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TheConfusingandOftenContradictoryWorldofPleadingDefensesand

CounterclaimsinPatentCases
ByConradGosenandTashaFrancis,Ph.D.

Defendantsseekingtopleadaffirmativedefensesandcounterclaimsinpatentcasesfacea
confusingworldofinconsistentpleadingstandardsandcontradictoryapplicationsofthosestandards.
CourtsgenerallyagreethatthestandardssetforthinTwombly1andIqbal2applytocounterclaimsby
infringementdefendants,buttheapplicationoftheTwombly/Iqbalstandardtocounterclaimsvaries
widelyfromcourttocourt.Thereislessclarityregardingwhichpleadingstandardsshouldapplyto
affirmativedefenses.Districtcourtsacrossthecountryhaveadoptedseveraldifferent(andoften
conflicting)standardsandrulesfordeterminingthesufficiencyofsuchpleadings.Furthermore,evenin
situationswherecourtspurporttouseasimilarstandardforpleadingaffirmativedefenses,the
applicationofthesestandardsremainsverycourtdeterminative.
Thesituationfacedbydefendantsismarkedlydifferentthanthatofpatentplaintiffs.
Defendantsusuallymustasserttheirdefensesandcounterclaimswithin21daysofbeingservedwitha
complaint3,andthesepleadingsareoftenheldtotheplausiblefactualallegationstandardofTwombly
andIqbal.Bycontrast,theFederalCircuithasclearlyestablishedthatpatentplaintiffsdonotneedto
meettheTwombly/Iqbalstandardforpleadingpatentinfringement.4Instead,plaintiffsneedonly
providetheinformationspecifiedinForm18oftheAppendixtotheFederalRulesofCivilProcedure
(FRCP),whichrequireslessinformation.5Recentpatentreformbillshaveaddressedpleadingstandards
inpatentcases,butsucheffortshavefocusedonraisingthestandardsforplaintiffs,ratherthan
clarifyingthestandardsforaccusedinfringers.

BellAtl.Corp.v.Twombly,127S.Ct.1955,1964(2007).
Ashcroftv.Iqbal,129S.Ct.1937,1941(2009).
3
Fed.R.Civ.P.12.Though,defendantsoftenobtainextensions.
4
InreBillofLadingTransmission&ProcessingSys.PatentLitig.,681F.3d1323,1334(Fed.Cir.2012).
5
Form18appliestoapleadingfordirectinfringement.
2

Copyright 2015. Conrad Gosen and Tasha Francis, Ph.D.

First published 06/25/15 IPO Law Journal

Thus,giventhelackofanyforthcomingguidanceontheissuesofpleadingaffirmativedefenses
andcounterclaims,uponbeingservedwithacomplaintforpatentinfringement,whatisanaccused
infringertodo?Thisarticleprovidesanoverviewofthecurrentlawofpleadingrequirementsinpatent
casesandcontainsrecommendationsforpractitionersfacedwiththeseissues.
I.

Background

Rule8oftheFRCPgovernsthepleadingstandardsinFederalCases.Rule8(a)(2)statesthata
complaintmustcontainashortandplainstatementoftheclaimshowingthatthepleaderisentitledto
relief.6TheSupremeCourthasexaminedandclarifiedthestandardsetforthinRule8(a)(2)inTwombly
andIqbal.TheCourtclarifiedtheproperapplicationofRule8,statingthatacomplainantmustplead
factsthatplausiblygiverisetoanentitlementtorelief.7Inotherwords,acomplainantmustdomore
thanprovidemereconclusoryallegations.
Rule8(c)governsthestandardsforpleadingaffirmativedefensesandspecifiesthat[i]n
respondingtoapleading,apartymustaffirmativelystateanyavoidanceoraffirmativedefense.8The
SupremeCourtsTwomblyandIqbaldecisionsdidnotaddressRule8(c).However,othercourtshave
recognizedthatRule8(c)setsalowerstandardthanthatofTwomblyandIqbal.Forexample,inTyco
FireProds.LPv.VictaulicCo.,777F.Supp.2d893,900(E.D.Pa.2011),thejudgereasonedthatinlightof
thedifferencesbetweenRules8(a)and8(c),TwomblyandIqbaldonotapplytoaffirmativedefenses.As
such,theCourtconcluded[a]naffirmativedefenseneednotbeplausibletosurvive;itmustmerely
providefairnoticeoftheissueinvolved.9Similarly,inaDistrictofNevadacase,theCourt(citingTyco)
cametotheconclusionthataffirmativedefensesneednotcontainfactsmakingthedefenseplausible,
asunderIqbal....10

