Potter Voice v. Apple: Claims for Willfulness Survive Motion to Dismiss Where Siri Inventors Allegedly Understood of Patent Just before Employment with Apple

Potter Voice filed a patent violation action against Apple, alleging violation of U.S. Patent No. 5,729,659 (the ‘659 patent) through Apple items that contains Siri. This Year, Apple acquired an organization known as Siri, Corporation., which in 2007 “spun off” from SRI Worldwide, the organization that invented the Siri product now utilized on Apple’s iPhone 4S along with other Apple items.

Included in its patent violation action, Potter Voice alleged that Apple willfully infringed the ‘659 patent. Inside a motion to dismiss, Apple disputed if the allegations within the complaint adequately pled Apple’s understanding from the ‘659 patent.

In examining the motion to dismiss, the district court noted that “[w]hile courts have emphasized the significance of pleading the defendant’s understanding from the patent-in-suit, when, as here, the defendant is really a corporation, this pleading requirement ought to be evaluated with the scope of corporate law and agency concepts. It’s well-established that companies act through their workers as well as an agent’s understanding will normally be imputed towards the corporate principal as long as workers are acting inside the scope of the employment.”

Consequently, the district court discovered that to want the corporation understands the asserted patent would be to state that clear on the corporation’s employees have understanding of willful violation, it’s reliable advice the employees needed to possess understanding from the asserted patent should have some link with the choice willfully to infringe.

Potter Voice’s complaint alleged that “Apple discovered the ‘659 patent if this acquired Siri, Corporation. employees who have been the people from the SRI patents. The previous Siri, Corporation. employees were conscious of the ‘659 patent since it was reported for them within the prosecution good reputation for the SRI patents. These employees required their understanding from the ‘659 patent to Apple once they grew to become Apple employees within 2007. Apple, getting discovered the probability of violation from the ‘659 patent, nonetheless behaved in a manner that infringed.”

The district court came to the conclusion this was “not really a bare recitation from the legal aspects of willful violation, but comprises details describing the way the alleged infringer found discover the patent in suit.”

The district court also declined Apple’s assertion the allegations fell lacking the “plausibility” standard set by Iqbal and Twombly. “While willful violation isn’t comparable to fraud and for that reason isn’t susceptible to the stringent Rule 9(b) particularity requirement, the Iqbal and Twombly standards still apply. See Mitutoyo Corp. v. Cent. Buying LLC, 499 F.three dimensional 1284, 1290 (Given. Cir. 2007). Based on Apple, PVT’s theory of Apple’s understanding is not likely since the ‘659 patent never was reported through the examiners from the SRI patents, nor maybe it was the topic of any office action or rejection. Apple confesses the inventors from the later patents posted an info Statement Of Disclosure (IDS) naming the ‘659 patent as understanding of this patent. See id.

The district court discovered that these arguments visited the load from the evidence and weren’t proper for any resolution on the motion to dismiss. “Apple’s arguments, especially individuals the Siri inventors might have forgotten the ‘659 patent, visit the weight from the evidence as opposed to the sufficiency of PVT’s allegations. In the motion to dismiss stage, a legal court doesn’t to experience a full look at “probability,” but merely requests “greater than a sheer possibility that the defendant has behaved unlawfully.” See Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Wonderful its allegations recognized as true, PVT demonstrates greater than a sheer possibility that Apple was conscious of the asserted patent. It’s possible to reasonably infer the former SRI employees, who themselves understood from the ‘659 patent, later were built with a link with Apple’s willful violation.”

Accordingly, the district court refused the motion to dismiss the willfulness claim.

Potter Voice Technologies v. Apple Inc., et al., Case No. C 13-1710 CW (N.D. Cal.)