The regulation agency Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has misplaced its bid to dismiss 4 of 5 counterclaims filed by the authorized know-how firm Xcential Legislative Technologies in a lawsuit over possession rights to legislation-drafting software program that every facet says was its thought.
As I reported here in November, Akin Gump sued Xcential within the District of Columbia Superior Courtroom for misappropriation of commerce secrets and techniques, breach of contract, and different causes of motion, alleging in its complaint that Xcential’s Invoice Synthesis software program, for which Xcential filed a patent software, was really invented by an Akin Gump lawyer, Louis Agnello, who’s counsel to the agency.
In November, Xcential, a 25-person authorized know-how firm in California, fought again, submitting an answer and counterclaim denying that its software program was based mostly on Agnello’s thought. On the contrary, the corporate asserted that Agnello stole its thought after it gave him an illustration of the software program in 2019.
Akin Gump filed a movement asking the court docket to dismiss Xcential’s counterclaims, arguing that they have been barred by the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, a judicially-created doctrine that grants immunity from antitrust legal guidelines for respectable petitioning conduct directed at any department of presidency.
Akin Gump argued that as a result of it has filed a Petition to Institute Derivation with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Workplace difficult Xcential’s patent software, that it’s due to this fact a protected motion of petitioning authorities for redress and they’re due to this fact immunized from civil swimsuit.
However D.C. Superior Courtroom Choose Juliet J. McKenna disagreed. In a ruling issued Feb. 15, she held that, though Xcential had not demonstrated that Akin and Agnello had instituted a sham continuing earlier than the USPTO (which might be an exception to the doctrine), the doctrine doesn’t lengthen to breach of contract claims. Additional, she stated, Xcential’s counterclaims “plausibly implicate actions outdoors of” Akin’s USPTO petition.
Thus, she let Xcential go ahead with 4 of its 5 counterclaims, alleging breach of contract based mostly on its finish person license settlement (EULA), misappropriation of commerce secrets and techniques, misappropriation of confidential info, and breach of implied contract.
Nonetheless, the decide dismissed Xcential’s declare for slander of title, which it based mostly Akin’s and Agnello’s illustration to the USPTO that Agnello invented the software program.
“Defendants declare solely that the illustration was false, not malicious, and thus fail to plead an integral part of the primary component of the declare,” the decide wrote.
The usual for surviving a movement to dismiss is comparatively low, requiring solely that the declare “contains well-pled factual allegations” and whether or not these allegations “plausibly entitle the plaintiff to aid,” Choose McKenna stated.
“The Courtroom finds that the Defendants allege ample information to state believable claims for aid in Counts 1, 2, 3, and 4 to outlive the Movement to Dismiss,” she concluded.
“The court docket has given us the inexperienced mild to maintain taking part in offense towards Akin Gump’s try to say our know-how,” stated Grant Vergottini, Xcential’s cofounder, chief govt officer, and chief technical officer, in a press release issued by the corporate.
“Rating one for ‘David’ on this David vs. Goliath battle” — a reference to a visitor put up in regards to the litigation revealed on this weblog by Mark Stodder, president of Xcential.