Lyda v. CBS Corp., No. 15-1923 (Fed. Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Lyda’s patents describe “obtaining real time responses to remote programming” by “allow[ing] persons viewing or listening to a broadcast to respond to the broadcast in real time without requiring a personal computer.” Lyda sued CBS for infringement in connection with the television show “Big Brother.” Lyda alleged that audience members could influence the show by voting using cell phone text messages. The complaint alleged that CBS engaged an independent contractor to test the system and that the independent contractor used unnamed third parties to perform the voting. The district court dismissed, finding that the allegations implicated a theory of joint infringement and that Form 18, the Federal Rules’ standard for specificity in pleading direct infringement, does not apply to joint infringement claims. The court stated that “Plaintiff’s allegations are simply too vague, even under the Form 18 standard, to articulate a claim for relief.” The Federal Circuit affirmed, applying the “Twombly/Iqbal” standard, which requires pleading facts sufficient to allow a reasonable inference that all steps of the claimed method are performed and either one party exercises the requisite “direction or control” over the others’ performance or the actors form a joint enterprise such that performance of every step is attributable to the controlling party.