Fed.R.Civ.P.8(a)(2).
Iqbal,129S.Ct.1941.
8
Fed.R.Civ.P.8(c).
9
Id.
10
RockwellAutomation,Inc.v.BeckhoffAutomation,LLC,23F.Supp.3d1236,124142(D.Nev.2014).
7

TheTwomblyandIqbaldecisionsledtoconfusioninpatentcasesbecauseRule84oftheFederal
RulesofCivilProcedurestatesthattheformsintheAppendixsufficeundertheserulesandillustrate
thesimplicityandbrevitythattheserulescontemplate.11OneoftheForms,Form18,containsan
exampleofaComplaintforPatentInfringement.AsdescribedbytheFederalCircuit,Form18
requires:
(1)anallegationofjurisdiction;(2)astatementthattheplaintiffownsthepatent;(3)a
statementthatdefendanthasbeeninfringingthepatentbymaking,selling,andusing
[the device] embodying the patent; (4) a statement that the plaintiff has given the
defendantnoticeofitsinfringement;and(5)ademandforaninjunctionanddamages.12
SeveralpartiesallegedthattheinformationcontainedinForm18wouldbeinsufficienttostate
aplausibleclaimundertheTwombly/Iqbalstandard.Inresponse,theFederalCircuitheldthatthe
informationspecifiedinForm18issufficienttostateaclaimforpatentinfringementinacomplaint,
evenifitmaynotmeetTwombly/Iqbal.13TheFederalCircuithasexplainedthatForm18andthe
FederalRulesofCivilProceduredonotrequireaplaintifftopleadfactsestablishingthateachelementof
anassertedclaimismet.Indeed,aplaintiffneednotevenidentifywhichclaimsitassertsarebeing
infringed.14
Form18governspleadingstandardsforpatentcomplaints,butdoesnotgovernthestandards
forpleadingaffirmativedefensesorcounterclaimsbroughtinresponsetoacomplaint.Districtcourts
forthemostpartagreethattheTwombly/Iqbalstandardgovernscounterclaims.However,thereis
disagreement,evenbetweenjudgesinthesameDistrict,astothelevelofspecificityrequiredtomeet
thestandardofTwombly/Iqbalincounterclaims(particularlyforcounterclaimsofnoninfringementor

11

Fed.R.Civ.P.84.
SeeInreBillofLadingTransmission&ProcessingSys.PatentLitig.,681F.3d1323(Fed.Cir.2012).
13
Id.1334(Accordingly,totheextentthepartiesarguethatTwomblyanditsprogenyconflictwiththeForms...,
theFormscontrol...Thus,whetherR+Lsamendedcomplaintsadequatelypleaddirectinfringementistobe
measuredbythespecificityrequiredbyForm18.).
14
Id.at1335.
12

invalidity).15Thereisevenlessagreementastothepleadingstandardthatappliestoaffirmative
defenses.JudgesintheNorthernDistrictofCalifornia,SouthernDistrictofTexas,andNorthernDistrict
ofIllinoishaveheldthattheTwombly/Iqbalstandardappliestoaffirmativedefenses.16Bycontrast,
judgesintheEasternDistrictofPennsylvania,DistrictofNevada,andDistrictofArizonahaveheldthat
theTwombly/Iqbalstandarddoesnotapplytoaffirmativedefenses.17
II.

