Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Sonos Inc. v. D&M Holdings Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

January 12, 2017

SONOS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
D&M HOLDINGS, INC. d/b/a THE D GROUP, D&M HOLDINGS U.S. INC., and DENON ELECTRONICS USA, LLC, Defendant.

          Phillip A. Rovner, Esq., POTTER ANDERSON & CORROON LLP, Wilmington, DE; Jonathan A. Choa, Esq., POTTER ANDERSON & CORROON LLP, Wilmington, DE; George I. Lee, Esq., LEE SULLIVAN SHEA & SMITH, LLP, Chicago, IL; Sean M. Sullivan, Esq., LEE SULLIVAN SHEA & SMITH, LLP, Chicago, IL; Rory P. Shea, Esq. (argued), LEE SULLIVAN SHEA & SMITH, LLP, Chicago, IL; J. Dan Smith, Esq., LEE SULLIVAN SHEA & SMITH, LLP, Chicago, IL; Michael P. Boyea, Esq., LEE SULLIVAN SHEA & SMITH, LLP, Chicago, IL. Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Jack B. Blumenfeld, Esq., MORRIS NICHOLS ARSHT & TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington, DE; Michael J. Flynn, Esq., MORRIS NICHOLS ARSHT & TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington, DE; John M. Jackson, Esq. (argued), JACKSON WALKER LLP, Dallas, TX; Matthew C. Acosta, Esq. (argued), JACKSON WALKER LLP, Dallas, TX; Blake T. Dietrich, Esq., JACKSON WALKER LLP, Dallas, TX; David Folsom, Esq., JACKSON WALKER LLP, Texarkana, TX. Attorneys for Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before the Court is the issue of claim construction of multiple terms in U.S. Patent Nos. 7, 571, 014 ("the '014 Patent"), 8, 588, 949 ("the '949 Patent"), 8, 843, 224 ("the '224 Patent"), 8, 938, 312 ("the '312 Patent"), 8, 938, 637 ("the '637 Patent"), 9, 042, 556 ("the '556 Patent"), 9, 195, 258 ("the '258 Patent"), 9, 202, 509 ("the '509 Patent"), 9, 213, 357 ("the '357 Patent"), 9, 219, 959 ("the '959 Patent"), and D559, 197 ("the '197 Patent"). The Court has considered the Parties' Joint Claim Construction Brief. (D.I. 201). The Court heard oral argument on December 14, 2016. (D.I. 206) ("Hr'g Tr.").

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed these actions on October 21, 2014, alleging infringement of four patents. (D.I. 1). Plaintiff subsequently amended its complaint (D.I. 6, 31, 102) to assert a total of twelve patents. The parties stipulated to dismissal of one asserted patent with prejudice on August 25, 2016. (D.I. 150). The remaining patents-in-suit claim devices and methods for controlling audio devices. One of the asserted patents, the '197 Patent, is a design patent with a single claim for a control strip. The only claim of the '197 patent was rejected after completion of an ex parte reexamination on June 29, 2016. (D.I. 208).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         "It is a bedrock principle of patent law that the claims of a patent define the invention to which the patentee is entitled the right to exclude." Phillips v. AWHCorp., 415 F.3d 1303, 1312 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc) (internal quotation marks omitted). '"[T]here is no magic formula or catechism for conducting claim construction.' Instead, the court is free to attach the appropriate weight to appropriate sources 'in light of the statutes and policies that inform patent law.'" SoftView LLC v. Apple Inc., 2013 WL 4758195, at *1 (D. Del. Sept. 4, 2013) (quoting Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1324) (alteration in original). When construing patent claims, a court considers the literal language of the claim, the patent specification, and the prosecution history. Marhnan v. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 977-80 (Fed. Cir. 1995) (en banc), aff'd, 517 U.S. 370 (1996). Of these sources, "the specification is always highly relevant to the claim construction analysis. Usually, it is dispositive; it is the single best guide to the meaning of a disputed term." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1315 (internal quotation marks omitted).

         "[T]he words of a claim are generally given their ordinary and customary meaning.... [Which is] the meaning that the term would have to a person of ordinary skill in the art in question at the time of the invention, i.e., as of the effective filing date of the patent application." Id. at 1312-13 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). "[T]he ordinary meaning of a claim term is its meaning to [an] ordinary artisan after reading the entire patent." Id. at 1321 (internal quotation marks omitted). "In some cases, the ordinary meaning of claim language as understood by a person of skill in the art may be readily apparent even to lay judges, and claim construction in such cases involves little more than the application of the widely accepted meaning of commonly understood words." Id. at 1314.

