Netflix Tells Court Inventor’s Patent Infringement Suit Must Go

A motion filed on Thursday by defendant Netflix Inc. has asked for dismissal of a Finnish inventor’s suit for patent infringement. The video streaming service and production studio asserts that Lauri Valjakka’s third bite at the apple for willful infringement fares no better than his previous two and must be dismissed for failure to show that Netflix intentionally copied his intellectual property.

The plaintiff’s operative complaint explained that the asserted patent was issued in 2013 and bears the title “Data Communications Networks, Systems, Methods and Apparatus.” It claims that Netflix’s Open Connect program and website tread on claims of the patent, which relates to “digital push distribution through P2P networks.” 

The pleading claims that Netflix has no excuse for its infringing activities. “Defendant was willfully blind by taking deliberate action to avoid learning of the notice letter delivered to Defendant’s headquarters and addressed to one of Defendant’s Chief Officers,” the complaint says.

The case, now before Judge Jon S. Tigar of the Northern District of California, was originally filed in the Western District of Texas last September. The parties jointly agreed to transfer the case after Netflix filed a motion to dismiss for improper venue.

According to Netflix, Valjakka’s allegations of willful infringement are insufficient as a matter of law. The filing specifies that “Valjakka rests these serious allegations—and the entire basis for its willful infringement claims against Netflix—on the slender reed of a single letter sent to Netflix, over eight years ago, that contains no allegation of infringement.”

Valjakka may have pleaded sufficient facts to show that its 2014 correspondence addressed to Netflix as a potential licensee provided knowledge of the patent, but importantly, not Netflix’s alleged infringement. “To be clear, the pleading contains no facts connecting that alleged knowledge of the patent to the conclusory claim that Netflix ‘knew that this conduct amounted to infringement,’” the 14-page dismissal motion says. 

The hearing is scheduled for August 25 in Oakland, Calif.

Valjakka is represented by Mahamedi IP Law LLP and Ramey LLP. Netflix is represented by Perkins Coie LLP.