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Medical Products Labs v. Premier Dental Products

Medical Products Labs v. Premier Dental Products

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Published by propertyintangible
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Categories:Business/Law
Published by: propertyintangible on Feb 08, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/08/2013

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
MEDICAL PRODUCTS LABORATORIES, INC.,::CIVIL ACTIONPlaintiff,::v.::NO. 12-6051PREMIER DENTAL PRODUCTS COMPANY,::Defendant.:
MEMORANDUM
BUCKWALTER, S.J.January 31, 2013Currently pending before the Court is the Motion by Defendant Premier Dental ProductsCompany (“Premier”) to Dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 9(b),12(b)(1), and 12(b)(6). For the following reasons, the Motion is granted.
I.FACTUAL BACKGROUND
According to the Complaint, Plaintiff Medical Products Laboratories, Inc. (“MPL”) is acontract manufacturing company with expertise in research and development, manufacturing, packaging, and testing of quality medical products. (Compl. ¶ 8.) Defendant Premier is adistributor of various medical products, including dental products. (Id. ¶ 9.) On September 16,1975, MPL and Premier entered into an agreement regarding the use of trademarks for productsdeveloped either by MPL or by MPL and Premier jointly and marketed by Premier (the“Trademark Agreement”). (Id. ¶ 10.) The Trademark Agreement provided that “[a]ll current andfuture trademarks put into interstate commerce by Premier Dental Products Company coveringmerchandise made for their distribution by Medical Products Laboratories are jointly owned byMedical Products Laboratories and Premier Dental Products Company.” (Id. ¶ 11.) With the
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exception of some minor and immaterial modifications, this Agreement remains in full force andeffect. (Id. ¶ 12.)In 2003, MPL began developing and manufacturing a topical prophylaxis paste called“Enamel Pro.” (Id. ¶ 13.) Enamel Pro is a 1.23% Fluoride prophylaxis paste with amorphouscalcium phosphate (ACP). (Id. ¶ 14.) MPL distributed Enamel Pro through Premier. (Id. ¶ 15.)On July 6, 2004, Premier filed an application for a trademark on the use of the mark “Enamel Pro.”(Id. ¶ 16.) The application was approved and Trademark Reg. No. 3,118,123 was entered on the principal Register on July 18, 2006 (the “2006 Trademark”). (Id. ¶ 17.) Premier is listed on theRegister as the sole owner of the 2006 Trademark, while MPL is not included as an owner of the2006 Trademark on any official document. (Id. ¶¶ 18–19.) On July 13, 2012, Premier filed a JointAffidavit of Use and Incontestability, as required by 15 U.S.C. § 1058, asserting that the 2006Trademark was still in commerce and re-listing Premier as the sole owner (the “2012 Affidavit”).(Id. ¶ 20.)On October 12, 2006, Premier filed another application for a trademark on the use of themark “Enamel Pro.” (Id. ¶ 21.) This application was approved and Trademark Reg. 3,382,472entered on the Principal Register on February 12, 2008 (the “2008 Trademark”). (Id. ¶ 22.) Aswith the 2006 Trademark, Premier is the sole owner of the 2008 Trademark listed on the Register.(Id. ¶ 23.)MPL initiated the present litigation on October 23, 2012, setting forth three causes of action: (1) false and fraudulent registration of the 2006 Trademark pursuant to § 38 of the LanhamAct, 15 U.S.C. § 1120; (2) false and fraudulent registration of the 2008 Trademark pursuant to §38 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1120; and (3) breach of contract with respect to both2
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Trademarks. The essence of these claims is that Premier filed trademark applications for the twoEnamel Pro Trademarks that did not identify MPL as a joint owner of the marks. Such actions,according to Plaintiff, were not only false and fraudulent for purposes of the Lanham Act, but also breached the 1975 Agreement between the parties. (Id. ¶¶ 25–43.) Premier filed the currentMotion to Dismiss on December 14, 2012. MPL responded on December 28, 2012, and Premier filed a Reply Brief on January 14, 2012. This Motion is now ripe for judicial consideration.Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff has not stated a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed. R.Civ. P.12(b)(6); see also Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d 744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). In Bell Atl.Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), the United States Supreme Court recognized that “a plaintiff’s obligation to provide the ‘grounds’ of his ‘entitle[ment] to relief’ requires more thanlabels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do.”Id. at 555. Following these basic dictates, the Supreme Court, in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662(2009), subsequently defined a two-pronged approach to a court’s review of a motion to dismiss.“First, the tenet that a court must accept as true all of the allegations contained in a complaint isinapplicable to legal conclusions. Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action,supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.” Id. at 678. Thus, although “Rule 8marks a notable and generous departure from the hyper-technical, code-pleading regime of a prior era . . . it does not unlock the doors of discovery for a plaintiff armed with nothing more thanconclusions.” Id. at 678–79. Second, the Supreme Court emphasized that “only a complaint thatstates a plausible claim for relief survives a motion to dismiss.” Id. at 679. “Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief will, as the Court of Appeals observed, be a context-3
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