Pleading Intent to Deceive in False Marking: How much is enough?

Written by Scott Daniels (partner in Westerman Hattori Daniels & Adrian and Practice Center Contributor).

It is undisputed that a qui tam claim for false patent marking under 35 U.S.C. § 292 requires, in addition to marking an unpatented article, that the marking be done with intent to deceive the publicForest Group, Inc. v. Bon Tool Co., 590 F.3d 1295, 1300 (Fed. Cir. 2009).  But how specifically must the qui tam plaintiff plead “intent to deceive” to comply with the Rule 9(b) requirement that allegations of fraud be made with particularity?  Unfortunately, the CAFC declined to answer that question in Stauffer v. Brooks Brothers, Inc., decided last month.  Without guidance from the CAFC, the answer appears to depend upon the court in which the complaint is filed.

At the more lenient end of the spectrum is Judge Robert W. Gettleman who in Simonian v. Oreck, Case No. 1:10-cv-01224 (N.D. Ill, August 23, 2010) denied the Defendant Oreck’s motion under Rule 12(b)(6) to dismiss because of the failure of the complaint to make more than a general allegation of deceptive intent. Judge Gettleman applied the who-how-what-when-where standard that has been used by a number of courts.  He concluded that Plaintiff Simonian’s complaint adequately stated that Oreck (the who) had deliberately falsely marked (the how), the particular product (the what), the marking was current (the when), within the District and throughout the United States (the where).  He also found that the allegations, despite their generality, created a presumption: “By alleging that defendants had knowledge of their false marking and that the marks were false creates a rebuttable presumption of deceptive intent.” (more…)

Baker & Daniels on the Ring Plus v. Cingular Wireless Federal Circuit Decision

Baker & DanielsTrevor Carter, a Practice Center Contributor, recently passed along this article that he co-authored with colleague Andrew McCoy on the August 6th Federal Circuit decision, Ring Plus, Inc. v. Cingular Wireless Corp., 09-1537.

In Ring Plus, Inc. v. Cingular Wireless Corp., No. 2009-1537 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 6, 2010), the Federal Circuit reversed a final judgment of inequitable conduct and found that the prosecuting attorney of U.S. Patent No. 7,006,608 (“the ‘608 Patent”) did not intend to deceive the PTO.

While we do not believe this article is biased, we note that we are counsel in a pending Federal Circuit appeal involving inequitable conduct.  See, Joovy LLC v. Target Corp., No. 2010-1323 (Fed. Cir.)  We represent Target and were successful in obtaining a final judgment of unenforceability due to inequitable conduct at the district court. (more…)

False Marking: A Patent Litigator’s Perspective


I recently read that on the heels of the Forest Group Inc. v. Bon Tool Co.,  decision more  than 100 plaintiffs have filed false marking suits in 2010.  I’m sure that is a scary statistic to the dozens of companies that are potentially facing false marking suits.  I had an opportunity to discuss the issue of false marking with two of our Patent Center Contributors, Brandon Baum, a partner and intellectual property litigator at Mayor Brown LLP and Robert C. Faber, partner and patent prosecutor at Ostrolenk Faber LLP.  While some of their viewpoints are similar, Baum and Faber both have a unique perspective on the topic.

Here is what Brandon Baum, the “patent litigator” , has to say on the issue…

Me: Do you think we’ll see companies begin to stop falsely marketing products in response to the suits? 

BB:  Yes, though the question presumes that companies are “falsely” marking (i.e., with intent to deceive) rather than inaccurately marking (i.e., without intent to deceive).  It will become a priority for companies’legal departments to monitor patent marking and, particularly with respect to expired patents, remove them from packaging. 

Me: Do you believe false marking necessarily causes injury?

BB:  As a general proposition, I think we would all agree that one should not mark a product as being covered by a patent when one knows it is not. I believe that Congress could reasonably believe that false marking causes injury, just like any other sort of false labeling of a product.  (more…)

Solo Cup Decision: False Marking Requires Proof Of Intent to Deceive


I recently read that more than 100 plaintiffs have filed false marking suits in 2010, on the heels of the Forest Group Inc. v. Bon Tool Co. decision.  In that case, the Federal Circuit interpreted the language in the false marking statute to mean that penalties for false marking must be calculated on the basis of each article marked with an incorrect patent number for the purpose of deceiving the public, rather than on the basis of each decision to mark any number of articles.  In a nutshell, the decision had the potential of a penalty increase from $500 per offense to $500 per article marked.

While the Forest Group case left unresolved issues regarding false marking, the Federal Circuit did answer some of the open questions in last weeks Pequignot v. Solo Cup Co. decision,  No. 2009-1547, slip op. (Fed. Cir. June 10, 2010) .

Jeanne M. Gills (Contributor on the Practice Center) and George C. Best, both partners with Foley & Lardner, LLP, published an article in their firm’s newsletter analyzing the Solo Cup decision.  In the article called “False Marking Liability Requires Proof Of An Intent To Deceive Public” Gills and Best write “While this decision provides additional guidance for companies on how to avoid false marking liability, including what evidence may be sufficient to rebut the presumption of an intent to deceive, it does leave open questions to be resolved by future decisions or legislative action.” (more…)