Judge Thrash denied defendant Goodmail Systems, Inc.’s (“Goodmail’s”) Motion to Dismiss the case for failure to state a claim. Goodmail contended that the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S. Ct. 1955 (2007), which held that a claim in an antitrust action under Section 1 of the Sherman Act must set forth “plausible grounds” to infer an illegal agreement, altered the pleading standards in all federal cases to require more factual detail. Goodmail further contended that the plaintiff’s allegations of direct and indirect patent infringement, as set forth in the Complaint, failed to meet this heightened factual standard.
The Court disagreed with Goodmail’s reading of Twombly. In the Court’s view, the Supreme Court in Twombly applied the traditional “notice pleading” standard under Rule 8 of the Federal Rules in the antitrust context. Specifically, the Court understood Twombly’s “plausibility requirement” to force Sherman Act Section 1 plaintiffs to set forth more than an allegation of parallel (lawful) behavior and a bare assertion of an illegal agreement before being permitted to go forward with discovery. Judge Trash saw nothing new in such a requirement:
The [Supreme] Court’s “new standard” was merely a specific way to articulate a solution to what it perceived to be a specific pleading problem, in a specific area of law that inflicted a high cost upon antitrust defendants. It was not a broad based new license for federal courts to ramp up pleading requirements.Consequently, the Court found no basis in Twombly to require heightened fact pleading, particularly in the patent context. The Court felt that its conclusion was bolstered by Form 16 of the Federal Rules, which provides a "barebones" model for stating a claim in a patent infringement case. Further, the Court believed that imposing a heightened factual pleading requirement in patent cases is unnecessary because the Northern District of Georgia’s Local Patent Rules already require plaintiffs to disclose a great deal of extremely detailed information early in the case.
Thus, the Court concluded that Twombly did not alter the pleading standards for federal cases, especially patent infringement cases. Because the Court found the plaintiff’s allegations of patent infringement to be sufficient under Rule 8, Goodmail’s Motion to Dismiss was denied.