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TMI Solutions LLC v. Bath & Body Works Direct, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

September 28, 2018

TMI SOLUTIONS LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
BATH & BODY WORKS DIRECT, INC., Defendant. TMI SOLUTIONS LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
THE GAP INC., Defendant. TMI SOLUTIONS LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
NORDSTROM, INC., Defendant. TMI SOLUTIONS LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
STAPLES INC., Defendant. MI SOLUTIONS LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
VICTORIA'S SECRET STORES, INC. and L BRANDS, INC., Defendants.

          Timothy Devlin, DEVLIN LAW FIRM LLC, Wilmington, DE Timothy E. Grochocinski, Joseph P. Oldaker, NELSON BUMGARDNER PC, Orland Park, IL Attorneys for Plaintiff TMI Solutions LLC

          Beth Moskow-Schnoll, Evan W. Krick, BALLARD SPAHR LLP, Wilmington, DE Lynn E. Rzonca, BALLARD SPAHR LLP, Philadelphia, PA Richard W. Miller, Chittam U. Thakore, BALLARD SPAHR LLP, Atlanta, GA Attorneys for Defendants Bath & Body Works Direct, Inc., The Gap, Inc., and Victoria's Secret Stores, Inc. and L Brands, Inc.

          Frederick L. Cottrell, III, Katharine L. Mowery, RICHARDS, LAYTON & FINGER, P.A. Wilmington, DE Douglas F. Stewart, BRACEWELL LLP, Seattle, WA David J. Ball, BRACEWELL LLP, New York, NY Attorneys for Defendant Nordstrom, Inc.

          Denise S. Kraft, Brian A. Briggs, DLA PIPER LLP (US), Wilmington, DE Nicholas G. Papastavros, Yasmin Ghassab, DLA PIPER LLP (US), Boston, MA Attorneys for Defendant Staples, Inc.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARK, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court in these five related patent infringement cases are Defendants Bath & Body Works Direct, Inc., The Gap, Inc., Nordstrom, Inc., Staples, Inc., Victoria's Secret Stores, Inc., and L Brands, Inc.'s (collectively, "Defendants") motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (See, e.g., C. A. No. 17-965-LPS-CJB D.I. 15)[1] Defendants raise two grounds in their motions to dismiss: (i) the asserted patents are directed to patent ineligible subject matter pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 101; and (ii) the complaint fails to state a plausible claim for direct infringement under the Twombly/Iqbal pleading standard. The parties completed briefing (D.I. 16, 20, 21, 23) and, thereafter, filed multiple notices identifying recent opinions of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit related to § 101 (D.I. 24, 25, 26, 28). Even though the parties have not provided their specific analyses of all of these opinions, the Court has considered each of them in reaching its decision here. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny Defendants' motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff TMI Solutions LLC ("Plaintiff or "TMI") sued Defendants for infringement of United States Patent Nos. 9, 484, 077 ('"077 patent") and 9, 484, 078 ('"078 patent").[2] Both the '077 and '078 patents are entitled "Providing Services from a Remote Computer System to a User Station Over a Communication Network." Both are continuations of U.S. Patent App. No. 12/603, 209 and trace their lineage back to U.S. Patent App. No. 08/251, 724, filed on May 31, 1994, which is now U.S. Patent No. 5, 694, 546. The patents relate to methods for "providing services from a remote computer system to a user station over a communications network and, more particularly, to automated identification of users." '077 patent, 1:30-33.

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants infringe at least claim 6 of the '077 patent and at least claims 1 and 2 of the '078 patent "by, among other things, practicing and/or using hardware that practices the computer implemented method[s] set forth in [the aforementioned claims] via Defendants'] use of cookies in conjunction with its website." (D.I. 1 at 11, 19) A "cookie" is a "small packet of information . . . that is stored in the user's computer either temporarily for that session or permanently on the hard disk." (D.I. 16 at 3 & n.2 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also D.I. 1 Ex. 2 at 4 ("A cookie is a small data file that's stored by your Web browser on your computer or device. . . . [and is] used to do things like see how you navigate [a] website, and remember you and your online purchases when you return."))

         Claim 6 of the '077 patent recites:

         A computer implemented method, comprising:

receiving first user identification information at a remote computer system over a communications network from a user station during a first user-initiated communication session for a user not previously identified to the remote computer system;
sending second information that is a function of the first user identification information and that is different from the first user identification information from the remote computer system to the user station over the communications network during the first user-initiated communication session to be stored automatically at the user station:
storing third information that is based on the first user identification information at a location remote from the user station and accessible to the remote computer system;
receiving at the remote computer system the second information over the communications network during a subsequent and separate user-initiated communication session automatically from the user station;
retrieving the stored third information at the remote computer system using the received second information, during the subsequent and separate communication session;
using the retrieved third information for interaction with the remote computer system during the subsequent and separate communication session; and
receiving second user identification information at the remote computer system, sending fourth information that is a function of and different from the second user identification information to the user station and storing fifth information based on the second user identification information at the location remote from the user station.

         Claim 1 of the '078 patent recites:

         A computer implemented method, comprising:

receiving by a remote computer system over a communications network, first information identifying a user station not previously identified to the remote computer system during a first user initiated communication session;
sending from the remote computer system to the user station second information that is a function of an different from the first information during the first user initiated communication session;
storing third information based on the first information at a location remote from the user station and accessible to the remote computer system;
receiving the second information at the remote computer system during a second user initiated communication session from the user station automatically, wherein the user station triggers automatically sending the second information to the remote computer system, wherein ...

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