January 27, 2017 Top Story

The Age of Detailed Patent Pleadings

Federal circuit decision applies Iqbal to patent complaints

By Adam E. Lyons

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a ruling explaining the proper standard for judging the sufficiency of patent claims filed since 2015 and instructs on how to treat a change in law between an underlying decision and an appeal. Claims of patent infringement are now required to set forth plausible facts to support their allegations or will be dismissed for a lack of specificity. The ruling means the "age of detailed pleadings in patent cases is upon us. That is certainly the message here. Even without this case, that is the message," says Michael P. Padden, Cleveland, OH, cochair of the Patent Litigation Subcommittee of the ABA Section of Litigation's Intellectual Property Litigation Committee.


In Lyda v. CBS, the Federal Circuit determined the abrogation of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 84 and the accompanying forms for civil complaints means that the sufficiency of a complaint drafted in accordance with those forms would nonetheless be judged according to the pleading standards of Ashcroft v. Iqbal and Bell Atlantic v. Twombly. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant and independent contractors under the defendant's control had jointly infringed patents concerning methods for obtaining participation by a television audience through the use of cell phones (related, in this case, to CBS's Big Brother television show). When the defendant threatened to move to dismiss the complaint, the plaintiff amended to try to resolve the perceived issue by filing an amended complaint that followed Federal Rule of Civil Procedure form 18.

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