Ocean Semiconductors LLC v. Analog Devices, Inc. (D. Mass. 20-cv-12310).

  • July 2, 2024

Ocean accused Analog Devices of infringing claims 4 and 5 of its U.S. 6,836,691 patent covering systems and methods of identifying and correcting faults during chip manufacturing.  Analog Devices moved to dismiss claims relating to a system, the “Inficon FabGuard” system, that was alleged to fabricate or manufacture products that infringe two claims of Ocean’s patent.  Judge Saris noted that the complaint is not required to plead infringement on an element-by-element basis, but merely must provide notice of what activity is being accused of infringement, with the required degree of specificity to be determined on a case-by-case basis.  She noted that here, the claim chart accompanying the complaint was 100 pages long and included multiple references to the claim element that Analog Devices asserted to be insufficiently pled, and determined that nothing more was required at the pleading stage.

Judge Saris did, however, grant dismissal of the induced infringement claim for failing to plead facts sufficient to show that Analog Devices had knowledge of the patent and knowledge that the induced acts would constitute infringement, as well as the “specific intent” that infringement occur.  Noting the split in authority on the exact meaning of the “specific intent” requirement, Judge Saris sought pleadings that would show specific intent to encourage infringement, as opposed to encouraging the allegedly infringing acts without knowledge or intent that infringement occur.  She found that Ocean had not sufficiently pled the intent element with respect to the Inficon FabGuard system because it was not referenced by Ocean in its initial communications or in the original complaint (not surprising, because at that time Analog Devices had not purchased the company that made the system and was not using it at that time).  Judge Saris also determined that the third-party subpoena that Ocean had served on Inficon did not provide notice of the alleged infringement, as the subpoena contained no infringement allegations.  Finally, while Ocean ultimately filed an amended complaint with allegations against the specific product, that amended complaint was filed just four days before the Ocean patent expired.  Accordingly, Judge Saris dismissed the induced infringement claim.

Judge Saris subsequently denied Ocean leave to amend its preliminary infringement contentions.  The contentions were served more than a year prior to the motion for leave.  Ocean subsequently discovered an industry research report identifying Analog suppliers and manufacturers, after which Ocean sought to add contentions against more than sixty new systems and tools.  Judge Saris noted that infringement contentions, which are required by Local Rule 16.6(d)(1)(A), can be amended only by leave of court upon a timely showing of good cause, with the burden of showing diligence residing with the movant.  The rule is not intended to allow for liberal amendments, unlike the rule on amending pleadings.  She denied the motion with respect to certain newly accused products because the website from which Ocean “discovered” the products does not indicate in any way that the products are mode for or sold to (or through) Analog Devices, thus failed to meet the “good cause” requirement.  She denied the motion with respect to a second website (which clearly did show entities to be suppliers to Analog Devices) because that site had been publicly available for years prior to the filing of the contentions, making the motion for leave untimely.  Finally, she denied the motion to amend with respect to the Inficon FabGuard system because the website Ocean discovered new information did not mention Inficon or suggest that Analog used the Inficon system in conjunction with other systems and tools, again failing to show good cause.

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