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Sonos, Inc. v. D&M Holdings, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

August 10, 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, Defendants.

          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. 8, 938, 637 ("the '637 Patent"), 9, 195, 258 ("the '258 Patent"), 9, 202, 509 ("the '509 Patent"), and 9, 213, 357 ("the '357 Patent). The Court has considered the Parties' Supplemental Claim Construction Briefs. (D.I. 240, 244, 252, 257).

         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, 263) 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). Plaintiff subsequently dismissed two additional patents, leaving nine patents-in-suit. (D.I. 298 at 5; D.I. 350 at 4). The remaining patents-in-suit claim devices and methods for controlling audio devices. The parties submitted a Joint Claim Construction Brief (D.I. 210) and the Court heard oral argument on December 14, 2016. (D.I. 213). In a Markman opinion issued on January 12, 2017, 1 asked the parties for supplemental briefing on four terms. (D.I. 219 at 18-19). I received the briefing (D.I. 240, 244, 252, 257), and I now construe the four terms.

         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. AWH Corp., 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. Markman v. WestviewInstruments, 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 'n, 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 '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 the one or more samples in a frame;
an information buffer to store the plurality of frames for play back by the digital data processing device,
wherein the digital data processing device is to receive clock information from a source device and determine a time differential value between the received clock information and clock information associated with the digital data processing device, the time differential value to be applied with the indication of when to play each of the plurality of frames to store an updated indication of when to play each of the plurality of frames in the information buffer; and
an output to play back one or more samples in a frame from the information buffer according to the updated indicatio ...

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