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Luminara Worldwide, LLC v. Liown Electronics Co. Ltd.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 6, 2017

Luminara Worldwide, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
Liown Electronics Co. Ltd., Shenzhen Liown Electronics Co. Ltd., Liown Technologies/Beauty Electronics, LLC, Boston Warehouse Trading Corp., Abbott of England 1981, Ltd., BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc., Von Maur, Inc., Zulily, Inc., Smart Candle, LLC, Tuesday Morning Corp., Ambient Lighting, Inc., The Light Garden, Inc., and Central Garden & Pet Co., Defendants. Shenzhen Liown Electronics Co. Ltd. and Central Garden & Pet Co., Counterclaim Plaintiffs,
v.
Luminara Worldwide, LLC, QVC, Inc., Darice, Inc., Bed Bath & Beyond, Inc., Williams-Sonoma Stores, Inc., PC Treasures, Inc., and Brookstone Stores, Inc., Counterclaim Defendants.

          Joseph W. Anthony, Steven M. Pincus, Courtland C. Merrill, Cory D. Olson, Steven C. Kerbaugh, and Daniel R. Hall, Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie PA, Jon E. Wright, Sterne Kessler Goldstein & Fox, Ryan S. Dean, Fish & Tsang LLP, for Plaintiff and Counterclaim Defendant Luminara Worldwide, LLC.

          Alan G. Carlson, Tara C. Norgard, Jonathan D. Carpenter, and Peter M. Kohlhepp, Carlson, Caspers, Vandenburgh, Lindquist & Schuman, P.A., Thomas N. Millikan, Joseph P. Reid, Kenneth J. Halpern, Yun Louise Lu, and Patrick J. McKeever, Perkins Coie LLP, for Defendants and Counterclaim Plaintiffs Liown Electronics Co. Ltd., Liown Technologies/Beauty Electronics, LLC, Shenzhen Liown Electronics Co. Ltd., Boston Warehouse Trading Corp., Abbott of England (1981), Ltd., BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc., Von Maur, Inc., Zulily, Inc., Smart Candle, LLC, Tuesday Morning Corp., The Light Garden, Inc., and Central Garden & Pet Co.

          ON DEFENDANT ABBOTT OF ENGLAND (1981), LTD.'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Abbott of England's Motion for Summary Judgment of Noninfringement [Doc. No. 460]. For the reasons set forth below, Abbott's Motion for Summary Judgment is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Facts

         Abbott of England (“Abbott”) is a Canadian company, located in Canada, which wholesales a variety of home décor products. (Decl. of Jody Abbott (“Abbott Decl.”) at ¶¶ 2-3 [Doc. No. 463].) Abbott sells exclusively to third-party retailers, not individual consumers. (Id. at ¶ 4.) In August of 2011, Abbott began selling a line of flameless candles (“Reallite”) manufactured by Defendant Liown that Plaintiff Luminara Worldwide (“Luminara”)[1] alleges infringe on its United States patents. (See id. at ¶ 5.) However, it was not until February 21, 2012, when Abbott received a cease and desist letter from Luminara, that Abbott became aware of Luminara's patents and its infringement claims. (Id. at ¶ 6; Abbott Decl., Ex. A (“Cease and Desist Ltr.”) at 02773- 74[2] [Doc. No. 463-1].) Important here is the fact that Abbott only sells Reallite candles to retailers in Canada and the United Kingdom (U.K.), not the United States. (Abbott Decl. at ¶¶ 7-8.) Abbott contends that United States patent law does not prohibit it from continuing to sell Reallite candles to Canadian and U.K. retailers and thus they did not stop selling the Reallite product after receiving Luminara's cease and desist letter. (See Abbott Decl., Ex. B at 02775-76 [Doc. No. 463-1].)

         B. Procedural History

         Luminara sued Abbott for direct infringement and inducing infringement. (See Third Amended Compl., Count I [Doc. No. 131].) However, Luminara subsequently abandoned its direct infringement claim. (See Luminara's Opp. to Abbott's Mot. (“Mem. in Opp.”) at 2, 5 n.1 [Doc. No. 525].) Abbott now moves for summary judgment on the inducement claim because it alleges there is no evidence that it performed an inducing act with the requisite intent, or that a relevant third-party directly infringed on Luminara's patents. (See Abbott's Mem. of Law in Supp. of its Mot. (“Mem. in Supp.”) at 12-13 [Doc. No. 462]; Abbott's Reply Mem. of Law in Supp. (“Reply”) at 2-4 [Doc. No. 537].) Luminara opposes Abbott's motion and offers three pieces of evidence it alleges support its inducement claim: (1) Abbott's website, which supposedly “directs consumers to locate United States retailers that sell the Reallite candles[, ]” (2) a Facebook post by Abbott in response to an inquiry about the availability of Reallite candles in the United States, and (3) the purchase of a Reallite candle by a Luminara employee from one of Abbott's third-party Canadian retailers. (See Mem. in Opp. at 3-4.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is proper if, drawing all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party, there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986); Morriss v. BNSF Ry. Co., 817 F.3d 1104, 1107 (8th Cir. 2016), cert. denied, (U.S. Oct. 3, 2016). “Summary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed ‘to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.'” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 327 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 1).

         The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of showing that the material facts in the case are undisputed. Id. at 323. However, a party opposing summary judgment “‘may not rest upon the mere allegation or denials of his pleading, but ... must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial, ' and ‘must present affirmative evidence in order to defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment.'” Ingrassia v. Schafer, 825 F.3d 891, 896 (8th Cir. 2016) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 256-57). “[T]he nonmoving party must ‘do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts.'” Conseco Life Ins. Co. v. Williams, 620 F.3d 902, 910 (8th Cir. 2010) (quoting Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986)). Summary judgment is proper where the non-moving party fails “‘to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case . . . .'” Walz v. Ameriprise Fin., Inc., 779 F.3d 842, 844 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322). While the moving party bears the burden of showing that the facts are undisputed, a judge is not confined to considering only the materials cited by the parties, and “it may consider other materials in the record.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(3).

         Two other legal principles are important to the present matter. First, “only evidence that would be admissible at trial may be relied upon to counter a motion for summary judgment.” Sokol & Associates, Inc. v. Techsonic Indus., Inc., 495 F.3d 605, 611 n.4 (8th Cir. 2007). Statements containing double hearsay are not admissible evidence and may not be relied upon. See Ward v. Int'l Paper Co., 509 F.3d 457, 462 (8th Cir. 2007); McKay v. U.S. Dep't of Transp., 340 F.3d 695, 699 n.2 (8th Cir. 2003); Erickson v. Farmland Indus., Inc., 271 F.3d 718, 728 (8th Cir. 2001). Second, attorney statements and argument in briefing are not evidence and cannot create issues of ...


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