United States District Court, D. New Jersey
For WIRELESS MEDIA INNOVATIONS, LLC (2:14-cv-07004-JLL-JAD, 2:14-cv-07006-JLL-JAD), Plaintiff: STAMATIOS STAMOULIS, LEAD ATTORNEY, STAMOULIS & WEINBLATT LLC, WILMINGTON, DE.
For MAHER TERMINALS, LLC, Defendant (2:14-cv-07004-JLL-JAD): CHARLES A. WEISS, LEAD ATTORNEY, Holland & Knight, NEW YORK, NY.
For GLOBAL TERMINAL & CONTAINER SERVICES, LLC, Defendant (2:14-cv-07006-JLL-JAD): CHARLES A. WEISS, LEAD ATTORNEY, Holland & Knight, NEW YORK, NY; JOHN CHARLES CLEARY, LEAD ATTORNEY, VEDDER PRICE PC, NEW YORK, NY.
Jose L. Linares, United States District Judge.
This matter comes before the Court by way of TWO motions to dismiss Plaintiff Wireless Media Innovations, LLC (" Plaintiff')'s Complaints in two separate actions against Defendant Maher Terminals, LLC (" Maher" ) and Defendant Global Terminal & Container Services, LLC (" Global" )(Collectively " Defendants" ) under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (CM/ECF No. 14; No. 14). No oral argument was heard pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78. The Court has considered the submissions and arguments made in support of and in opposition to the instant motions. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motions are GRANTED.
Plaintiff' is a limited liability company organized under the laws of Delaware. (Maher Comp. at ¶ ¶ 1-2). Plaintiff is the owner of two patents covering certain systems and methods relating to the monitoring of shipping containers. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 7-9). The Patents are U.S. Patent Number 6,148,291 (" '291 Patent" ) and U.S. Patent 5,712,789 (" '789 Patent" ). Maher is a limited liability corporation organized under the laws of Delaware, with its principle place of business in New Jersey. ( Id. at ¶ 2). Global is a limited liability corporation organized under the laws of Delaware, with its principle place of business in New Jersey, as well. (Global Comp. at ¶ 2). In nearly identical Complaints, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants operate at least one terminal operating system and operative methods associated therewith to monitor the locations and load statuses of containers at Defendants' respective terminals. (Maher and Global Comp. at ¶ 11). Plaintiff alleges that by monitoring the containers, Defendants infringed and continue to infringe on one or more claims of Plaintiff's '291 Patent and Plaintiff's '789 Patent. ( Id. at ¶ 12). Plaintiff has pled one count of infringement for each of its two Patents, against each Defendant, respectively. ( Id. at ¶ ¶ 10-17).
Defendants filed two separate motions to dismiss asserting that Plaintiff's Patents are ineligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. § 101 because they are directed at an abstract idea. The principal issues are whether the Court can assess invalidity under § 101 before formal claim construction, and, if so, whether the Patents are, in fact, ineligible for patent protection according to the abstractness test articulated in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int'l, 134 S.Ct. 2347, 189 L.Ed.2d 296 (2014).
II. LEGAL STANDARD
For a complaint to survive dismissal, it " 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, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009) (citing Bell A. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 (2007)). " Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Id. In determining the sufficiency of a complaint, the Court must accept all well-pleaded factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party. See Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008). But, " the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint is inapplicable to legal conclusions." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. Thus, legal conclusions draped in the guise of factual allegations may not benefit from the presumption of truthfulness. Id.; In re Nice Sys., Ltd. Sec. Litig., 135 F.Supp.2d 551, 565 (D.N.J. 2001).
A. Motions Before the Court
1. Defendants' Motions
Defendants contend that dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaints is warranted on the following grounds: (1) The question of Patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C.§ 101 can and should be decided at the Pleading stage on a motion to dismiss; (2) In view of Bilski, Mayo, and Alice, the '789 and '291 Patents claim ineligible subject matter; and (3) in the alternative, Plaintiff's Complaints should be dismissed under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for failing to comply with Twombly and Iqbal.
2. Plaintiff's Opposition
Plaintiff rebuts Defendants' arguments on the following grounds: (1) Defendants' motions are premature; (2) The Patents in suit claim patent-eligible subject matter; and (3) Plaintiff's Complaints satisfy the pleading standard.
B. The Patents
The '789 Patent entitled " CONTAINER MONITORING SYSTEM AND METHOD", was filed on August 28, 1995 and was issued on January 27, 1998. The abstract to the '789 patent states:
A container monitoring system and method tracks location and load status of shipping containers within a defined premises and generates container status reports for customers receiving containers, suppliers or shippers of goods, and container carriers. Carrier and container identifiers are used to track and monitor movements and status of each container from a point of departure to a final destination and return. A combined computer and telecommunications system is also disclosed for executing the tasks of the container monitoring system.
The '291 Patent entitled " CONTAINER AND INVENTORY MONITORING METHODS AND SYSTEMS", was filed on January 26, 1998 and was issued on November 14, 2000. The application for the '291 patent was " related to" the '888 application, on which the '789 Patent was granted. The abstract to the '291 patent states:
Container and inventory monitoring methods and systems provide detailed logistical control of containers, shipping racks and resident and in-transit inventory. The methods and systems create and maintain accurate real-time records of the location, movement and load status of containers, racks and inventory within the facility boundaries and between facilities such as factories, assembly plants, warehouses, shipping yards and freight switching facilities. Detailed data on container switching, unloading and loading activity is recorded and archived. A virtual inventory accounting is provided by tracking from customer release orders to supplier shipments and rack returns.
The following claims are representative of the patents and read as follows: Claim 1 of the '789 patent recites:
1. A container monitoring system for accumulating and storing information on shipping containers including container location and container load status, the system comprising:
a receiving area for receiving containers to be monitored by the system, said receiving area within a defined boundary within which containers are to be monitored by the system,
a container entry point at the boundary at which containers are identified by pre-existing identification codes which are recorded at the container entry point,
a switching vehicle for moving containers to and from a receiving area and to and from a facility within the boundary according to ...