AConfusingLandscape

Accusedinfringersgenerallyhave21daystoanalyzeandpleadanycounterclaims.Additionally,
discoveryhasnotbegunandtheaccusedinfringermayhavelittleinformationregardingtheclaimsthey
maywanttoassert.Furthermore,theaccusedinfringermustalsoanalyzeanddecideonanyaffirmative
defensestheywishtoplead.Confrontedwiththesetimepressures,accusedinfringersmustalsodeal
withanunsettledlegallandscapegoverningthesepleadings.
A. PleadingCounterclaims
DistrictcourtshavegenerallyagreedthattheTwombly/Iqbalstandardappliesto
counterclaims.18Incomingtothisconclusion,CourtshavepointedtotheexpresslanguageofRule
8(a)(2)andthefactthatcounterclaimsarethemselvescomplaints.However,theapplicationofthe
Twombly/Iqbalstandardtocounterclaimsparticularlydeclaratoryjudgmentcounterclaimsfor
noninfringementorinvalidityvarieswidely.

15
CompareCryoLife,Inc.v.C.R.Bard,Inc.,2015WL1069397,*4(D.Del.Mar.10,2015)(findingarelativelybare
bonescounterclaimsufficientlyplead)withEMCCorp.v.Zerto,Inc.,2014WL3809365,*1*2(D.Del.July31,2014)
(findingrelativelybarebonespleadinginsufficientlyplead).
16
See,e.g.,BlackBerryLimitedv.TypoProductsLLC,2014WL1867009,*5(N.D.Cal.May8,2014);Oleksyv.
GeneralElec.Co.,2013WL3233259,*17*18(N.D.Ill.June26,2013);Moodyv.AquaLeisureIntern.,2011WL
2604840,*2*3(S.D.Tex.Jun.30,2011).
17
See,e.g.,TycoFireProds.LPv.VictaulicCo.,777F.Supp.2d893,900(E.D.Penn.2011);RockwellAutomation,
Inc.23F.Supp.3dat124142;VercoDecking,Inc.v.ConsolidatedSystems,Inc.,2013WL6844106,*4*5(D.Ariz.
Dec.23,2013).
18
ButseeElanPharm.Int'lLtd.v.LupinLtd.,2010WL1372316,at*5(D.N.J.Mar.31,2010);Teirsteinv.AGAMed.
Corp.,2009WL704138,at*5(E.D.Tex.Mar.16,2009);MicrosoftCorp.v.PhoenixSolutions,Inc.,741F.Supp.2d
1156,1159(C.D.Cal.2010);Pfizer,Inc.v.Apotex,Inc.,726F.Supp.2d921,93738(N.D.Ill.2010).

Forexample,inSenju19,JudgeRobinsonintheDistrictofDelawareexplainedthatthe
Twombly/IqbalstandardshouldapplytocounterclaimseventhoughForm18requiresalowerstandard
forplaintiffs.JudgeRobinsonexplained,that
theDistrictofDelawarehasnotadoptedanylocalpatentrulesregardingthepleading
standard for invalidity counterclaims or requiring that factual contentions be served
promptlyafteracounterclaimofinvalidityisadvanced.Moreover,Form18stillrequires
that some factual underpinning be presented, a factual underpinning absent from
Apotex'spleading.Mostsignificantly,thefactthatForm18(ratherthanTwomblyand
Iqbal)remainsthestandardforpleadinginfringementclaimsisaninsufficientjustification
fordeviatingfromTwomblyandIqbalforpleadingothercausesofaction.20

OtherjudgeshavecometosimilarconclusionsandheldTwombly/Iqbaltoapplyto
counterclaimsofnoninfringementorinvalidity.21
However,despitegeneralagreementthatTwombly/Iqbalappliestocounterclaims,courtsvary
intheirapplicationofthestandardtocounterclaims.Somecourtshavefoundbarebonespleadings
sufficient,evenundertheTwombly/Iqbalstandard,whileothershavenot.
InCryoLife22,forexample,theCourtfoundCryoLifesrelativelybarebonespleadingsofinvalidity
andnoninfringementmettheTwombly/Iqbalstandard.Initscounterclaimofinvalidity,CryoLifesimply
statedtheclaimswereinvalidforfailuretocomplywithoneormoreoftheconditionsforpatentability
setforthinTitle35oftheUnitedStatesCode,including,butnotlimitedto,35U.S.C.102and/or
103.23CryoLifeidentifiedthreepiecesofpriorarttosupportits102/103invaliditychallengeand
providednofurthercommentary.Basedonthissimplepleading,theCourtconcludedCryoLife
sufficientlypleadedinvalidity.Similarly,inassertingacounterclaimofnoninfringement,theCourt
foundCryoLifespleadingthat[t]heuse,offerforsale,and/orsaleofCryoLife'sPerClotproductshas