         When a court relies solely upon the intrinsic evidence-the patent claims, the specification, and the prosecution history-the court's construction is a determination of law. See Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., 135 S.Ct. 831, 841 (2015). The court may also make factual findings based upon consideration of extrinsic evidence, which "consists of all evidence external to the patent and prosecution history, including expert and inventor testimony, dictionaries, and learned treatises." Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1317-19 (internal quotation marks omitted). Extrinsic evidence may assist the court in understanding the underlying technology, the meaning of terms to one skilled in the art, and how the invention works. Id. Extrinsic evidence, however, is less reliable and less useful in claim construction than the patent and its prosecution history. Id.

         "A claim construction is persuasive, not because it follows a certain rule, but because it defines terms in the context of the whole patent." Renishaw PLC v. Marposs Societa 'per Azioni, 158 F.3d 1243, 1250 (Fed. Cir. 1998). It follows that "a claim interpretation that would exclude the inventor's device is rarely the correct interpretation." Osram GMBH v. Int'l Trade Comm'«, 505 F.3d 1351, 1358 (Fed. Cir. 2007) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         III. CONSTRUCTION OF DISPUTED TERMS

         A. The Patents-In-Suit

         The '014 patent is directed to a method and apparatus for controlling multimedia players in a multi-zone system. Claim 1 is representative and reads as follows:

A method for controlling a plurality of players, the method comprising:
displaying on a screen a first list showing at least available players;
displaying, when at least one of the players is selected as a zone group head, on the screen a second list showing at least some of the players that are eligible to be grouped with the zone group head;
forming a zone group started with the zone group head, after one or more players from the at least some of the players are selected to join the zone group; and
synchronizing all players in the zone group;
adjusting a volume meter represented by an averaged value of audio volumes of the players in the group, wherein said adjusting of the volume meter includes changing a volume of each of the group of players synchronously in accordance with an adjustment made by a user.

('014 patent, claim 1) (disputed terms italicized).

         The '949 patent is directed to a method and apparatus for adjusting volume levels in a multi-zone system. Claim 1 is representative and reads as follows:

A multimedia controller including a processor, the controller configured to:
provide a user interface for a player group, wherein the player group includes a plurality of players in a local area network, and wherein each player is an independent playback device configured to playback a multimedia output from a multimedia source;
accept via the user interface an input to facilitate formation of the player group, wherein the input to facilitate formation of the player group indicates that at least two of the plurality of players in the local area network are to be included in the player group;
for each of the plurality of players within the player group, accept via the user interface an input to adjust a volume associated with the player, wherein the input to adjust the volume associated with the player causes the corresponding independent playback device to adjust its volume; and
accept via the user interface an input to adjust a volume associated with the player group, wherein the input to adjust the volume associated with the group causes the corresponding independent playback devices in the player group to adjust their volumes.

('949 patent, claim 1) (disputed terms italicized).

         The '224 patent is directed to a method and system for controlling amplifiers. Claim 1 is representative and reads as follows:

A method for controlling an audio amplifier, the method comprising:
receiving, by a network interface, a data packet over a network;
determining by a control module whether the received data packet either consists of non-audio data or comprises audio data; and
responsively powering on the audio amplifier from a powered off state when the data packet is determined to comprise audio data; and
maintaining the audio amplifier in the powered off state when the data packet is determined to consist of non-audio data.

('224 patent, claim 1) (disputed terms italicized).

         The '312 patent is directed to technology for smart line-in processing in an audio environment. Claim 1 is representative and reads as follows:

A playback device comprising:
a line-in connector for receiving a first audio signal;
a network interface; a processor; and a non-transitory computer readable storage medium having stored therein instructions executable by the processor to:
determine whether the first audio signal is present at the line-in connector;
in response to determining that the first audio signal is present at the line-in connector, (i) cease playback of a second audio signal being played by the playback device, wherein the second audio signal is not present at the line-in connector, and (ii) cause the playback device to play the first audio signal;
receive, via the network interface, a first instruction to stop the playback device from playing the first audio signal while the first audio signal is still present at the line-in connector;
determine that the first audio signal is no longer present at the line-in connector; and
in response to determining that the first audio signal is no longer present at the line-in connector, arm the playback device such that a subsequent presence of the first audio signal at the line-in connector causes the playback device to play the first audio signal.

('312 patent, claim 1) (disputed terms italicized).

         The '637 patent is directed to systems and methods for synchronizing operations among independently clocked devices. Claim 1 is representative and reads as follows:

A digital data processing device comprising:
an interface to receive multimedia information arranged as a plurality of frames, each frame to include one or more samples and an indication of when to play ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.