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Adidas America, Inc v. Skechers USA, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Oregon

June 12, 2017

ADIDAS AMERICA, INC., a Delaware corporation; ADIDAS AG, a foreign entity, Plaintiffs,
v.
SKECHERS USA, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant.

          Stephen M. Feldman, Perkins Coie LLP, Mitchell G. Stockwell, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, Matias Ferrario and Michael Morlock, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, Of Attorneys for Plaintiffs.

          Kenneth R. Davis II and Parna A. Mehrbani, Lane Powell PC, Mark A. Samuels, Brian M. Berliner, Andrea LaFountain, and Sina S. Aria, O'Melveny & Myers LLP, Cameron W. Westin, O'Melveny & Myers LLP, Of Attorneys for Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING WILLFUL INFRINGEMENT

          Michael H. Simon United States District Judge.

         Plaintiffs adidas America, Inc. and adidas AG (collectively, “adidas”) bring this lawsuit against Defendant Skechers USA (“Skechers”) for patent infringement. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant's “Mega Blade 2.0” and “Mega Blade 2.5” shoes (collectively, the “Mega Blade shoes”) infringe on Plaintiffs' United States Patent Nos. 9, 339, 079 (the “'079 patent”) and 9, 345, 285 (the “'285 patent”) (collectively, the “patents-in-suit”). Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims of willful infringement. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants Defendant's motion.

         STANDARDS

         A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim may be granted only when there is no cognizable legal theory to support the claim or when the complaint lacks sufficient factual allegations to state a facially plausible claim for relief. Shroyer v. New Cingular Wireless Servs., Inc., 622 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2010). In evaluating the sufficiency of a complaint's factual allegations, the court must accept as true all well-pleaded material facts alleged in the complaint and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Wilson v. Hewlett-Packard Co., 668 F.3d 1136, 1140 (9th Cir. 2012); Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010). To be entitled to a presumption of truth, allegations in a complaint “may not simply recite the elements of a cause of action, but must contain sufficient allegations of underlying facts to give fair notice and to enable the opposing party to defend itself effectively.” Starr v. Baca, 652 F.3d 1202, 1216 (9th Cir. 2011). All reasonable inferences from the factual allegations must be drawn in favor of the plaintiff. Newcal Indus., Inc. v. Ikon Office Solution, 513 F.3d 1038, 1043 n.2 (9th Cir. 2008). The court need not, however, credit the plaintiff's legal conclusions that are couched as factual allegations. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009).

         A complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations to “plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, such that it is not unfair to require the opposing party to be subjected to the expense of discovery and continued litigation.” Starr, 652 F.3d at 1216. “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.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556 (2007)).

         BACKGROUND

         Adidas AG is the owner by assignment of the patents-in-suit. Adidas America is the exclusive licensee in the United States under the patents-in-suit. The '079 patent is titled “Shoe and Sole.” Issued on May 17, 2016, the '079 patent describes the invention as including specific “leaf spring elements” intended to provide cushioning properties that minimize disadvantages associated with the use of foamed materials, which are typically used in shoe construction. The '285 patent also is titled “Shoe and Sole.” Issued on May 24, 2016, the '285 patent describes the invention similarly. On July 11, 2016, Plaintiffs filed their complaint against Defendant in this action, alleging that Defendant's Mega Blade shoes infringe the patents-in-suit.

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendant directly and willfully infringed both patents-in-suit and that Defendant also infringed on the patents-in-suit indirectly by inducement. As alleged by Plaintiffs, the '285 patent application was published on June 16, 2011, and the '079 patent application was published nearly five years later, on March 3, 2016. Plaintiffs also allege that adidas introduced its Springblade shoe in June 2013 and its Springblade Ignite shoe in February 2015. (Unless otherwise indicated, the Court will refer in this Opinion and Order to both the Springblade shoe and the Springblade Ignite shoe simply as the “Springblade shoes.”) Plaintiffs further allege that the Springblade shoes practice the patents.

         After publication of a patent application, the claims made, as well as any further changes in the application, are available for review by the public. According to Plaintiffs, Defendant or its agents had access to, and allegedly actually accessed, the published applications leading to the patents-in-suit before the patents issued. Also according to Plaintiffs, Defendant was aware, before the filing of this lawsuit and even before the issuance of the patents, of the scope of patent protection that adidas was seeking-and would later be awarded by the U.S. Patent Office-for adidas's Springblade shoe technology. Id.

         Plaintiffs further allege that they launched their commercial implementation of the patents-in-suit in the form of the Springblade shoes before Defendant launched its accused Mega Blade shoes. According to Plaintiffs, Defendant had access to, and allegedly copied, the features and technology of Plaintiffs' Springblade shoes-including the inventions covered by the patents-in-suit-when Defendant created the Mega Blade shoes. Defendant's copying is evident, Plaintiffs assert, from a visual comparison of the parties' respective shoes. Public reports also show, according to Plaintiffs, that industry commenters and consumers recognized that Skechers “copied” the design and features of the Springblade shoes.

         DISCUSSION

         Defendant moves to dismiss Plaintiffs' willful infringement claims, asserting that the Complaint fails to allege that Defendant had pre-suit knowledge of the actual patents-in-suit. Defendant argues that Plaintiffs' allegations that Defendant had pre-suit knowledge of the pending applications ...


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