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Acceleration Bay LLC v. Activision Blizzard, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

August 29, 2017

ACCELERATION BAY LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
ACTIVISION BLIZZARD, INC. Defendant. ACCELERATION BAY LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
ELECTRONIC ARTS INC. Defendant. ACCELERATION BAY LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
TAKE-TWO INTERACTIVE SOFTWARE, INC., ROCKSTAR GAMES, INC., AND 2K SPORTS, INC. Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

         Presently before me is a Motion to Dismiss U.S. Patent Nos. 6, 701, 344 (the '"344 patent"), 6, 714, 966 (the '"966 patent"), and 6, 829, 634 (the '"634 patent") by Defendants Activision Blizzard, Inc., Electronic Arts Inc., Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., Rockstar Games, Inc., and 2K Sports, Inc. (collectively, "Defendants"). (C.A. No. 16-453, D.I. 21; C.A. No. 16-454, D.I. 22; C.A. No. 16-455, D.I. 23).[1] I have considered the parties' briefing. (D.I. 22; D.I. 28; D.I. 33). Defendants contend that all claims of the '344 and '966 patents, and claims 1-18 of the '634 patents (collectively, the "Broadcast Claims") are invalid for lack of patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. (D.I. 21). I held oral argument on July 10, 2017. (D.I. 235 ("Tr.")).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs briefing does not dispute that Claim 1 from each of the '344, '966, and '634 patents is representative. (See D.I. 28 at 9 n.4). Claim 1 of the '344 patent provides:

1. A computer network for providing a game environment for a plurality of participants, each participant having connections to at least three neighbor participants, wherein an originating participant sends data to the other participants by sending the data through each of its connections to its neighbor participants and wherein each participant sends data that it receives from a neighbor participant to its other neighbor participants, further wherein the network is m-regular, where m is the exact number of neighbor participants of each participant and further wherein the number of participants is at least two greater than m thus resulting in a non-complete graph.

(D.I. 1-1, Exh. 1 ('344 patent), claim 1). Claim 1 of the '344 patent, for the purposes of this motion, is substantially similar to the language in claim 1 of the '966 and '634 patents. (Compare '344 patent, claim 1, with D.I. 1-1, Exh. 2 ('966 patent), claim 1 and D.I. 1-2, Exh. 4 ('634 patent), claim 1).

         The Broadcast Claims generally relate to a "broadcast channel for a subset of [] computers of an underlying network." ('344 patent, 1:27-29). Prior communication techniques were not "particularly well suited to the simultaneous sharing of information among computers that are widely distributed." ('344 patent, 1:33-39). Prior communication techniques interconnected all participants using point-to-point connections, and thus, did not "scale well" as J the number of participants grew. ('344 patent, 1: 44-49).

         The Broadcast Claims overlay the underlying network system with a certain graph of point-to-point connections between host computers (or "nodes") through which a broadcast channel is implemented. ('344 patent, 4:23-26). This graph is a non-complete, m-regular network. A non-complete, m-regular network is a network where each node is connected to the same number of other nodes, or "m" number of other nodes, and where each node is not connected to all other nodes. (See '344 patent, 4:26-47). Figure 1 of the '344 patent illustrates an example of a non-complete, m-regular network, where m is four.

         (Image Omitted.)

         ('344 patent, fig. 1). This graph is implemented at the application level using an underlying network system (like the Internet). ('344 patent, 4:14-19). The Broadcast Claims meet the need for "a reliable communications network that is suitable for the simultaneous sharing of information among a large number of the processes that are widely distributed." ('344 patent, 2:38-42).

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Motion to Dismiss

         Rule 8 requires a complainant to provide "a short and plain statement of the claim I showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) allows the accused party to bring a motion to dismiss the claim for failing to meet this standard. A Rule12(b)(6) motion may be granted only if, accepting the well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and viewing them in the light most favorable to the complainant, a court concludes that those allegations "could not raise a claim of entitlement to relief." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 558 (2007).

         "Though 'detailed factual allegations' are not required, a complaint must do more than simply provide 'labels and conclusions' or 'a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.'" Davis v. Abington Mem 7Hosp., 765 F.3d 236, 241 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). I am "not required to credit bald assertions or legal conclusions improperly alleged in the complaint." In re Rockefeller Ctr. Props., Inc. Sec. Litig., 311 F.3d 198, 216 (3d Cir. 2002). A complaint may not be dismissed, however, "for imperfect statement of the legal theory supporting the claim asserted." See Johnson v. City of Shelby, 135 S.Ct. 346, 346 (2014).

         A complainant must plead facts sufficient to show that a claim has "substantive plausibility." Id. at 347. That plausibility must be found on the face of the complaint. Ashcroft v. Iqbal,556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "A claim has facial plausibility when the [complainant] pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the [accused] is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. Deciding whether a claim is plausible will be a "context- specific ...


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