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TriPlay Inc. v. WhatsApp Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 27, 2018

TRIPLAY, INC. and TRIPLAY, LTD., Plaintiffs,
v.
WHATSAPP INC., Defendant.

          Gregory E. Stuhlman, GREENBERG TRAURIG, LLP, Wilmington, DE Michael A. Nicodema, Douglas R. Weider, Jason H. Kislin, GREENBERG TRAURIG, LLP, Florham Park, N.J. Attorneys for Plaintiffs TriPlay, Inc. and TriPlay, Ltd.

          Jack B. Blumenfeld, Rodger D. Smith II, MORRIS, NICHOLS, ARSHT & TUNNELL LLP, Wilmington, DE Douglas E. Lumish, Richard G. Frenkel, Yasamin Parsafar, LATHAM & WATKINS LLP, Menlo Park, CA Gabriel K. Bell, LATHAM & WATKINS LLP, Washington, D.C. Attorneys for Defendant WhatsApp Inc.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARK, U.S. District Judge.

         Plaintiffs TriPlay, Inc. and TriPlay, Ltd. ("Plaintiffs" or "TriPlay") assert, in the operative Third Amended Complaint ("TAC"), that Defendant WhatsApp Inc. ("Defendant" or "WhatsApp") infringes TriPlay's U.S. Patent Nos. 8, 332, 475 (the '"475 patent") and 8, 874, 677 (the '"677 patent"), both entitled "Messaging System and Method." (D.I. 80) WhatsApp has filed a motion to dismiss, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), on the grounds that the patents-in-suit fail to claim patent eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. (D.I. 120) In a 45-page Report and Recommendation (the "Report") (D.I. 145), issued on November 20, 2017, Judge Burke recommended that the Court deny WhatsApp's motion. WhatsApp objected to the Report (D.I. 147) ("Objections"), to which TriPlay responded (D.I. 150) ("Response"), and the Court heard oral argument on February 26, 2018 (see D.I. 155) ("Tr."). The Court will sustain WhatsApp's objections and grant its motion to dismiss.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In a previous Order, the Court adopted Judge Burke's earlier recommendation and concluded that claim 12 of the '475 patent was not eligible for patenting. At the same time, the Court deferred ruling on the patentabilty of claim 1 of the '475 patent, as well as other claims, concluding that claim construction was necessary before the parties' dispute could be resolved. (See D.I. 52 (Report and Recommendation); D.I. 72 (Order))

         There two patents-in-suit share an identical specification. Both relate to cross-platform messaging between two devices that do not share compatible media/messaging capabilities. '475 patent at 1:5-6; '677 patent at 1:5-6. The patents describe converting an initial message into a format and/or layout that is compatible with the destination device. '475 patent at 5:22-26, 16:51-65, 17:6-8. The '677 patent differs from the '475 patent by claiming the scenario in which the initial message includes a video - in that case, the video is converted into a "clickable link" for non-compatible devices. '677 patent at 23:23-51.

         The parties agree that the representative claims are claims 1 and 8 of the '475 patent and claims 15 and 9 of the '677 patent. (See Report at 11 n.8) These claims are reproduced below.

         Claim 1 of the '475 patent recites:

A system for message communication via a communication media between one or more originating communication devices assigned to a sender and one or more destination communication devices assigned to a receiver, the system comprising:
a) an access block configured to receive, directly or indirectly, from at least one originating communication device a message having initial characteristics comprising, at least message format and an initial message layout, and to transmit the message to at least one destination communication device;
b) a media block operatively coupled to said access block and configured to select, before transmitting, at least one message format and a message layout for each of the at least one message formats fitting to each of said at least one destination device, and to then convert at least said initial message layout to the selected message layouts, said selection and conversion being done in accordance with at least one criterion selected from a group comprising:
i) criterion related to message communication capabilities of the destination communication device with regard to message communication capabilities of the originating communication device;
ii) criterion related to message displaying capabilities of the destination communication device with regard to message communication capabilities of the originating communication device; and
iii) criterion related to the communication media.

         Claim 8 of the '475 patent depends from claim 7, which depends from claim 6, which depends from claim 1. Therefore, claims 6-8 are recited below:

6. The system of claim 1 configured to receive a message having a layout based on a template, said template characterized by at least a unique identifier, wherein the system is further configured to recognize the unique identifier of the template, and the media block is further configured to select, before transmitting, at least one message format and a message layout for each of the at least one message formats fitting to each of said at least one destination device, and then convert the initial layout of the message to the selected message layouts, said selection and conversion being done in accordance with at least one predefined layout corresponding to the recognized unique identifier and the displaying capabilities of the destination communication device.
7. The system of claim 6 wherein the template is selected from a group comprising initial interactive message and replying interactive message.
8. The system of claim 7 wherein the unique identifier corresponding to at least one message is considered as a criterion for selecting and converting the message format.

         Claim 15 of the '677 patent depends from claim 6. Claims 6 and 15 recite:

6. A messaging system comprising an access block operatively coupled to a media block, wherein:
the access block is configured to receive an initial message sent by an originating communication device to a destination communication device, the initial message being characterized, at least, by message format, an initial message layout, and data indicative of at least one receiver associated with the initial message, wherein the initial message includes a video;
the media block is configured to obtain data indicative of displaying capabilities of the destination communication device and enable conversion, in accordance with a criterion related to the displaying capabilities of the destination communication device, of the initial message into an adapted message, wherein the conversion comprises:
a) providing, by the media block, a clickable icon:
i) based on the video from the initial message and
ii) clickable into an adapted version of the video, wherein the adapted version of the video is adapted to the displaying capabilities of the destination communication device, and
b) determining, by the media block, an adapted message layout, comprising the clickable icon; and
the access block is further configured to enable transmitting the adapted message to the destination communication device associated with the at least one receiver.
15. The system of claim 6, wherein the media block is configured to convert the initial message into the adapted message, and wherein the clickable icon is adapted to the displaying capabilities of the destination device.

         Finally, claim 9 of the '677 patent depends from claim 8, which depends from claim 6 (recited above). Claims 8 and 9 are reproduced below:

8. The system of claim 6, wherein the initial message is characterized by the initial message layout based on a template, the template being characterized by, at least, a unique template identifier; and wherein the media block is further configured to provide the adapted ...

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