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Tabletop Media, LLC v. Ami Entertainment Network, LLC

United States District Court, D. Delaware

June 13, 2018

TABLETOP MEDIA, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
AMI ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK, LLC, Defendant. AMI ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
E LA CARTE, INC., Defendant.

          Kelly E. Farnan, Nicole K. Pedi, RICHARDS, LAYTON & FINGER, PA, Wilmington, DE; Samuel E. Joyner (argued), Chijioke E. Offor (argued), SHORE CHAN DEPUMPO LLP, Dallas, TX. Attorneys for Tabletop Media, LLC

          John D. Simmons (argued), Dennis J. Butler, PANITCH SCHWARZE BELISARIO & NADEL, LLP, Wilmington, DE; Keith A. Jones, PANITCH SCHWARZE BELISARIO & NADEL, LLP, Philadelphia, PA. Attorneys for AMI Entertainment Network, LLC

          Sean M. Brennecke, KLEHR, HARRISON, HARVEY, BRANZBURG LLP, Wilmington, DE; Todd A. Noah (argued), DERGOSITS & NOAH LLP, San Francisco, CA; Andrew S. MacKay, Padmini Cheruvu, DONAHUE FITZGERALD LLP, Oakland, CA. Attorneys for E La Carte, Inc.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE:

         Presently before the Court is the issue of claim construction of multiple terms in U.S. Patent No. 9, 403, 091 ("the '091 patent"). The Court has considered the parties' joint claim construction brief. (Civ. Act. No. 16-1121, D.I. 50; Civ. Act. No. 17-916, D.I. 32).[1] The Court heard oral argument on May 16, 2018. (D.I. 53).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 2, 2016, Tabletop Media filed suit against AMI for a declaratory judgment of non-infringement of the '091 patent. (D.I. 1). On July 7, 2017, AMI filed suit against E La Carte, alleging infringement of the '091 patent. (Civ. Act. No. 17-916, D.I. 1).

         The invention claimed in the '091 patent "relates generally to an amusement device and, more particularly, relates to an amusement device having time-based operating modes." ('091 patent, 1:21-23).

         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). '"[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. Westview Instruments, Inc., 52 F.3d 967, 979-80 (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.

         "[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. "[T]he ordinary meaning of a claim term is its meaning to [an] ordinary artisan after reading the entire patent." Id. at 1321. "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 Pharms. 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).

         III. PATENT-IN-SUIT

         Claim 1 of the '091 patent is representative. That claim reads as follows:

1. A table-top, counter-top, or table-mounted amusement device comprising:
(a) a frame having a base for contacting or connecting to a table or counter;
(b) a touchscreen display disposed within the frame and configured to accept touch input from a user;
(c) a currency accepter mounted to or disposed in the frame;
(d) a memory that stores a system control program;
(e) a communications driver disposed in the frame; and
(f) a controller disposed within the frame and operatively connected to the memory, the communications driver, the touchscreen display, and the currency accepter, the controller controlling the display based upon the system control program retrieved from the memory and based upon inputs received by the touchscreen display, the controller being configured to:
(i) grant a user a block of time during which the user is permitted to selectively retrieve and play one of a plurality of electronic games and retrieve and play at least one other of the plurality of electronic games, each of the plurality of electronic games being different from the others and providing a score that does not affect the block of time granted, and (ii) determine a total amount of a payment or credit owed for ...

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