841 F.3d 1334, 1346 (Fed. Cir. 2016).
“A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) challenges the viability of a complaint by
arguing that it fails to state a claim upon which relief may
be granted.” Camasta v. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers,
Inc., 761 F.3d 732, 736 (7th Cir. 2014). Under Rule
8(a)(2), a complaint must include “a short and plain
statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled
to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). The short and plain
statement under Rule 8(a)(2) must “give the defendant
fair notice of what the claim is and the grounds upon which
it rests.” Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 555 (2007) (citation omitted). Under the federal notice
pleading standards, a plaintiff's “factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
555. Put differently, a “complaint must contain
sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state
a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
determining the sufficiency of a complaint under the
plausibility standard, courts must “accept all
well-pleaded facts as true and draw reasonable inferences in
the plaintiffs' favor.” Roberts v. City of
Chicago, 817 F.3d 561, 564 (7th Cir. 2016). Some of the
facts the Court references come from exhibits attached to the
complaint. The Court may properly consider such attachments
in ruling on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. See
Phillips v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 714 F.3d 1017,
1019-20 (7th Cir. 2013); McWorthey v. Tech. Ins.
Co., No. 15-cv-5021, 2016 WL 4398063, at *3 n.3 (N.D.
Ill. Aug. 18, 2016). When the exhibits contradict the
allegations, “the exhibits trump the
allegations.” See Abcarian v. McDonald, 617
F.3d 931, 933 (7th Cir. 2010); McWorthey, 2016 WL
4398063, at *3 n.3.
Code Title 35, Section 271(a) governs direct patent
infringement and provides that “whoever without
authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented
invention, within the United States . . . during the term of
the patent therefor, infringes the patent.” 35 U.S.C.
§ 271(a). “To prove infringement, the patentee
must show that an accused product embodies all limitations of
the claim [that the patentee alleges the defendant infringed]
either literally or by the doctrine of equivalents.”
Cephalon, Inc. v. Watson Pharm., Inc., 707 F.3d
1330, 1340 (Fed. Cir. 2013); see also Profectus Tech. LLC
v. Huawei Techs. Co., 823 F.3d 1375, 1382 (Fed. Cir.
2016) (“The infringement inquiry asks if an accused
device contains every claim limitation or its
equivalent.”). “To establish literal
infringement, every limitation set forth in a claim must be
found in an accused product, exactly.” Advanced
Steel Recovery, LLC v. X-Body Equip., Inc., 808 F.3d
1313, 1319 (Fed. Cir. 2015) (quoting Southwall Techs.,
Inc. v. Cardinal IG Co., 54 F.3d 1570, 1575 (Fed. Cir.
applying the Twombly-Iqbal standard to patent
infringement claims have required plaintiffs to set forth
sufficient facts to plausibly allege that the accused product
embodies every limitation in a particular asserted claim.
See, e.g., Scripps Res. Inst. v. Illumina,
Inc., No. 16-cv-661 JLS (BGS), 2016 WL 6834024, at *4
(S.D. Cal. Nov. 21, 2016); Atlas IP, LLC v. Exelon
Corp., 189 F.Supp.3d 768, 775 (N.D. Ill. 2016). This
requirement flows naturally from the Twombly/Iqbal
standard and the burden of proof in a patent infringement
case “because ‘the failure to meet a single
limitation is sufficient to negate infringement of [a]
claim.'” e.Digital Corp. v. iBaby ...