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Britax Child Safety, Inc. v. Nuna International B.V.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

July 26, 2018

BRITAX CHILD SAFETY, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
NUNA INTERNATIONAL B.V. and NUNA BABY ESSENTIALS, INC, Defendants.

          OPINION DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS TO DISMISS, ECF NO. 26-12(B)(6) DENIED AND 12(B)(2) DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE AND WITH LEAVE GRANTED TO CONDUCT JURISDICTIONAL DISCOVERY

          JOSEPH F. LEESON, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         In this patent infringement case, Plaintiff Britax Child Safety, Inc. alleges that the Defendants, Nuna International, B.V. (“Nuna B.V.”) and Nuna Baby Essentials, Inc. (“Nuna B.E.”) infringed its patent for a specific design of a child's car seat. The Defendants move to dismiss the Amended Complaint and argue that Nuna B.V., a Dutch company, is not subject to personal jurisdiction in this Court and that Britax has not stated a patent infringement claim. For the reasons discussed below, this Court denies Defendants' motion to the extent that Defendants seek to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) and denies the motion without prejudice with respect to personal jurisdiction to allow the parties to conduct jurisdictional discovery.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are drawn from Britax's Amended Complaint. Plaintiff Britax Child Safety, Inc. is a leader in child safety technology. Am. Compl. ¶ 11, ECF No. 23. Britax, which is both incorporated and principally operated in South Carolina, “designs, develops, tests, and builds . . . industry-leading child safety restraints, including its child safety car seats.” Id. Britax has a significant investment in the protection of its innovations, including over fifty United States utility and design patents and patent applications. Id. ¶ 13.

         Defendant Nuna B.V. is incorporated and principally operated in the Netherlands. Id. ¶ 3. Defendant Nuna B.E., which is incorporated and principally operated in Pennsylvania, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nuna B.V. Id. ¶ 4. Similar to Britax, Nuna B.V. and Nuna B.E. focus on researching and developing child safety technologies and offering child safety products. Id. ¶ 7.

         Britax alleges that Defendants violated 35 U.S.C. § 271(a) by infringing two of its patents: United States Patent No. 9, 586, 504 (‘504), issued on March 7, 2017, and United States Patent No. 9, 499, 074 (‘074), issued on November 22, 2017. Id. ¶¶ 14-15. Both patents are entitled “Forward and Rearward Facing Child Seat with Belt Tensioning Mechanism for Improved Installation.” Id. ¶¶ 14-15. The two patents “related to a child safety seat that may be used in either a forward or rearward facing orientation and includes a tensioning mechanism to more fully secure the child safety seat to a vehicle seat, ” thus improving the ease of installation of the child safety seat. Id. ¶ 16.

         Britax argues that Defendants infringed on claim thirteen of the ‘504 patent. Id. ¶ 17. The claim states the following:

A child seat configured to be secured to a vehicle seat in both a rear-facing and a forward-facing orientation by a belt of the vehicle seat, the child seat comprising:
a seat base comprising a seat portion, a backrest portion, a first belt path generally at a middle of the seat portion in a forward and rearward direction, and a second belt path generally at an intersection of the seat and backrest portions, first and second lateral edges that protrude forwardly and upwardly from opposing sides of the backrest portion proximate to the second belt path, third and fourth lateral edges that protrude forwardly and upwardly from opposing sides of the seat portion proximate to the first belt path;
a pivot structure having a first pivot portion comprising a first lateral edge member and a second lateral edge member, the pivot structure attached to the backrest portion at an axis such that the pivot structure rotates between a first position and a second position pivotally about the axis, the first and second lateral edge members extending away from the backrest and substantially perpendicular to the axis, wherein in the first position, the first pivot portion is substantially adjacent to the seat base, and wherein in the second position, the first pivot portion is at least partly displaced from the seat base in order to enable the second belt path to receive the belt;
the pivot structure having a second pivot portion comprising a third lateral edge member and a fourth lateral edge member, the third and fourth lateral edge members moving between a third position proximate to the seat portion and a fourth position at least partly displaced from the seat portion in order to enable the first belt path to receive the belt,
wherein the first belt path is configured to allow a user to position the belt to be displaced by the third and fourth lateral edge members relative to the third and fourth lateral edges to secure the child seat to the vehicle seat when the child seat is in the rear-facing orientation, and
wherein the second belt path is configured to allow the user to position the belt to be displaced by the first and second lateral edge members relative to the first and second lateral edges to secure the child seat to the vehicle seat when the child seat is in the forward-facing orientation.

Id.

         Britax also argues that Defendants infringed on claim one of the ‘074 patent. Id. ¶ 18. The claim states the following:

A child seat configured to be secured to a vehicle seat in both a rear-facing and front-facing orientation, the child seat comprising:
a seat base defining a seat portion, a backrest portion, and first and second lateral edges that protrude forwardly and upwardly from the seat and backrest portions,
wherein the seat base is configured to receive a belt of the vehicle seat in an untensioned state to secure the child seat to the vehicle seat in an untensioned configuration;
and a tensioning mechanism having a proximal end pivotally attached to the backrest portion of the seat base and a distal end comprising a sitting surface for an occupant of the child seat and an engaging surface facing opposition to the sitting surface,
wherein the tensioning mechanism is movable downwardly and forwardly to a first position substantially adjacent to the seat base and upwardly and rearwardly to a second position displaced therefrom,
wherein placing the tensioning mechanism in the second position allows the seat base to receive the belt, and movement of the tensioning mechanism from the second position to the first position presses the belt against the first and second edges and deflects a portion of the belt between first and second edges to be closer to the seat or backrest portion than portions of the belt that engage the first and second edges and thus applies tension to the belt to secure the child seat to the vehicle seat in a tensioned configuration,
wherein the seat base of the child seat is configured to receive the belt when the seat base is in both a rear-facing orientation and when the seat base is in a front-facing orientation.

Id.

         Britax includes these patented features in a variety of its car seat products. Id. ¶¶ 19-20. Britax alleges that “Nuna, without authorization from Britax, makes, uses, imports, offers for sale, and sells in the United States child safety seats covered at least by the ...


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