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Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

November 17, 2014

HARD 2 FIND ACCESSORIES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
AMAZON.COM, INC., a Delaware corporation; and APPLE, INC., a California corporation, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT APPLE'S MOTION TO DISMISS

RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Apple, Inc's ("Apple") Motion to Dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Dkt. #26. Defendant argues that Plaintiff's Complaint should be dismissed because it fails to allege facts sufficient to support any of the alleged causes of action against it. Defendant further argues that all causes of action against it are foreclosed by the Noerr-Pennington doctrine. Id. Plaintiff, Hard 2 Find Accessories, Inc. ("H2F"), responds that it has pled sufficient facts to meet the appropriate notice pleading standard, and that Apple cannot rely on the Noerr-Pennington doctrine in this case, and requests that the Court deny Defendant's motion. Dkt. #29. For the reasons set forth below, the Court disagrees with Plaintiff and GRANTS Defendant's motion to dismiss.

II. BACKGROUND

The relevant background of this matter has been previously set forth in this Court's Order granting Amazon's motion to dismiss, and is incorporated by reference herein. Dkt. #32.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact must be accepted as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). However, the court is not required to accept as true a "legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). The Complaint "must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Id. at 678. This requirement is met when the plaintiff "pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Absent facial plausibility, Plaintiff's claims must be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

The Court generally may not consider material beyond the pleadings in ruling on a motion to dismiss. Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 688 (9th Cir. 2001). However, where documents are referenced extensively in the Complaint, form the basis of Plaintiff's claim, or are subject to judicial notice, the Court may consider those documents in the context of a motion to dismiss. United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908-09 (9th Cir. 2003). The Court may take judicial notice of facts not reasonably subject to dispute because they are generally known within the trial court's territorial jurisdiction or can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned. FRE 201(b).

Apple has requested that the Court take judicial notice of five exhibits. Dkt. #27. Plaintiff does not appear to object to this Court taking notice of three Trademark registrations. See Dkts. #27, Exs. 3-5 and #30. Accordingly, the Court has taken judicial notice of and considers herein those registrations. However, Plaintiff does object to this Court taking notice of two archived web pages, asserting that they are inherently unreliable and in dispute. See Dkts. #27, Ex. 1 and 2 and #30. The Court does not rely on those web pages in its decision in this case, and therefore declines to take judicial notice thereof.

B. Plaintiff's Complaint

Plaintiff has alleged five causes of action against Apple, including: violations of state and federal anti-trust statutes (Dkt. #1 at ¶¶ 97-109); tortious interference with business/contractual expectancy (Dkt. #1 at ¶¶ 117-125); unjust enrichment (Dkt. #1 at ¶¶ 149-151); violation of Washington's Consumer Protection Act ("CPA") (Dkt. #1 at 152-158); and defamation (Dkt. #1 at ¶¶ 159-167). The Court finds that Apple is immune from suit on all of these claims.

1. Noerr-Pennington Doctrine

Plaintiff's claims against Apple are predicated on a single infringement notice that Apple sent to Amazon in June of 2013. See Dkt. #1. Apple asserts immunity as to this notice under a doctrine first recognized in two antitrust cases, E. R.R. Presidents Conference v. Noerr Motor Freight, Inc., 365 U.S. 127, 81 S.Ct. 523, 5 L.Ed.2d 464 (1961), and United Mine Workers v. Pennington, 381 U.S. 657, 85 S.Ct. 1585, 14 L.Ed.2d 626 (1965), which is now generally known as the Noerr-Penington doctrine. Although the immunity recognized in these two suits was premised on both the Sherman Act and the First Amendment right to petition, Cardtoons, L. C. v. Major League Baseball Players Ass'n, 208 F.3d 885, 890 (10th Cir. 2000), subsequent cases have also applied the doctrine outside of the antitrust context. See Theme Promotions, Inc. v. News Am. Mktg. FSI, 546 F.3d 991, 1007 (9th Cir. 2008) (holding "that the Noerr-Pennington doctrine applies to Theme's state law tortious interference with prospective ...


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