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Lyden v. Nike Inc.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 22, 2013

ROBERT M. LYDEN, Plaintiff,
v.
NIKE INC., an Oregon corporation, Defendant.

Robert M. Lyden, Pro Se, Aloha, OR,

Nathan C. Brunette, Per A. Ramfjord, Stoel Rives LLP, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

MARCO A. HERNANDEZ, District Judge.

Plaintiff Robert Lyden brings this action for patent infringement and several common law violations against Defendant Nike, Inc. Plaintiff Lyden alleges that Defendant Nike has infringed his U.S. Patent No. 8, 209, 883, "Custom Article of Footwear and Method of Making the Same, " and interfered with his ability to market his footwear patents. Nike moved to dismiss Lyden's common law claims and strike allegations regarding the use of performance enhancing drugs by athletes supported by Nike. Nike additionally moved to stay the case pending reexamination of the patent. I grant in part and deny in part the motion to dismiss. With the exception of the conversion claim, Lyden's common law claims fail to state a claim and do not comply with Rule 8's requirement for a short and plain statement. I also deny the motion to stay.

BACKGROUND

Lyden worked for Nike as a "Patents and Inventions Assistant" from 1990 to 1996. Compl. ¶ 16. He is a named inventor on several design and utility patents assigned to Nike. Id. at ¶ 30. Lyden alleges that Nike did not recognize him as a named inventor for other utility patents related to the "FREE athletic shoe." Id. at ¶ 36.

From 1996 to 1998, Lyden worked as an independent consultant to Nike. Id. at ¶ 42. Nike did not renew Lyden's contract at the end of 1998. Id. at ¶ 67. Lyden continued to share information about his pending patent applications with Nike. Id. at ¶ 76. Nike declined to license or buy Lyden's intellectual property. Id. at ¶ 77.

Lyden is the inventor of U.S. Patent No. 8, 209, 883 ("883 patent"), "Custom Article of Footwear and Method of Making the Same". Id. at ¶ 134. Lyden alleges that Nike's Flyknit shoe infringes on the 883 patent. Id. at ¶ 136-39. The 883 patent is currently under reexamination by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO"). Id. at ¶ 143.

The complaint also includes various allegations of performance enhancing drug use, Nike's fraudulent conduct before the PTO, and patent infringement by Adidas.

STANDARDS

A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the claims. Navarro v. Block , 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). "All allegations of material fact are taken as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party." Am. Family Ass'n, Inc. v. City & Cnty. of S.F. , 277 F.3d 1114, 1120 (9th Cir. 2002). However, the court need not accept conclusory allegations as truthful. Warren v. Fox Family Worldwide, Inc. , 328 F.3d 1136, 1139 (9th Cir. 2003) ("[W]e are not required to accept as true conclusory allegations which are contradicted by documents referred to in the complaint, and we do not necessarily assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations.") (quotation and citations omitted).

A motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) will be granted if plaintiff alleges the "grounds" of his "entitlement to relief" with nothing "more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action[.]" Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). "Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level...on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)[.]" Id . (citations and footnote omitted).

To survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face[, ]" meaning "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quotation omitted). Additionally, "only a complaint that states a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss." Id. at 679. The complaint must contain "well-pleaded facts" which "permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct." Id.

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff Lyden alleges the following claims: infringement of the 883 patent, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, negligent interference with prospective economic advantage, conversion, fraud, and unjust enrichment. Defendant Nike moves to dismiss only the state common law claims. Nike also moves to strike allegations that Nike has promoted the use of performance enhancing drugs. With respect to the patent infringement claim, Nike moves to stay the case pending the outcome of the reexamination of the 883 patent.

I. Motion to Dismiss

Nike argues that Lyden's state law claims are preempted by federal patent law, or alternatively, Lyden ...


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