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Nuance Communications, Inc. v. Mmodal LLC

United States District Court, D. Delaware

December 14, 2018

NUANCE COMMUNICATIONS, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
MMODAL LLC, MMODAL IP LLC, LP PARENT, INC. and LEGEND PARENT, INC., Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Sherry R. Fallon, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Presently before the court in this patent infringement action is a partial motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), filed by defendants MModal LLC, MModal IP LLC, LP Parent, Inc., and Legend Parent, Inc. (collectively, "MModal"). (D.I. 20)[1] For the following reasons, I recommend that the court grant MModal's motion to dismiss with respect to United States Patent No. 7, 379, 946, and deny the motion to dismiss with respect to United States Patent Nos. 6, 999, 933 and 8, 117, 034.[2]

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Parties

         Nuance designs and provides voice recognition and transcription technologies for businesses and individuals around the world, and its products include Dragon Medical, PowerScribe, eScription, EditScript, and Velocity. (D.I. 1 at ¶ 1) Nuance is the owner by assignment of United States Patent Nos. 9, 564, 126 ("the '126 patent"), 7, 379, 946 ("the '946 patent"), 6, 308, 158 ("the '158 patent"), 6, 766, 295 ("the '295 patent"), 6, 999, 933 ("the '933 patent"), and 8, 117, 034 ("the '034 patent"). (Id. at ¶¶ 12-17)

         Defendants MModal LLC and MModal IP LLC are privately-held limited liability corporations. (Id. at ¶¶ 4-5) Defendant LP Parent, Inc. holds 100% of the equity in Legend Parent, Inc., which holds 100% of the equity in MModal Inc. (Id. at ¶ 8) MModal Inc. indirectly owns MModal IP LLC, and directly or indirectly owns the remaining affiliates of its parent companies. (Id.) Nuance accuses MModal of infringing the '946 patent, the '295 patent, the '933 patent, and the '034 patent (collectively, the "Asserted Patents")[3] by providing products under the M*Modal Fluency and M*MODAL CDI solutions umbrella brands that use voice capture and recognition technology for Computer-Assisted Physician Documentation ("CAPD") and Clinical Documentation Improvement ("CDI"). (Id. at ¶ 18) Specifically, Nuance identifies the following allegedly infringing products: Fluency Direct, Fluency for Transcription, Fluency for Imaging, Fluency Flex, Fluency Mobile, CDI Assess, CDI Collaborate, CDI Engage, and reasonably similar products ("the Accused CAPD Products and Services"). (Id.)

         B. Patents-In-Suit

         Nuance filed this patent infringement action on October 23, 2017, asserting claims for infringement of the Asserted Patents. (D.I. 1 at ¶ 1) Only the '946, '933, and '034 patents are the subject of MModal's partial motion to dismiss under 35 U.S.C. § 101.[4]

         The '946 patent was filed on May 7, 2004 and claims priority to a provisional application filed on March 31, 2004. The '946 patent covers automated speech recognition ("ASR"), and "relates generally to methods and apparatus for categorizing input data in speech recognition systems and classifying the data into predetermined classifications." ('946 patent, col. 1:65-68) The invention of the '946 patent represented improvements over the prior art systems, which were often only able to transcribe, and could not analyze or categorize the transcribed text. (Id. at col. 2:10-16) Contrary to prior art systems using natural language processing ("NLP"), the ASR system claimed in the '946 patent does not require complex software. (Id. at col. 2:24-26) Claim 1 of the '946 patent recites:

A computer implemented method for generating a report that includes latent information, comprising:
receiving an input data stream;
performing one of normalization, validation, and extraction of the input data stream;
processing the input data stream to identify latent information within the data stream that is required for generation of a particular report, wherein said processing of the input data stream to identify latent information comprises of identifying a relevant portion of the input data stream, bounding the relevant portion of the input data stream, identifying a predetermined class of information, and normalizing the relevant portion of the input data stream; activating a relevant report template based on the said identified latent information;
populating said template with template-specified data;
processing the template-specified data to generate a report.

('946 patent, col. 16:10-29)

         The '933 and '034 patents, which were filed on March 25, 2002 and March 26, 2002, respectively, are directed to computer-implemented devices and methods for assisting users in recognizing and correcting errors in a transcription produced from a speech recognition device. ('933 patent, claims 1 & 9; '034 patent, claims 1 & 8) The '933 and '034 patents acknowledge the existence of devices and methods for assisting users in correcting transcripts in the prior art, but they identify problems with the prior art methods and devices, including costly delays. ('933 patent, col. 1:16-2:13) The '933 and '034 patents improve the prior art methods and devices by claiming a synchronous playback mode that does not require the user to manually stop and start synchronous playback to make corrections. Claim 9 of the '933 patent recites:

A correction method (16) for the correction of incorrect words in text information (ETI) recognized by a speech recognition device (1) from speech information (SD), in which the following method steps are executed:
reception of the speech information (SD), the associated recognized text information (ETI) and link information (LI), which marks the part of speech information (SD) at which the word was recognized by the speech recognition device (1) for each word of the recognized text information (ETI);
allowing a synchronous playback mode, in which, during the acoustic playback of the speech information (SD) the word of the recognized text information (ETI), which word is marked by the link information (LI) for the speech information (SD) just played back is marked synchronously, while the word just marked features the position of an audio cursor (AC);
editing of the incorrect word with a text cursor (TC) according to editing information (EI) entered by a user, the editing of the incorrect word being possible with the synchronous playback mode activated in the correction device (10).

('933 patent, claim 9) Claim 8 of the '034 patent recites:

A method of assisting in correcting text information recognized by a speech recognition device from speech information, the method comprising:
receiving the speech information, the text information recognized from the speech information, and link information that associates portions of the text information with portions of the speech information from which the portions of the text information were recognized by the speech recognition device;
providing an audio cursor for display during acoustic playback of the speech information, the audio cursor highlighting portions of the text information synchronous with the playback of the speech information according to associations provided by the link information such that, when displayed to the user, the audio cursor highlights the portions of the text information as the associated portions of the speech information are being acoustically played back; and
providing a text cursor for display to facilitate editing the text information, the text cursor indicating a position in the text information where at least one edit will be performed upon receiving editing information entered by the user; and automatically synchronizing the text cursor and the audio cursor, wherein automatically synchronizing the text cursor and the audio cursor comprises automatically positioning the text cursor at a predetermined position relative to a location of the audio cursor and automatically moving the location of ...

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