19

SenjuPharm.Co.,Ltd.v.Apotex,Inc.,921F.Supp.2d297,30203(D.Del.2013).
Id.
21
See,e.g.,DeerpointGroup,Inc.v.AcquaConcepts,Inc.,2014WL7178210,*4*5(E.D.Cal.Dec.16,2014);Wi3,
Inc.v.ActiontecElectronics,Inc.,2014WL6627582,*2*4(W.D.N.Y.Nov.21,2014);FitnessAnywhereLLCv.Woss
EnterprisesLLC,2014WL4802432,*2*3(N.D.Cal.Sept.26,2014).
22
CryoLife,Inc.,2015WL1069397at*4.
23
Id.
20

notinfringed,doesnotinfringe,andwouldnot,whenmarketedandsold,directlyorindirectlyinfringe
anyvalidclaimofthe'461patent,eitherliterallyorunderthedoctrineofequivalentssufficientwhen
supplementedbyCryoLife'sstatementthattheproductsbehaveinuselikethepriorartwhichwas
arguedbythepatenteetobefundamentallydifferentduringprosecution.24
Similarly,inFitnessAnywhere25,theCourtfoundDefendantssimpleallegationthatthe
AssertedPatentsareinvalidforfailingtocomplywiththespecificstatutorysubpartsof101,102,103
and/or112sufficientwhere(1)Defendantdidnotassertallgroundsofinvalidityandunenforceability
underthePatentActand(2)Defendantexplainedthesegroundsofinvalidityindetailintheir
affirmativedefenses.26
Bycontrast,othercourtshavedismissedmoredetailedpleadingsasinsufficientunder
Twombly/Iqbal.Forexample,inBecoDairyAutomation,Inc.27,theCourtdismissedBecos
counterclaimsalleginginvalidityunderfourseparatestatutes,eventhoughBecoscounterclaimsset
forthnumerousandindependentgroundsforinvalidatingpatentclaims(e.g.,priorpublicuse,prior
offertosell,priorprintedpublication,abandonment,andothers).28TheCourtfoundthecounterclaims
voidoffactualunderpinningsandheldthatbecauseBecofailedtoidentifyfactsnecessarytosustain
recoveryundersomeviablelegaltheory,itsclaimswerenotplausible.29
Toconfoundmattersevenfurther,insomeinstances,courtshavefoundthatbarebones
counterclaimsareinsufficientevenunderalowerversionofTwombly/Iqbal.Forexample,inEMCCorp.
v.Zerto,Inc.30,theDistrictofDelawareheldthatcounterclaimsofinvaliditydonotneeddetailed

24

Id.
FitnessAnywhereLLC,2014WL4802432.
26
Id.*2.
27
BecoDairyAutomation,Inc.v.GlobalTechSys.,Inc.,2015WL925588(E.D.Cal.Mar.3,2015).
28
Id.*9.
29
Id.*4.
30
EMCCorp.2014WL3809365.
25

