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Steuben Foods, Inc v. Oystar Group

May 14, 2012

STEUBEN FOODS, INC., PLAINTIFF,
v.
OYSTAR GROUP, OYSTAR NORTH AMERICAN-EDISON, INC., OYSTAR HAMBA, OYSTAR USA INC., HAMBA FILLTEC GMBH & CO.KG, GTP COMPANIES, LTD., AND KAN-PAK, LLC, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny Chief Judge United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff commenced this action in September 2010 seeking damages and injunctive relief for Defendants' alleged violation of six patents held by Plaintiff regarding equipment and processes for the aseptic bottling and packaging of food and drink products. Defendant Kan-Pak, LLC ("Kan-Pak") moves this Court to dismiss the complaint as against it pursuant to sections 12(b)(2), (3) and (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that follow, Kan-Pak's motion is denied in its entirety.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff originally commenced this action against Defendant Oystar USA, Inc. in September 2010. (Compl., Docket No. 1.) Plaintiff filed amended complaints in August 2011, May 2012, and January 2013, adding as Defendants the Oystar Group, Oystar North America-Edison, Inc., Oystar Hamba, and Hamba Filltec GMBH & CO.KG to Defendant Oystar U.S.A. (collectively "the Oystar Defendants"), as well as Defendants GTP Companies, Ltd. ("GTP") and Kan-Pak LLC. (Am. Compl., Docket No. 23; Second Am. Compl., Docket No. 48; Third Am. Compl., Docket No. 63.) In the Third Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that it is the exclusive owner of six valid and subsisting patents for processes and apparatuses related to aseptic bottling of aseptically sterilized foodstuffs. (Third Am. Compl. ¶¶ 75-93.) Four causes of action are asserted: (1) the Oystar Defendants and GTP have infringed and are continuing to directly infringe one or more of Plaintiff's patents, and are also liable for contributory infringement and inducing infringement; (2) Kan-Pak has infringed and is directly infringing one or more of Plaintiff's patents; (3) Plaintiff is entitled to injunctive relief to prevent the further infringement by the Oystar Defendants and GTP; and (4) Plaintiff is entitled to injunctive relief to prevent the further infringement of Kan-Pak.

The Oystar Defendants previously moved for dismissal of the complaint as against them for lack of personal jurisdiction and failure to state a claim in September 2011, (Docket No. 24), and GTP followed suit with a similar motion in December of that year. (Docket No. 37.) Both motions were denied in their entirety by order of this Court dated May 21, 2012. (Docket No. 47.) Presently before the Court is Defendant Kan-Pak's motion to dismiss or, alternatively, sever the claims asserted against it and transfer the matter to the District of Kansas. (Docket No. 71.)

III. DISCUSSION

A. Motion to Dismiss

Kan-Pak contends that the complaint must be dismissed as against it because: (1) the Court lacks personal jurisdiction over it; (2) Kansas is the only proper venue under both the general federal venue statute and the patent venue statute; and (3) Plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts in the Third Amended Complaint to state a claim against Kan-Pak. The Court has considered these arguments and finds each to be without merit.

1. Personal Jurisdiction Generally, "[w]hen deciding issues in a patent case, a district court applies the law of the circuit in which it sits to nonpatent issues and the law of the Federal Circuit to issues of substantive patent law." Paone v. Microsoft Corp., 881 F. Supp. 2d 386, 393-94 (E.D.N.Y. 2012); see Invitrogen Corp. v. Biocrest Mfg. L.P., 424 F.3d 1374, 1378-79 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (Federal Circuit law applies to "issues of substantive patent law and certain procedural issues pertaining to patent law"). With respect to personal jurisdiction:

A United States district court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant if the defendant "is subject to the jurisdiction of a court of general jurisdiction in the state where the district court is located." Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(k)(1)(A). The district court's exercise of jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant must be consistent with both the forum state's long-arm statute and the requirements of due process.

Radio Sys. Corp. v. Accession, Inc., 638 F.3d 785, 788-89 (Fed. Cir. 2011). The Federal Circuit will "defer to the interpretation of a state's long-arm statute given by that state's highest court, particularly whether or not the statute is intended to reach the limit of federal due process." Touchcom, Inc. v. Bereskin & Parr, 574 F.3d 1403, 1409 (Fed Cir. 2009). Federal Circuit law, rather than regional circuit law, however, applies to issues of compliance with federal due process. Id. at 1409-10; see generally JetBlue Airways Corp. v. Helferich Patent Licensing, LLC, -- F. Supp. 2d --, 2013 WL 713929, *4 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 28, 2013) (test for personal jurisdiction in Federal Circuit mirrors the test employed by the Second Circuit).

Further, where, as here, the district court relies solely on the pleadings and supporting affidavits, the burden on a plaintiff facing a motion to dismiss is to establish only a prima facie showing of personal jurisdiction. Touchcom, Inc., 574 F.3d at 1410; see Robinson v. Overseas Military Sales Corp., 21 F.3d 502, 507 (2d Cir. 1994). In determining whether that burden has been met, all allegations in the complaint are accepted as true and all factual conflicts are resolved in the plaintiff's favor. Touchcom, Inc., 574 F.3d at 1410; Robinson, 21 F.3d at 507.

There are two types of personal jurisdiction that may be applied: "general or all-purpose jurisdiction, and specific or case-linked jurisdiction." Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 131 S. Ct. 2846, 2851, 180 L. Ed. 2d 796 (2011); AFTG-TG, LLC v. Nuvoton Tech. Corp., 689 F.3d 1358, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2012). A court may assert general jurisdiction over a foreign corporation to hear any claim against it where the corporation's affiliations with the state are "so continuous and systematic as to render them essentially at home in the forum [s]tate." Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, 131 S. Ct. 2846, 2851(internal quotation marks omitted). Specific jurisdiction exists where there is a link between the forum and the underlying controversy. Id. Here, Plaintiff contends that Kan-Pak consented to the general jurisdiction of New York courts under N.Y. CPLR ยง 301 by registering to do business in this state. (Pl's ...


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