By Memorandum Opinion entered by The Honorable Richard G. Andrews in Express Mobile, Inc. v. Squarespace, Inc., Civil Action No. 20-1163-RGA (D.Del. August 25, 2021), the Court, inter alia, denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s claims of direct infringement.
By way of background, Plaintiff’s complaint alleges that Defendant infringes U.S. Patent Nos. 6,546,397 (“the ‘397 patent”), 7,594,168 (“the ‘168 patent”), 9,063,755 (“the ‘755 patent”), 9,471,287 (“the ‘287 patent”), and 9,928,044 (“the ‘044 patent”) (collectively, “the Asserted Patents”) through its use of certain website building tools. Defendant, among other things, moved to dismiss Plaintiff’s allegations of direct infringement. Id. at *2-3. In short, Defendant asserted that Plaintiff’s complaint does not contain sufficient factual allegations to plausibly allege that the accused instrumentalities – primarily, the Squarespace website builder platform – meet the limitations of the asserted claims. Id. at *4. Defendant also argued for some claims that Plaintiff has not alleged that the claim limitations are met under certain claim constructions. Id.
In response, Plaintiff argued that its complaint does meet the plausibility pleading standard as set forth in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Id. Plaintiff explained that the level of detail that Defendant was attempting to require from it is not required at the pleading stage and that Defendant was “prematurely seeking detailed infringement contentions” at the pleading stage. Id.
In denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff’s allegations of direct infringement, the Court agreed with Plaintiff. Id. The Court explained that “[t]he Complaint identifies the patents at issue, details how the Accused Instrumentalities build a user’s website, and explains how the actions infringe on each Asserted Patent. The Complaint need not allege “specific facts” to meet the plausibility pleading standard, but must put the alleged infringer on fair notice of the claim of infringement and the grounds upon which it rests.” Id. (citing Disc Disease Solutions Inc. v. VGH Solutions, Inc., 888 F.3d 1256, 1260 (Fed. Cir. 2018)).
The Court further explained that the complaint need not explain how each element of an asserted claim is met by the accused instrumentalities. Id. at *5. The “purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of the complaint, not to decide the merits.” Id. The merits of Defendant’s arguments concerning claim construction and specific details of how the accused instrumentalities map to each claim element are properly tested at future stages of the litigation (e.g. summary judgment). Id.
A copy of the Memorandum Opinion is attached.