factualallegationstosatisfyTwombly/Iqbal.31Nonetheless,theCourtfoundthatZertoscounterclaims
ofinvalidity,whichrecited:[o]neormoreclaims...isinvalidforfailuretocomplywiththeconditions
forpatentabilityspecifiedbyTitle35oftheUnitedStatesCode,includingwithoutlimitation35U.S.C.
101,102,103and112lackedsufficientfactualmattertosatisfythepleadingstandardsofRule8.32The
Courtfoundthesebareboneslegalconclusionsdevoidofanysupportingfactualallegations.33
However,totheextentthatcourtshavefoundcounterclaimpleadingsinsufficientforfailureto
meetTwombly/Iqbal,theygenerallyhavegrantedleavetoamend.34
B. PleadingAffirmativeDefenses
Unlikecounterclaims,wherethereexistsageneralconsensusofwhatstandardapplies,thereis
cleardisagreementastowhethertheTwombly/Iqbalstandardappliestopleadingaffirmativedefenses.
TheNorthernDistrictofCaliforniaandtheNorthernDistrictofIllinoishaveheldthatthe
pleadingstandardofTwombly/Iqbalapplies.Incomingtothisconclusion,courtshavereliedonthe
similaritybetweenaffirmativedefensepleadingsandcounterclaimpleadings,particularlyfor
noninfringementandinvaliditydefenses.Courtshavealsopointedtothepresenceorlackoflocal
patentruleswhichwouldrequireotherdisclosuresofthebasisforinvalidityornoninfringement
positions.
Forexample,intheNorthernDistrictofIllinois,inOleksyv.Gen.Elec.Co.,theCourtexplained
itsreasonforapplyingtheTwombly/Iqbalstandardtoaffirmativedefenses.35Inthiscase,GEasserted
theaffirmativedefensethatthepatenttheywereaccusedofinfringingwasinvalidbasedonprioruse.
GEalsoassertedacounterclaimforadeclaratoryjudgmentthatthepatentwasinvalidbasedonprior
usebasedlargelyonthesamefacts.TheCourtnotedthisactionwasillustrativeofpotentialproblems

31

Id.*2.
Id.
33
Id.
34
Seee.g.,EMCCorp.,2014WL3809365,at*4(grantingleavetoamend);BecoDairyAutomation,Inc.2015WL
925588,at*4;GELightingSolutions,LLCv.LightsofAm.,Inc.,2013WL1874855,at*1(N.D.OhioMay3,2013).
35
Oleksyv.Gen.Elec.Co.,2013WL3233259,at*17(N.D.Ill.June26,2013).
32

thatwouldresultifdifferentpleadingstandardsforcounterclaimsandaffirmativedefenseswere
adopted.36TheCourtnotedthatifdifferentstandardswereapplied,itwouldthenberequiredto
reviewthesamefactualallegationsundertwodifferentstandardsandcouldpotentiallyreacharesult
whereitfoundtheaffirmativedefensesweresufficientlypledbutthecounterclaimwasnotdespitethe
facttheyreliedontheexactsamefactualallegations.37Refusingtoadoptarulethatwouldleadto
suchresults,theCourtheldthataffirmativedefensesmustcomplywiththepleadingrequirementsset
forthinTwombly.However,inviewoflocalrulesthatrequiredcontentiondisclosures,theCourt
acknowledgeditmustbecognizanttonotprematurelystrikeinvalidityaffirmativedefensesforfailing
tosetforththenecessarydetailrequiredbyTwombly.38
Similarly,courtsintheNorthernDistrictofCaliforniahavealsoconcludedthatTwombly/Iqbal
appliestoaffirmativedefenses.Forexample,inBlackberryLimited,39theCourtheldthataffirmative
defensepleadingsshouldrequiresomevalidfactualbasisbeyondsomeconjecturethat[thedefense]
maysomehowapply.40TheCourtseemedparticularlywillingtostrikeclaimsthatrecitedconclusory
catchalllanguage,statingthat[a]pplyingthesamestandard[tocounterclaimsanddefenses]willalso
servetoweedouttheboilerplatelistingofaffirmativedefenseswhichiscommonplaceinmost
defendants'pleadingswheremanyofthedefensesallegedareirrelevanttotheclaimsasserted.41The
CourtwentontostrikeseveralaffirmativedefenseswhichtheCourtconcludedlackedanyfactsand
therefore[were]insufficientlypleaded.42
Othercourtshavecometotheoppositeconclusion.Forexample,courtsintheDistrictof
Nevada,EasternDistrictofPennsylvania,NorthernDistrictofOhio,andDistrictofArizonahave

