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Air Vent, Inc v. Owens Corning Corporation

June 30, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terrence F. McVerry United States District Judge


Pending before the Court is the MOTION TO DISMISS PURSUANT TO FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 12(b)(6), with brief in support (Document Nos. 22 and 23), filed by Defendant, Owens Corning Corporation, the OPPOSITION BRIEF filed by Plaintiff, Air Vent, Inc., (Document No. 34), and the REPLY BRIEF filed by Defendant, Owens Corning Corporation (Document No. 39).

Factual and Procedural Background

The facts set forth are based on the allegations of the Complaint. According to the Complaint, Air Vent is the owner by assignment of United States Patent Nos. 6,299,528 ("the "528 Patent"), entitled "End-Ventilating Adjustable Pitch Arcuate Roof Ventilator"; 6,482,084 ("the "084 Patent"), entitled "End-Ventilating Adjustable Pitch Arcuate Roof Ventilator"; and 6,793,574 ("the "574 Patent), entitled "Vent With Presecured Mechanical Fasteners" (collectively referred to as the "Patents-in-Suit.")

Air Vent manufactures and sells roof ridge ventilators ("ridge vents") under the trademark "SingleVent® II," which is covered by and marked with the numbers of the "528 Patent and the "084 Patent. The Complaint does not aver that the ShingleVent II is either covered or marked with the "574 Patent.

According to the Complaint, from 2000 through 2008, Air Vent manufactured for and sold to Owens Corning a four foot version of a ridge vent product under the name "VentSure Rigid Strip" that was substantially the same structurally and functionally as the ShingleVent II. In late January 2009, Owens Corning notified Plaintiff that it was terminating its contractual relationship with Air Vent for the purchase of ridge vent products that Air Vent had been selling to Owens Corning.

Air Vent alleges that it first "became concerned" with Owens Corning‟s new VentSure ridge vent product in June 2010. According to the Complaint, the VentSure ridge vent product incorporates the same ventilation technology disclosed and claimed in the Patents-in-Suit. Air Vent alleges that Owens Corning "by reason of its prior knowledge of the construction and proprietary nature of the ShingleVent II product, and the substantially identical ridge vent product that Plaintiff manufactured for it under its prior agreement, knew or had reason to believe that its VentSure ridge vent product infringed Plaintiff‟s "528 and "084 Patents. By reason of Defendant‟s business relationship with Plaintiff, Defendant knew or had reason to know of Plaintiff‟s "574 Patent and that its VentSure product would contribute to or cause inducement of infringement of that patent when sold with nails for presecurement therein. Despite this knowledge, Defendant willfully and in bad faith offers to sell, has sold and continues to sell the infringing VentSure ridge vent product." Complaint at ¶ 12.

Owens Corning moves to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) on the grounds that the Complaint does not contain factual averments sufficient to state plausible causes of action under inducement and contributory infringement of the "528, "084, and "574 Patents or direct infringement by Owens Corning of the "574 Patent. The issues have been fully briefed and the matter is ripe for disposition.

Standard of Review

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) challenges the legal sufficiently of the complaint filed by Plaintiff. The United States Supreme Court has held that "[a] plaintiff‟s obligation to provide the "grounds‟ of his "entitle[ment] to relief‟ requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007) (citing Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986)) (alterations in original).

The Court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts and allegations, and must draw all reasonable inferences therefrom in favor of the plaintiff. However, as the Supreme Court made clear in Twombly, the "factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Id. The United States Supreme Court has subsequently broadened the scope of this requirement, stating that only a complaint that states a plausibleclaim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, -- U.S. --, 129 S. Ct. 1937, 1950 (2009) (emphasis added).

Thus, after Iqbal, a district court must conduct a two-part analysis when presented with a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009). First, the Court must separate the factual and legal elements of the claim. Id. Although the Court "must accept all of the complaint‟s well-pleaded facts as true, [it] may disregard any legal conclusions." Id. at 210-11. Second, the Court "must then determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief.‟ In other words, a complaint must do more than allege the plaintiff‟s entitlement to relief. A complaint has to "show‟ such an entitlement with its facts." Id. at 211 (citing Iqbal 129 S. Ct. at 1949). The determination for "plausibility" will be ""a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.‟" Id. at 211 (quoting Iqbal 129 S. Ct. at 1950).

As a result, "pleading standards have seemingly shifted from simple notice pleading to a more heightened form of pleading, requiring a plaintiff to plead more than the possibility of relief to survive a motion to dismiss." Id. at 211. That is, "all civil complaints must now set out "sufficient factual matter‟ to show that the claim is facially plausible. This then "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.‟" Id. at 210 (quoting Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. at 1948).

However, nothing in Twombly or Iqbal changed the other pleading standards for a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 must still be met. See Phillips v. Co. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 231 (3d Cir. 2008) (internal citations omitted). Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 requires a showing, rather than a blanket assertion, of entitlement to relief, and "contemplates the statement of circumstances, occurrences, and events in support of the claim presented and does not authorize a pleader‟s bare averment that he wants relief and is entitled to it." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 n.3 (internal citations and quotations omitted). Additionally, the United States Supreme Court did not abolish the Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) requirement that "the facts must be taken as true and a ...

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