Mixed Dismissal Ruling Issued in Uber Patent Infringement Dispute

An opinion by a federal court in Waco, Texas handed LBT IP II LLC (LBT) a partial victory in its patent infringement suit for direct, joint, and induced infringement against defendant Uber Technologies Inc. According to the 13-page dismissal decision, the suit concerns four patents directed to GPS location and monitoring technology allegedly infringed by Uber through its eponymous ride-hailing application.

Judge Alan D. Albright recounted that LBT sued Uber in November 2021. In its bid to dismiss the complaint, Uber offered up multiple defenses, including that the complaint failed to meet the minimum pleading requirements and that LBT’s direct infringement claims did not sufficiently indicate how the four patents are infringed.

Judge Albright concluded that LBT’s direct and joint infringement claims were viable. However, and “in accordance with the Court’s usual practice,” Judge Alright dismissed LBT’s pre-suit inducement claim with leave to amend that claim after the commencement of fact discovery.

First considering the direct infringement claims, the opinion said that LBT’s allegations allowed the court to draw a reasonable inference of Uber’s liability. The opinion noted that at the dismissal phase the analytical goal is not to assess a cause of action’s likelihood of success, but rather, whether it is legally cognizable.

In the case of one patent and claim, Judge Albright wrote that the complaint’s language “suggests how Uber triangulates location information,” which he found sufficiently aligned with the language from the asserted claim to survive dismissal.

The court set forth the disjunctive standard for joint infringement claims, writing that such allegations must permit a reasonable inference that all steps of the claimed method are performed and “either (1) one party exercises the requisite ‘direction or control’ over the others’ performance or (2) the actors form a joint enterprise such that performance of every step is attributable to the controlling party.”

LBT’s assertion that Uber operates and controls its rider and driver applications sufficed, the court said. Specifically, the opinion pointed to contentions stating that Uber’s mobile application, which must be installed on a mobile computing device, allow the company to control how its riders and drivers use the infringing steps of the methods for ride-hailing.

LBT is represented by Alston & Bird LLP and Uber by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.