Monday, July 22, 2013

alleged patent infringement doesn't violate Lanham Act

Seoul Laser Dieboard System Co., Ltd. v. Serviform, S.r.l., 2013 WL 3761535 (S.D. Cal.)

Seoul Laser alleged that defendants infringed its patents and violated the Lanham Act. Some of the patent claims survived the motion to dismiss, but not the Lanham Act claims.  The court found it unclear whether Seoul Laser raised a §43(a)(1)(A) or (a)(1)(B) claim, and, while other courts are more forgiving, noted that “[t]his ambiguity alone raises fair notice concerns.”  Regardless, Seoul Laser failed to state a claim.  As for §43(a)(1)(A), “origin” means the producer of tangible goods, not the author of ideas etc. embodied therein.  The allegations that the sale of infringing machines would confuse and deceive the public into thinking that defendants’ products were Seoul Lasers were insufficient.  Seoul Laser appeared to allege only that it owned the patents embodied by defendants’ machines, so defendants were creating confusion as to inventorship, and that’s Dastar-barred.

The complaint also failed to state a false advertising claim, which was subject to Rule 9(b)’s heightened pleading standard because district courts have said so.  Here, Seoul Laser failed to identify a particular false statement or explain why it was misleading.  Tortious interference claims failed for similar reasons.

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