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FYF-JB, LLC v. Pet Factory, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

September 24, 2019

FYF-JB LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
Pet Factory, Inc., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Honorable Thomas M. Durkin, United States District Judge.

         FYF-JB, LLC sued Pet Factory, Inc. for allegedly infringing its patent covering a tug toy for animals that emits a sound when it is pulled on both sides. Pet Factory moved to dismiss FYF-JB's complaint, arguing that the asserted claims are not directed to patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101, and that the claims are also invalid for failing to comply with the “regards as his invention” requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 112. For the following reasons, Pet Factory's motion is denied.

         Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), a party may move for judgment on the pleadings “[a]fter the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial.” The standard applied to motions under Rule 12(c) is the same standard applied to dismissals under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Buchanan-Moore v. Cnty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009). The complaint must provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Through this statement, defendants must be provided with “fair notice” of the claim and the basis for it. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This means the 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). “’A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.’” Boucher v. Fin. Sys. of Green Bay, Inc., 880 F.3d 362, 366 (7th Cir. 2018) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). In applying this standard, the Court accepts all well-pleaded facts as true and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. Tobey v. Chibucos, 890 F.3d 634, 646 (7th Cir. 2018).

         Background

         FYF-JB is the owner of U.S. Patent 9, 681, 643 (the ‘643 patent), issued on June 20, 2017. R. 1 ¶ 9. The patent is titled “Tug Toy.” Id. The ‘643 patent’s “Background of the Invention’” section states as follows:

The use of toys to entertain animals, particularly pets, have been widely used in the pet supply industry for many different purposes. For example, tug toys keep pets occupied. Tug toys also allow pets to chew on an object when they are “teething, ” they allow owners to play “fetch” with their pets, and tug toys can also be used to play with and/or train dogs. Noise makers such as squeak toys are known, however, there is currently no tug toy that emits a sound when at least two pets, or a pet and its owner, pull a tug toy. Therefore, what is needed is a tug toy that emits a sound when at least two pets, or a pet and its owner, pull both members of the tug toy.

R. 1-1 col. 1 Claim 1 recites:

         A tug toy comprising:

at least one gripping member and a central portion, wherein said at least one gripping member is attached to said central portion, and
wherein said central portion further includes a noise maker,
wherein said at least one gripping member is adapted to transmit force to said central portion and
wherein said force comprises a first lateral force directed away from the central portion in the direction of a first gripping member.

Id. col 5.

         Claim 12 recites:

         A tug toy capable of being gripped by a pet, said ...


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