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Olympus Corp. v. Maxell, Ltd.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

November 14, 2018

OLYMPUS CORPORATION and OLYMPUS AMERICA INC., Plaintiffs,
v.
MAXELL, LTD., Defendant.

          John W. Shaw, Karen E. Keller, Nathan R. Hoeschen, Shaw Keller LLP, Wilmington, DE; William J. McCabe, Matthew J. Moffa, Thomas V. Matthew, Perkins Coie LLP, New York, NY; Kyle R. Canavera, Perkins Coie LLP, San Diego, CA - Attorneys for Plaintiffs Olympus Corporation and Olympus America Inc.

          Timothy Devlin, James Gorman, Devlin Law Firm LLC, Wilmington, DE; Jamie B. Beaber, Kfir B. Levy, James A. Fussell, III, Tiffany A. Miller, Baldine B. Paul, Alison T. Gelsleichter, Mayer Brown LLP, Washington, DC; Robert G. Pluta, Mayer Brown LLP, Chicago, IL -Attorneys for Defendant Maxell, Ltd.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NOREIKA U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Presently before the Court is the motion of Plaintiffs Olympus Corporation and Olympus America Inc. ("Plaintiffs") for judgment on the pleadings (D.I. 18) that the claims of U.S. Patent No. 8, 478, 102 ("the '102 Patent") are invalid as claiming ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On February 6, 2018, Plaintiffs filed the present action against Defendant Maxell, Ltd. ("Defendant" or "Maxell"), seeking a declaratory judgment that certain of Plaintiffs' products do not infringe various patents owned by Maxell -i.e., U.S. Patent Nos. 6, 765, 616 ("the '616Patent"), 7, 199, 821 ("the '821 Patent"), 7, 551, 209 ("the '209 Patent"), 8, 130, 284 ("the '284 Patent") and 9, 451, 229 ("the '229 Patent") (collectively, "the Maxell Patents"). (D.I. 1 ¶ 1). On April 27, 2018, Defendant answered the complaint, agreeing that there is "an actual, substantial, continuing and justiciable controversy" as to whether Plaintiffs infringe four of the Maxell Patents (D.I. 10 at 5-9), and Defendant asserted counterclaims of infringement for the '616, '821, '209 and '284 Patents (D.I. 10 at 11 -25). Defendant also asserted counterclaims of infringement against Plaintiffs for six additional patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 8, 059, 177, 9, 100, 604, 8, 599, 244, 8, 417, 088, 7, 457, 529 and the '102 Patent. (D.I. 10 at 26-48). On May 18, 2018, Plaintiffs each answered the counterclaims (D.I. 16, 17), and on July 7, 2018, Plaintiffs filed the present motion for judgment on the pleadings (D.I. 18), alleging that the '102 Patent is invalid as claiming ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

         The '102 Patent, which is titled "Information Recording/Play-Backing Apparatus," is directed to "[p]ortable information recording/play-back arrangements, wherein a controller judges whether a mode ... is an imaging mode or a dubbing mode" and the controller controls the source of power for imaging and play-back modules when in imaging mode, and the controller permits dubbing operations when in dubbing mode and the play-back modules operate on external power. ('102 Patent at Abstract). The '102 Patent contains five claims, each of which recites a "portable information recording/play-back apparatus" with additional limitations related to imaging and recording/play-back modules, media storage and battery monitoring. Claim 1 is the only independent claim of the '102 Patent and it recites:

A portable information recording/play-back apparatus comprising: an imaging module which images video information;
a first recording/play-back module which records the video information into a first recording medium, or plays-back the video information from the first recording medium;
a second recording/play-back module which records the video information into a second recording medium, or plays-back the video information from the second recording medium;
a battery; and
a controller which controls at least the imaging module, the first and second recording/play-back module,
wherein the controller judges whether a mode, controlling the first recording/play-back module and the second recording/play-back module, is an imaging mode, controlling so that the first recording/play-back module or the second recording/play-back module records a video information imaged by the imaging module into the first recording medium or the second recording medium, or a dubbing mode which controls a dubbing operation, the first recording/play-back module plays back a video information from the first recording medium and the second recording/play-back module recording the video information which is play-backed from the first recording medium into the second recording medium;
when the controller judges that the mode is the imaging mode operating on the battery, the controller controls so that if recording into one recording medium is performed, recording into the other recording medium is stopped; and
when the controller judges that the mode is the dubbing mode and the first and second recording/play-back modules operate on the battery, if the battery remaining amount is larger than a threshold value, the controller ...

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