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Acceleration Bay LLC v. Activision Blizzard Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

December 20, 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.

          Philip A. Rovner, Jonathan A. Choa, POTTER ANDERSON & CORROON LLP, Wilmington, DE; Paul J. Andre (argued), Lisa Kobialka, James Hannah, Hannah Lee, KRAMER LEVIN NAFTALIS & FRANKEL LLP, Menlo Park, CA; Aaron M. Frankel (argued), KRAMER LEVIN NAFTALIS & FRANKEL LLP, New York, NY. Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          Jack B. Blumenfeld, Stephen J. Kxaftschik, MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT & TUNNEL LLP, Wilmington, DE; Michael A. Tomasulo (argued), Gino Cheng, David K. Lin, Joe S. Netikosol, WINSTON & STRAWN LLP, Los Angeles, CA; David P. Enzminger, WINSTON & STRAWN LLP, Menlo Park, CA; Dan K. Webb, Kathleen B. Barry, WINSTON & STRAWN LLP, Chicago, IL; Krista M. Enns, WINSTON & STRAWN LLP, San Francisco, CA; Michael M. Murray (argued), WINSTON & STRAWN LLP, New York, NY; Andrew R. Sommer, WINSTON & STRAWN LLP, Washington, DC. Attorneys for Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently before me is the issue of claim construction of multiple terms in U.S. Patent No. 6, 701, 344 (the '"344 patent"), U.S. Patent No. 6, 714, 966 (the '"966 patent"), U.S. Patent No. 6, 829, 634 (the '"634 patent"), U.S. Patent No. 6, 910, 069 (the '"069 patent"), U.S. Patent No. 6, 732, 147 (the '"147 patent"), and U.S. Patent No. 6, 920, 497 (the '"497 patent"). I have considered the parties' Joint Claim Construction Brief. (D.I. 321).[1] I issued an Order and Stipulation Regarding Supplemental Claim Construction Briefing, pursuant to which the parties address terms 14, 15, 19, 20, and 22. (D.I. 206; D.I. 215). I held oral argument on December 4, 2017. (D.I. 370 ("Tr.")).

         I. 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.'" SoftViewLLC 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. 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. 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 omitted).

         II. BACKGROUND

         The following claims are the most relevant for the purposes of this Markman.

         Claim 11 of the '147 Patent

11. A computer-readable medium containing instructions for controlling disconnecting of a computer from another computer, the computer and other computer being connected to a broadcast channel, said broadcast channel being an m-regular graph where m is at least 3, comprising:
a component that, when the computer decides to disconnect from the other computer, the computer sends a disconnect message to the other computer, said disconnect message including a list of neighbors of the computer; and
a component that, when the computer receives a disconnect message from another computer, the computer broadcasts a connection port search message on the broadcast channel to find a computer to which it can connect in order to maintain an m-regular graph, said computer to which it can connect being one of the neighbors on said list of neighbors.

(D.I. 117-2, Exh. A-3 ('"147 patent"), claim 11) (emphasis added).

         Claim 1 of the '069 Patent

1. A computer-based, non-routing table based, non-switch based method for adding a participant to a network of participants, each participant being connected to three or more other participants, the method comprising:
identifying a pair of participants of the network that are connected wherein a seeking participant contacts a fully connected portal computer, which in turn sends an edge connection request to a number of randomly selected neighboring participants to which the seeking participant is to connect;
disconnecting the participants of the identified pair from each other; and
connecting each participant of the identified pair of participants to the seeking participant.

(D.I. 117-2, Exh. A-5 ('"069 patent"), claim 1) (emphasis added).

         Claim 13 of the '344 Patent

         13. A distributed game system comprising:

a plurality of broadcast channels, each broadcast channel for playing a game, each of the broadcast channels for providing game information related to said game to 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 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;
means for identifying a broadcast channel for a game of interest; and
means for connecting to the identified broadcast channel.

(D.I. 117-2, Exh. A-l ('"344 patent"), claim 1) (emphasis added).

         Claim 19 of the '634 Patent

13. A non-routing table based computer-readable medium containing instructions for controlling communications of a participant of a broadcast channel within a network, by a method comprising:
locating a portal computer;
requesting the located portal computer to provide an indication of neighbor participants to which the participant can be connected; receiving the indications of the neighbor participants; and
establishing a connection between the participant and each of the indicated neighbor participants, wherein a connection between the portal computer and the participant is not established, wherein a connection between the portal computer and the neighbor participants is not established, further wherein the network is m-regular and m-connected, where m is the 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. 117-2, Exh. A-4 ("'634 patent"), claim 19) (emphasis added).

         III. TERMS FOR CONSTRUCTION

         1. Term 14: "connection" ('344/12, 13; '966/12, 13; '634/19; '069/1, 11, 12; '147/1, ...


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