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Bonutti Skel Innovations, LLC v. Globus Medical Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

June 15, 2015

BONUTTI SKEL INNOVATIONS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
GLOBUS MEDICAL INC., Defendant.

OPINION

WENDY BEETLESTONE, J.

I. INTRODUCTION

In this intellectual property dispute, Plaintiff Bonutti Skel Innovations, LLC (“Bonutti”), the owner of numerous patents relating to orthopedic implants, alleges that defendant Globus Medical Inc. (“Globus”), a maker of spinal implants, has infringed six of its patents. Specifically, Bonutti asserts patent infringement claims under a variety of rubrics with respect to Patent Nos. 6, 099, 531 (the “’531 patent”), 6, 423, 063 (the “’063 patent”), 7, 001, 385 (the “’385 patent”), 8, 486, 066 (the “’066 patent”), 8, 690, 944 (the “’944 patent”), and 8, 795, 363 (the “’363 patent”) (collectively, “the Asserted Patents”). Now before the Court is Globus’ Motion to Dismiss Claims of Joint, Indirect, and Willful Infringement. The Court held oral argument on the motion on May 12, 2015.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Bonutti is the assigned owner of the six Asserted Patents: the ’531 patent, titled “Changing Relationship Between Bones”; the ’063 patent, titled “Changing Relationship Between Bones”; the ’385 patent, titled “Joint Spacer With Compartment For Orthobiological Material”; the ’066 patent, titled “Spacer”; the ’944 patent, titled “Wedge Apparatus for Use in Operating on a Bone”; and the ’363 patent, titled “Wedge Apparatus for Use in Operating on a Bone.” Compl. ¶¶ 6-11; id. Exs. A-F. Dr. Peter M. Bonutti, an orthopedic surgeon, is the named inventor for all six patents, which disclose claims “relate[d] to novel bone spacers and related novel surgical methods that Dr. Bonutti invented.” Compl. ¶ 15.

Defendant Globus is a maker of spinal implants. Mot. at 1. According to the First Amended Complaint (the “Complaint”), [1] Globus manufactures, sells, and distributes instructional materials for spinal spacers that infringe one or more of Bonutti’s patents. These products include the Globus Medical CALIBER, CALIBER-L, COALITION, COLONIAL, CONTINENTAL, FORGE, FORTIFY, FORTIFY I PEEK, FORTIFY I-R, INDEPENDENCE, INTERCONTINENTAL, MONUMENT, NIKO, RISE, SIGNATURE, SUSTAIN ARCH, SUSTAIN LARGE, SUSTAIN MEDIUM, SUSTAIN-O, SUSTAIN SMALL, and TRANSCONTINENTAL spinal spacers and related instruments. See Compl. ¶¶ 19, 36, 49, 60, 74, 88. Bonutti alleges that Globus: (1) directly infringed, on a theory of joint liability, unspecified method claims in the ’531 and ’063 patents (Counts I and II); and (2) indirectly infringed unspecified claims in all six patents on both an induced infringement and contributory infringement theory (Counts I-VI). Finally, Bonutti alleges that Globus’ infringement was willful (Counts I-VI).[2] Globus moves to dismiss these claims.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

“To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint 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 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “In light of Twombly, ‘it is no longer sufficient to allege mere elements of a cause of action; instead a complaint must allege facts suggestive of [the proscribed conduct].’” Great W. Mining & Mineral Co. v. Fox Rothschild LLP, 615 F.3d 159, 177 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)). Consistent with the Supreme Court’s rulings in Twombly and Iqbal, the Third Circuit requires a two-step analysis when reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Edwards v. A.H. Cornell & Son, Inc., 610 F.3d 217, 219 (3d Cir. 2010). First, a court should separate the factual and legal elements of a claim, accepting the facts and disregarding the legal conclusions. Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210-11 (3d Cir. 2009). Second, a court should determine whether the remaining well-pled facts sufficiently show that the plaintiff “has a ‘plausible claim for relief.’” Id. at 211 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679).

“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged. The plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, ’ but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. Where a complaint pleads facts that are ‘merely consistent with’ a defendant’s liability, it ‘stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief.’” Great W. Mining, 615 F.3d at 177 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556-57 (internal quotation marks omitted)). At bottom, the question is not whether the claimant “will ultimately prevail . . . but whether his complaint [is] sufficient to cross the federal court’s threshold.” Skinner v. Switzer, 562 U.S. 521, __, 131 S.Ct. 1289, 1297 (2011).

IV. DISCUSSION

Globus moves to dismiss Bonutti’s direct method claims, which Bonutti has alleged under 35 U.S.C. § 271(a) only with respect to the ’531 and ’063 patents (Counts I and II).

Globus also moves to dismiss Bonutti’s indirect infringement claims, which were brought with respect to all six Asserted Patents (Counts I-VI). With respect to these claims, Bonutti alleges that Globus is indirectly liable for both: (1) induced infringement, codified under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b); and, (2) contributory infringement, codified under 35 U.S.C. § 271(c). Finally, Globus moves to dismiss Bonutti’s claim for willful infringement. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Globus’ motion.

A. Direct Infringement of Method Claims (Counts I and II)

Section 271 of the Patent Act codifies the elements of patent infringement. 35 U.S.C. ยง 271. Subsection (a) governs ...


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