Mar

08

Sham Litigation Allegations Held Sufficient to Avoid Dismissal under Noerr-Pennington Doctrine

Posted by : Matthew Wild | On : March 8, 2009

As examined in the February 17, 2009 Post, there have been a number of recent appeallte decisions reviewing successful Noerr-Pennington immunity defense assertions.   Alternative Electrodes, LLC v. EPMI, Inc., No. 08-CV-1247 (JFB)(ETB), 2009 WL 250474 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 4, 2009), provides a recent illustration of the allegations necessary to defeat that defense.
In that case, plaintiff, a medical device manufacturer, claims that its competitor filed sham patent litigation against it and other competitors and made false statements about the patent litigation to plaintiff’s customers to allow it to monopolize (or gain a dangerous probability of monopolizing) the market for electrical muscle stimulation devices used to treat difficulty swallowing.  Plaintiff alleged, among other things, “from the beginning of the patent litigation that the primary, if not sole purpose, of instigating suit was to advise customers of the pending (but meritless) litigation and attempt to drive [plaintiff] from the market.  The litigation was objectively unreasonable and was initiated in order to interfere directly with [plaintiff’s] business relationships and activities. …  The sham patent suit strategy failed.  Recognizing the frivolity of the claim in light of prior art, these Defendants completely dismissed their suit … without any penalty or payment of any kind.”  Id. at *7.  The Court held that “such allegations are sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss” based on the Noerr-Pennington immunity defense because “Plaintiff alleges that the litigation was both subjectively and objectively baseless and plausibly supports this claim with the assertion that there could be no valid patent claim due to the existence of ‘prior art.’”  Id.

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