In Bot M8 LLC v. Sony Corporation of America, [2020-2218] (July 13, 2021), the Federal Circuit found no error in the district court’s “directing” Bot M8 to file a first amended complaint, or in dismissing Bot M8’s claims of infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 8,078,540 and 8,095,990 for failure to state a plausible claim of infringement. However, the Federal Circuit held that the district court erred in finding Bot M8’s allegations as to U.S. Patent Nos. 7,664,988 and 8,112,670 were insufficient. The Federal Circuit found that the district court acted within its discretion in denying Bot M8’s motion to file a second amended complaint, as well as the subsequent order denying leave to move for reconsideration. Finally the Federal Circuit affirmed the granting summary judgment as to the invalidity of the U.S. Patent No. 7,338,363 under 35 USC 101. The asserted patents all relate to gaming machines and are directed to casino, arcade, and video games generally.
To survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), the Federal Circuit said a complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. The district court instructed counsel for Bot M8 that it must explain in the complaint every element of every claim that you say is infringed and/or explain why it can’t be done. The Federal Circuit disagreed with the district court’s approach and reiterate that a plaintiff need not ‘prove its case at the pleading stage. The Federal Circuit said a plaintiff is not required to plead infringement on an element-by-element basis. Instead, it is enough that a complaint place the alleged infringer on notice of what activity is being accused of infringement.
The relevant inquiry under Iqbal/Twombly is whether the factual allegations in the complaint are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a plausible claim for relief. The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully. In other words, a plausible claim must do more than merely allege entitlement to relief; it must support the grounds for that entitlement with sufficient factual content.
The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court that Bot M8’s allegations as to the ’540 and ’990 patents were conclusory and at times contradictory, but found that the court erred in dismissing the allegations as to the ’988 and ’670 patents. With respect to the ’988 and ’670 patents, the court simply required too much.
With respect to the ‘363 Patent, and Federal Circuit agreed that the claims recite the abstract idea of increasing or decreasing the risk-to-reward ratio, or more broadly the difficulty, of a multiplayer game based upon previous aggregate results. The Federal Circuit further found that the claims leave open how to accomplish this, and the specification provides hardly any more direction. The district court said, and the Federal CIrcuit further found that the claim merely recites result-oriented uses of conventional computer devices and that, at bottom, nei-ther the patent specification, patent owner, or patent owner’s experts articulate a technological problem solved by the ’363 patent.” After careful consideration, the Federal Circuit discerned no error in the district court’s § 101 analysis, and found no need to discuss that analysis in any detail.