United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
J. McAuliffe United States District Judge.
Emseal Joint Systems, Ltd., filed suit against Shul
International Co., Steven R. Robinson, Brian J. Iske,
Willseal, LLC, and Ion Management, LLC, asserting claims for
patent infringement, violation of the New Hampshire Consumer
Protection Act/Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices
(“CPA”), and unjust enrichment. Defendants have
moved for judgment on the pleadings on plaintiff's unjust
enrichment claim. Robinson and Iske have moved for judgment
on plaintiff's Consumer Protection Act claim. Both
motions are granted.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides that, “[a]fter
the pleadings are closed but within such time as not to delay
the trial, any party may move for judgment on the
pleadings.” “The standard of review of a motion
for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(c) is the same as that for a motion to dismiss
under Rule 12(b)(6).” Marrero-Gutierrez v.
Molina, 491 F.3d 1, 5 (1st Cir. 2007) (citations
omitted). Accordingly, “[t]he court accepts the
plaintiff's well-pleaded facts as true and draws all
reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor.”
Holder v. Town of Newton, No. 09-CV-341-JD, 2010 WL
3211068, at *1 (D.N.H. Aug. 11, 2010) (citing Citibank
Global Mkts., Inc. v. Santana, 573 F.3d 17, 23 (1st Cir.
survive defendants' motion, each count of plaintiff's
complaint must allege all of the essential elements of a
viable cause of action and “contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citation and internal punctuation
omitted). Judgment on the pleadings will be entered
“only if the uncontested and properly considered facts
conclusively establish the movant's entitlement to a
favorable judgment.” Aponte-Torres v. Univ. of
P.R., 445 F.3d 50, 54 (1st Cir. 2006).
alleged in its complaint, Emseal is the sole owner of the
following patents: U.S. Patent No. 8, 739,
495B1 issued by the United State Patent and
Trademark Office (“USPTO”) on June 3, 2014; U.S.
Patent No. 9, 528, 262B2, issued by the USPTO on December 27,
2016 (“the ‘262 patent”); U.S. Patent No.
9, 644, 368B1, issued by the USPTO on May 9, 2017 (“the
‘368 patent”); U.S. Patent No. 9, 670, 666B1,
issued by the USPTO on June 6, 2017 (“the ‘666
patent”); and U.S. Patent No. 9, 637, 915B1, issued by
the USPTO on May 2, 2017 (“the ‘915
patent”) (collectively, the “Patents in
Suit”). All of the Patents in Suit are entitled
“Fire and Water Resistant Expansion Joint
System.” According to plaintiffs, several of
defendants' products infringe one or more claims of the
Patents in Suit, and, defendants manufacture and sell, or
cause others to manufacture and sell, those infringing
products without a license.
alleges that defendants do minimal research and development
of their own; copy plaintiff's test regime, and its
patented products and methods; and maintain minimal support
infrastructure. As a result, says plaintiff, Defendants are
able to price their infringing products unfairly, thus
“creat[ing] or maintain[ing] a monopoly and/or
harm[ing] competition.” Compl. ¶ 23. Plaintiff
further alleges that defendants make disparaging and
misleading statements to potential purchasers of Emseal
patented products, which tarnishes plaintiff's reputation
and impacts plaintiff's ability to leverage its patents.
Finally, plaintiff contends that defendants provide inferior
support infrastructure, which harms the entire fire seal
make two arguments in support of their position that the
court should enter judgment on plaintiff's unjust
enrichment claim. First, defendants contend that, because
plaintiffs have not alleged a quasi-contractual relationship
between them, unjust enrichment is not applicable. Second,
defendants assert that plaintiff's unjust enrichment
claim is either barred by Patent Act preemption, or is
covered by a New Hampshire statutory cause of action.
correctly point out that plaintiff's unjust enrichment
claim simply re-pleads its patent infringement and CPA
claims, adding only an allegation that defendants unjustly
benefited from their purported misdeeds. In support of its
unjust enrichment claim, plaintiff incorporates by reference
its earlier allegations, and alleges that defendants, as a
result of the alleged conduct, “will unjustly benefit
from and be unjustly enriched by, their own intentional and
wrongful acts.” Compl. ¶ 42.
New Hampshire law, “[u]njust enrichment is an equitable
remedy that is available when an individual receives a
benefit which would be unconscionable for him to
retain.” Axenics, Inc. v. Turner Constr. Co.,
164 N.H. 659, 669, 62 A.3d 754 (2013) (internal quotation
marks and emphasis omitted). Plaintiff does not explicitly
allege a benefit received by defendants in its complaint, nor
does plaintiff address that point in its briefing. However,
plaintiff's theory seems to be that, by copying
Emseal's patented products, methods, and test regimes,
defendants benefited by saving money they otherwise would
have had to spend on research and development. And, as a
result of those savings, defendants have been able to price
their competing (and infringing) products lower than
Emseal's products, thereby presumably benefitting by
selling more products.
plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim, as pled, is
preempted. “[F]ederal patent law preempts any state law
that purports to define rights based on inventorship.”
Univ. of Colo. Found. v. Am. Cyanamid Co., 196 F.3d
1366, 1372 ...