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Intellectual Ventures II LLC v. Fedex Corporation

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Marshall Division

December 1, 2017

INTELLECTUAL VENTURES II LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDEX CORPORATION, FEDERAL EXPRESS CORPORATION, FEDEX GROUND PACKAGE SYSTEM, INC., FEDEX FREIGHT, INC., FEDEX CUSTOM CRITICAL, INC., FEDEX OFFICE AND PRINT SERVICES, INC., GENCO DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          RODNEY GILSTRAP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Intellectual Ventures II LLC's (“Plaintiff” or “Intellectual Ventures”) Motion to Treat FedEx's Rule 12(c) Motions as Summary Judgment Motions and Deny Them as Exceeding the Page Limits, or in the Alternative to Extend Intellectual Ventures' Time to Respond (Dkt. No. 150) (“the Motion”). Having reviewed the Parties' Arguments, the Court GRANTS the Motion to the extent Plaintiff seeks an extension and CARRIES the Motion as to converting Defendants' Motions under 12(c) into motions under Rule 56.

         I. Background

         This case relates to allegations of patent infringement by Plaintiff against FedEx Corporation (“FedEx Corp.”), Federal Express Corporation (“FedEx Express”), FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. (“FedEx Ground”), FedEx Freight, Inc. (“FedEx Freight”), FedEx Custom Critical, Inc. (“FedEx Custom Critical”), FedEx Office and Print Services, Inc. (“FedEx Office”), and GENCO Distribution System, Inc. (“FedEx Supply Chain”) (collectively, “FedEx” or “Defendants”). (Dkt. No. 1.) Plaintiff alleges that Defendants infringe five different patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 6, 633, 900 (“the '900 Patent”); 6, 909, 356 (“the '356 Patent”); 7, 199, 715 (“the '715 Patent”); 8, 494, 581 (“the '581 Patent”); and 9, 047, 586 (“the '586 Patent”) (collectively, “the Asserted Patents”).

         On October 24, 2017, just two days before the claim construction hearing scheduled in this case, Defendants filed five separate motions arguing that each of the five Asserted Patents are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. (Dkt. Nos. 136, 137, 138, 139, 140.) These motions were each styled as motions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). (Id.) However, each motion also included exhibits that were not attached to the Complaint together with arguments relating to these exhibits. (Dkt. Nos. 136-1, 136-2, 136-3, 136-4, 136-5, 137-1, 138-3, 139-1, 140-1, 140-2.)

         On October 26, 2017, the Court held a claim construction hearing addressing the Parties disputed terms. (Dkt. No. 147.)

         On November 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant motion seeking either an extension of its deadline to respond to Defendants' motions under Rule 12(c) or a conversion of Defendants' motions under Rule 12(c) into motions under Rule 56, with the Court then denying these motions as premature and exceeding the page limit established by the Local Rules for motions under Rule 56. (Dkt. No. 150.)

         On November 29, the Court provided its constructions of the Asserted Patents. (Dkt. No. 165.)

         II. Legal Standard

         “A motion brought pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c) 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.” Hebert Abstract Co., Inc. v. Touchstone Properties, Ltd., 914 F.2d 74, 76 (5th Cir.1990); McRO, Inc. v. Bandai Namco Games Am. Inc., 837 F.3d 1299, 1311 (Fed. Cir. 2016) (“We review procedural aspects of the grant of judgment on the pleadings under the law of the regional circuit . . . .”). In evaluating a motion under Rule 12(c), a court may look beyond the Complaint only after converting the motion into one for summary judgment, unless the additional materials or facts are amenable to judicial notice, attached to the Complaint, or incorporated therein. Great Plains Tr. Co. v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., 313 F.3d 305, 313 (5th Cir. 2002); Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d). However, “the mere submission or service of extraneous materials does not by itself convert a Rule 12(b)(6) or 12(c) motion into a motion for summary judgment.” U.S. ex rel. Long v. GSDMIdea City, L.L.C., 798 F.3d 265, 275 (5th Cir. 2015) (internal brackets omitted). In fact, “Rule 12(b) gives a district court complete discretion to determine whether or not to accept any material beyond the pleadings.” Isquith for & on Behalf of Isquith v. Middle S. Utilities, Inc., 847 F.2d 186, 194 n. 3 (5th Cir. 1988) (internal quotation marks omitted). The exercise of this discretion in any particular case depends on whether “the conversion of the motion facilitates the disposition of the case.” Woods v. City of Galveston, 5 F.Supp. 2d 494, 497 n.3 (S.D. Tex. 1998); Webb v. Taylor, No. 6:11-CV-14, 2011 WL 13220216, at *1 (E.D. Tex. Sept. 22, 2011) (same); 839 E. 19th St., LP v. Citibank, N.A., No. 3:11-CV-1238-M, 2011 WL 3510902, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Aug. 9, 2011); 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure, Civil. § 1366 (3d. ed. 2017).

         III. Discussion

         Plaintiff argues that this Court should treat Defendants' motions as ones for summary judgment because they are accompanied by exhibits, including interrogatory responses and declarations, which were not attached to the Complaint in this case. (Dkt. No. 150 at 1-2.)

         Plaintiff also argues that summary judgment is the proper mechanism to address Defendants' challenges under § 101 because ...


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