United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
GESTION PROCHE, INC.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Dialight Corporation's
(“Dialight”) Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
and to Dismiss the Complaint with Prejudice (Dkt. #10). After
considering the relevant motion and responses, the Court
denies Defendant's motion.
16, 2016, Gestion Proche, Inc. (“Gestion”) filed
its complaint against Dialight, alleging patent infringement
of U.S. Patent No. 7, 557, 524 (the “'524
Patent”). On October 10, 2016, Dialight filed the
present motion for judgment on the pleadings (Dkt. #10). On
November 11, 2016, Gestion filed a response (Dkt. #14). On
December 5, 2016, Dialight filed a reply (Dkt. #17).
the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay
trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). A Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the
pleadings “is designed to dispose of cases where the
material facts are not in dispute and a judgment on the
merits can be rendered by looking to the substance of the
pleadings and any judicially noticed facts.” Great
Plains Tr. Co. v. Morgan Stanley Dean Winter & Co.,
313 F.3d 305, 312 (5th Cir. 2002) (quoting Herbert
Abstract Co. v. Touchstone Props., Ltd., 914 F.2d 74, 76
(5th Cir. 1990)).
standard for deciding a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the
pleadings is the same as a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss.
Guidry v. Am. Pub. Life Ins. Co., 512 F.3d 177, 180
(5th Cir. 2007). In examining a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, the Court must accept as true all well-pleaded
facts in plaintiff's complaint and view those facts in
the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Bowlby v. City
of Aberdeen, 681 F.3d 215, 219 (5th Cir. 2012). The
Court may consider “the complaint, any documents
attached to the complaint, and any documents attached to the
motion to dismiss that are central to the claim and
referenced by the complaint.” Lone Star Fund V
(U.S.), L.P. v. Barclays Bank PLC, 594 F.3d 383, 387
(5th Cir. 2010). The Court must then determine whether the
complaint states a claim for relief that is plausible on its
face. ‘“A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the [C]ourt to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.'” Gonzalez v.
Kay, 577 F.3d 600, 603 (5th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)).
“But where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the
[C]ourt to infer more than the mere possibility of
misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not
‘show[n]'-‘that the pleader is entitled to
relief.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting
Iqbal, the Supreme Court established a two-step
approach for assessing the sufficiency of a complaint. First,
the Court should identify and disregard conclusory
allegations, for they are “not entitled to the
assumption of truth.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 664.
Second, the Court “consider[s] the factual allegations
in [the complaint] to determine if they plausibly suggest an
entitlement to relief.” Id. “This
standard ‘simply calls for enough facts to raise a
reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of
the necessary claims or elements.'” Morgan v.
Hubert, 335 F. App'x 466, 470 (5th Cir. 2009)
(citation omitted). This evaluation will “be a
context-specific task that requires the reviewing [C]ourt to
draw on its judicial experience and common sense.”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
“[t]o 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.”' Id. at 678 (quoting
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570)
moves for judgment on the pleadings for non-infringement of
the '524 Patent. Dialight makes two arguments in its
motion. First, Dialight argues that the preamble phrase
“[a]n illumination lighting device” is a
limitation of Claim 1. Because of this limitation, Dialight
further argues that its High Bay lighting control system is
not an “illumination lighting device.” Second,
Dialight argues the patent claims, specification, and file
history all show that the claimed “illumination
lighting device” is a “sign, display, or light
fixture” rather than an entire network or system like
the accused High Bay lighting product. The Court will analyze
each argument separately.
address Dialight's first argument, the Court must
determine whether the language of the preamble has any
limiting effect on the claimed invention. Generally, “a
preamble is not limiting ‘where a patentee defines a
structurally complete invention in the claim body and uses
the preamble only to state a purpose or intended use for the
invention.'” Catalina Mktg. Int'l, Inc. v.
Coolsavings.com, Inc., 289 F.3d 801, 808 (Fed. Cir.
2002) (quoting Rowe v. Dorr, 112 F.3d 473, 478 (Fed.
Cir. 1997)). “No litmus test defines when a preamble
limits claim scope.” Id. at 808. Instead,
“[w]hether to treat a preamble as a claim limitation is
determined on the facts of each case in light of the claim as
a whole and the invention described in the patent.”
Storage Tech. Corp. v. Cisco Sys., Inc., 329 F.3d
823, 831 (Fed. Cir. 2003).
cases discussing the preamble's effect on claim scope
have established three general situations where language in
the preamble may have limiting effect. First, “[w]hen
limitations in the body of the claim rely upon and derive
antecedent basis from the preamble, then the preamble may act
as a necessary component of the claimed invention.”
Eaton Corp. v. Rockwell Int'l Corp., 323 F.3d
1332, 1339 (Fed. Cir. 2003). Second, a preamble limits the
claimed invention if it “recites essential structure or
steps, or if it is ‘necessary to give life, meaning,
and vitality' to the claim.” Catalina
Mktg., 289 F.3d at 808 (citation omitted). Finally,
preamble language is limiting if there is ‘“clear
reliance on the preamble during prosecution to distinguish
the prior art.”' Intirtool, Ltd. v. Texar
Corp., 369 F.3d 1289, 1295 (Fed. Cir. 2004) (quoting
Catalina Mktg., 289 F.3d at 808).
contends the preamble provides antecedent basis and breathes
life and meaning into the claim. ...