36

Id.
Id.
38
Id.*18.
39
BlackBerryLimited,2014WL1867009.
40
Id.*5(citationomitted).
41
Id.(citationomitted).
42
Id.(emphasisinoriginal).
37

concludedthatTwombly/Iqbaldoesnotapplytoaffirmativedefenses.43Thesecourtshaveoftenrelied
onadistinctionbetweenRule8(a)(2)whichrequiresashowingversusRule8(c)whichrequiresa
statement.
InGELightingSolutions44,ajudgeintheNorthernDistrictofOhioheldthatwhileTwombly/Iqbal
appliedtocounterclaims,thejudgewouldnotapplythesamestandardtosimilarlypleadedaffirmative
defenses.Incomingtoitsconclusion,theCourtreliedonSixthCircuitprecedentthattheFederalRules
requirealowerstandardforpleadingdefenses,andheldthatanaffirmativedefensemaybepleadedin
generaltermssolongasitgivestheplaintifffairnoticeofthenatureofthedefense.45TheCourt
recognizedthatthiswouldapplytwodifferentstandardstosimilarlanguage,notingthataninvalidity
counterclaimassertedwithoutanyfactualsupportwillbedismissedunder12(b)(6)whileanidentically
wordedaffirmativedefensewillnot.46TheCourtconcludedthateventhoughDefendantsaffirmative
defenseslackfactualcontenttheyweresufficientundertheRules.47
Similarly,inVercoDecking48,ajudgeintheDistrictofArizonaconcludedthatTwombly/Iqbaldid
notapplytopleadingaffirmativedefensesandbaseditsholdingonthelanguageofRule8.Specifically,
theCourt,citingRule8,explainedthattheonlypleadingrequirementforanaffirmativedefense,as
opposedtoadefenseoraclaim,isthatapartymustaffirmativelystateit.49TheCourtspecifically
statedthatsuchdefensesneedonlycomplywithnoticepleadingrequirements.50TheCourtalso
declinedtoreadtherequirementsofRule8(a)(2)intoRule8(c).Basedontheseconclusions,theCourt
didnotstriketheDefendantsaffirmativedefenses.

43

E.g.,RockwellAutomation,Inc.,23F.Supp.3dat124142;VercoDecking,Inc.,2013WL6844106at*4*5;GE
LightingSolutions,LLC,2013WL1874855at*3*4;Tyco,777FSupp.2dat896,903.
44
GELightingSolutions,LLC,2013WL1874855.
45
Id.*4(citationsomitted).
46
Id.
47
Id.
48
VercoDecking,Inc.,2013WL6844106.
49
Id.*5.
50
Id.

However,evenwhenanaccusedinfringercanidentifythestandardlikelytobeappliedbya
particulardistrictcourtjudgemuchaswithcounterclaims,therearewidediscrepanciesinthe
sufficiencyofanaffirmativedefensepleading,undereithertheTwombly/Iqbalstandardorthelower
noticepleadingstandardofRule8(c).

Forexample,inTyco,theCourtheldthatanaffirmativedefensewhichallegedonlythatthe

patentwasinvalidand/orunenforceableforfailuretocomplywiththeconditionsofpatentability
specifiedinTitle35oftheUnitedStatesCode,including,withoutlimitation,atleast101,102,103
and112wassufficientlypleadedunderthelowerstandardsofRule8(c).51Bycontrast,theCourtin
RockwellAutomation,applyingthesamestandard,heldthatapleadingwhichstated[t]heasserted
claimsofthepatentsinsuitareinvalidforfailingtocomplywiththerequirementsofthepatentlawsof
theUnitedStates,35U.S.C.1etseq.,including,butnotlimitedto,101,102,103,and/or112was
insufficientlypleaded.52Similarly,theCourtinFlemingheldthatapleadingwhichstated[t]he038
patentandthe653patentandthe905patentareinvalidforfailuretocomplywiththerequirementsof
Title35,UnitedStatesCode,includingbutnotlimitedtoSections102103,112,and/or251was
insufficientunderanystandard.53

Againhowever,aswithcounterclaims,courtshavegenerallyshownwillingnesstograntleaveto

amendinsufficientlypleadedaffirmativedefenses.
C. NoEndinSight
Theredoesnotappeartobeanimminentsolutiontothismorass.Asofthispublication,the
FederalCircuithasnottakenuptheseissues,andtheauthorsarenotawareofanypendingcircuit
decisionsonpoint.Additionally,whilepleadingstandardshavebeenacentralissueinmultiplepatent

