United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
Hand Held Products, Inc., d/b/a Honeywell Scanning & Mobility; Intermec Technologies Corporation; and Intermec IP Corporation, Plaintiffs,
The Code Corporation, Defendant.
ORDER AND OPINION
Richard Mark Gergel United States District Court Judge
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' motion to
dismiss Defendant's counterclaims and to strike in part
Defendant's affirmative defenses (Dkt No. 51). For the
reasons set forth below, the Court denies the motion.
Hand Held Products, Intermec Technologies, and Intermec IP
(collectively "Honeywell") and Defendant The Code
Corporation ("Code") compete in the 2D healthcare
barcode reader market. In the present action, Honeywell
asserts Code's CR2600 barcode reader infringes six
patents (U.S. Patent Nos. 6, 607, 128, 8.096, 472, 6, 249,
008, 6, 538, 413, 6, 039, 258, 6, 491, 223) held by
Honeywell. Code asserts that Honeywell's potential
recovery from this action is small because two of the
asserted patents expired before the filing of the complaint
(the '413 Patent and the '223 Patent), because a
third expired before Code's answer to the complaint (the
"008 Patent), because a fourth expires on July 17, 2017
(the '258 Patent), and because Code redesigned the CR2600
to distinguish it from Honeywell's '128 Patent and
'472 Patent promptly upon service of the complaint. (Dkt.
Nos. 38 ¶¶ 208-13, 52 at 4.) Honeywell's true
purpose in bringing this action, according to Code, is as a
pretense to disparage Code with false statements and to
interfere with Code's contractual relationships with its
customers, thereby driving Code from the market, (Dkt, Nos.
38 ¶¶ 214-36, 52 at 4.)
filed an amended complaint on April 14, 2017 and Code filed
an amended answer on April 27, 2017. On May 11, 2017,
Honeywell moved to dismiss Code's counterclaims and to
strike certain of Code's affirmative defenses. Honeywell
argues the amended answer fails to provide a sufficient
factual basis for those counterclaims and affirmative
Motion to Dismiss
12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the
dismissal of an action if the complaint fails "to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted." Such a motion
tests the legal sufficiency of the complaint and "does
not resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of the
claim, or the applicability of defenses. . . . Our inquiry
then is limited to whether the allegations constitute 'a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief" Republican Party of
N. C. v. Martin, 980 F.2d 943, 952 (4th Cir. 1992)
(quotation marks and citation omitted). In a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion, the Court is obligated to "assume the truth of
all facts alleged in the complaint and the existence of any
fact that can be proved, consistent with the complaint's
allegations." E. Shore Mkts., Inc. v. J.D. Assocs.
Ltd. P'ship, 213 F.3d 175, 180 (4th Cir. 2000).
However, while the Court must accept the facts in a light
most favorable to the non-moving party, it "need not
accept as true unwarranted inferences, unreasonable
conclusions, or arguments." Id.
survive a motion to dismiss, the complaint must state
"enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although the
requirement of plausibility does not impose a probability
requirement at this stage, the complaint must show more than
a "sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). A complaint has "facial plausibility"
where the pleading "allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Id.
standard for ruling on a motion to dismiss a counterclaim is
the same as the standard for ruling on a motion to dismiss a
claim. See E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon
Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011).
Motion to Strike
12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits
striking an "insufficient defense" from a pleading.
To grant a Rule 12(f) motion, the court must determine that
the challenged allegations are "so unrelated to the
plaintiffs claims as to be unworthy of any consideration as a
defense and that their presence in the pleading throughout
the proceeding will be prejudicial to the moving party."
5C Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal
Practice & Procedure § 1380 (2d ed. 1990)).
"Rule 12(f) motions are generally viewed with disfavor
'because striking a portion of a pleading is a drastic
remedy and because it is often sought by the movant simply as
a dilatory tactic.'" Waste Mgmt. Holdings, Inc.
v. Gilmore, 252 F.3d 316, 347 (4th Cir. 2001) (quoting
id.). "Traditionally, it imposes a sizable
burden on the movant, and courts typically strike defenses
only when they have no possible relation to the
controversy." Lopez v. Asmar's Mediterranean
Food, Inc., Civ. No. 1:10-1218, 2011 WL 98573, at *1
(E.D. Va. Jan. 10, 2011) (citation and internal quotation
marks omitted). "Nevertheless, a defense that might
confuse the issues in the case and would not, under the facts
alleged, constitute a valid defense to the action can and
should be deleted." Waste Mgmt. Holdings, 252
F.3d at 347 (internal quotation marks omitted).
"[W]henever granted, the defendant should generally be
given leave to amend." Palmer v. Oakland Farms,
Inc., Civ. No. 5:10-29, 2010 WL 2605179, at *2 (W.D. Va.
June 24, 2010).
Invalidity and ...