United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' PARTIAL MOTION TO
DISMISS PLAINTIFFS' SECOND AMENDED COMPLAINT [DOC.
HONORABLE VICTORIA A. ROBERTS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
August 2015, Plaintiffs General Motors LLC and GM Global
Technology Operations LLC (“Plaintiffs” or
“GM”) filed suit against Defendants Dorman
Products Inc. (“Dorman”) and Electronics
Remanufacturing Company LLC (“ERC”; collectively
“Defendants”), alleging copyright infringement
under the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101 et seq., and
unlawful circumvention under the Digital Millennium Copyright
Act, 17 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.
September 2016, this Court granted in part Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint because
the complaint did not meet Rule 12(b)(6)'s plausibility
standards. The Court also granted Plaintiffs an opportunity
to cure the deficiencies. Plaintiffs submitted a Second
Amended Complaint in October, adding two more counts (trade
secret misappropriation and unlawful trafficking under the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act).
filed another Motion to Dismiss, currently before this Court,
seeking to dismiss Count I (copyright infringement) with
respect to four out of Plaintiffs' five copyrighted
works, and Count II (illegal circumvention of security
measures) in its entirety.
Partial Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Second Amended
Complaint (ECF No. 20) is DENIED.
purposes of a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, “the complaint is
viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the
allegations in the complaint are accepted as true, and all
reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the
plaintiff.” See Bassett v. Nat'l Collegiate
Athletic Ass'n, 528 F.3d 426, 430 (6th Cir. 2008).
Plaintiffs, automobile manufacturers, have registered valid
copyrights in the software and computer files which run on
the control modules installed in their vehicles, and allege
that Defendants are illegally stealing and reselling this
software. (Plaintiffs include copies of five of their
copyright registrations as an exhibit with their complaint;
it may be considered as part of the pleading for purposes of
a motion to dismiss. See Commercial Money Ctr., Inc. v.
Illinois Union Ins. Co., 508 F.3d 327, 335 (6th Cir.
2007) (“documents attached to the pleadings become part
of the pleadings and may be considered on a motion to
alleges that Defendants Dorman and ERC worked together to
violate copyright law by: (1) illegally stealing GM's
copyrighted software; and (2) installing it into blank
control modules, and then reselling the modules to the
general public, allowing users to avoid paying GM for the
software. GM believes that Dorman purchases blank control
modules from an authorized GM distributor and then sends
these modules to ERC. Individuals associated with ERC created
accounts on websites owned by GM, which allow paid
subscribers to access GM software. ERC copies this software
from GM's websites in violation of user agreements. GM
says ERC then programs Dorman's modules with unauthorized
and infringing copies of GM's copyrighted software and
sends the programmed modules back to Dorman, which resells
them to the general public, advertising them as
also manufactures, advertises, and sells a product called a
“Software Transfer Tool.” GM alleges this tool
allows users to access, copy, and transfer GM's
copyrighted software to other modules, circumventing GM's
technological protection measure in violation of law.
acquired both a pre-programmed module and a Software Transfer
Tool from Dorman. By inspecting and testing the module, GM
confirmed that it contained an unauthorized copy of GM
software, covered by copyright registration number
TXu-1-917-502. By testing the Software Transfer Tool, GM
confirmed that it allows users to bypass security measures to
illegally transfer copyrighted software.
complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Defendants seek to
dismiss the majority of Count I and the entirety of Count II
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). To survive a 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss, “a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to state a claim that is plausible
on its face.” R.S. Scott Associates, Inc. v. Timm
Const. Co. LLC, 2014 WL 7184448 at *3 (E.D. Mich. 2014).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 556, 570). While the court is
required to take all factual allegations as true and view the
complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the
court does not have to accept legal conclusions as true.
Id. Legal conclusions must be backed by plausible
establish a plausible claim of copyright infringement, a
plaintiff must allege: 1) ownership of a valid copyright, and
2) copying of constituent elements of the copyrighted work
that are original. Ford Motor Company v. Autel U.S.
Inc., 2015 WL 5729067 at *3; see also Ross, Brovins
& Oehmke, P.C. v. Lexis Nexis Group,463 F.3d 478,
482, 2006 WL 2639749 (6th Cir.2006). While other courts in
this district have held that copyright infringement claims
require a heightened pleading standard under National
Business Development Services, Inc. v. American Credit
Education & Consulting, Inc., 299 F. App'x 509
(6th Cir. 2008), this Court has interpreted National
Business as consistent with the plausibility standard
set forth in Twombly ...