51

Tyco,777FSupp.2dat896,903.
RockwellAutomation,23F.Supp.3dat1248.However,eventhoughtheCourtfoundthepleadinginsufficient
undertherules,theCourtdidnotdismissorstriketheclaiminviewofthepartiesimpendingdisclosureof
infringementandinvaliditycontentionsundertheLocalRules,whichwouldmoottheissue.
53
Flemingv.Escort,Inc.,2013WL870632,*4(D.IdahoMar.6,2013).
52

reformbills,thesebillsexclusivelydealwitheffortstoincreasethepleadingrequirementsforplaintiffs
alleginginfringementtoahigherstandardthanForm18.Notablyabsentfromanyproposedpatent
reformbillsisanydiscussionofpleadingstandardsforaffirmativedefensesorcounterclaims.
Forexample,boththeInnovationActof2013andtheProtectingAmericanTalentand
EntrepreneurshipActof2015(thePATENTAct)includeprovisionsrelatingtopleadingstandardsin
patentcases.Bothpiecesoflegislationproposeraisingthestandardforpleadingpatentinfringementin
acomplaint,ratherthanlowering(orevenclarifying)thestandardfordefendantscounterclaimsand
defenses.Thus,whiletheproposedlegislationmayputthepartiestoapatentlawsuitonamoreeven
footinginregardstothecorrectstandardforpleadingclaims(albeitnotaffirmativedefenses),itis
unclearwhatameliorativeeffect,ifany,thiswouldhaveontheconfusingandoverlappingapplications
ofthosestandardstopatentcounterclaims,letaloneaffirmativedefenses.
III.

WhatDoesthisMeanforPractitioners?

Giventhelackanyforthcomingguidanceorclarityonthisissue,uponbeingservedwitha

complaintforpatentinfringement,whatisanaccusedinfringertodowhenputtingtogethertheir
defensecase?

Thefirstthingtodoisdecidewhatpossibleaffirmativedefensesandcounterclaimsyoumay

wanttoassert.Next,whatisclearfromareviewofthisissueisthatifyouareconsideringeitherorboth
oftheseoptions,youmustfirstidentifythecurrentpatentlandscapeinyourdistrict.Specifically,you
shoulddeterminewhetherornotyourdistricthaslocalpatentrulesthatmayshedlightonthepleading
standards(oranylaterfilingsthatwouldrelatetoit).Thenextstepistodeterminewhatlegalstandard
courtsinyourdistrict,oryourjudge,haveappliedinpreviouscases.Asdiscussedabove,whatis
sufficientunderTwomblyandIqbalinonejurisdictionmaynotevenmeetthelowerstandardofRule
8(c)inanother.Withthisinformationinhand,thenyoucanbegindevelopingyouraffirmativedefenses
andcounterclaimstrategy.

Inthecontextofcounterclaims,youcanexpectthatTwombly/Iqbalwillapply.Inthecontextof

affirmativedefenses,theexactstandardwillvarybyjudgeordistrict.Totheextentyouwishtoplead
bothanaffirmativedefenseandcounterclaimusingthesamefacts(e.g.,invalidityornoninfringement),
youshouldbeawarethatadifferentstandardmayapplytoeachofthem.Thesafestthingtodoisto
draftbothyouraffirmativedefensesandcounterclaimstomeettheTwombly/Iqbalstandardtothe
extentpossible.However,althoughthestandardsvary,courtshaveshownanincreasedwillingnessto
dismissclaimsthatmerelycontainboilerplatelanguageunderanyofthestandards.
Additionally,inadistrictthatrequiresrelativelyspecificpleadings,youmayoptnottoinclude
weakerdefensesorcounterclaimswherelessfactualinformationisavailabletoyouatthetimeandyou
donotexpecttodevelopadditionalfactswithinareasonabletimeframe.Finally,giventhisunsettled
landscape,ifyouarefacedwithamotiontodismiss,besuretorequestleavetoamend,andatalltimes
afterfilingtheanswer,continueyourfactualinvestigationsothatyouwouldbeapositiontoamendthe
pleadingsinameaningfulway.

ConradGosenandTashaFrancis,Ph.D.areattorneysintheTwinCitiesofficeofFish&Richardson.
Theycanbereachedatgosen@fr.comandtasha.francis@fr.com.