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S.I.SV. v. Rhapsody International Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 12, 2019

S.I.SV.EL. SOCIETA ITALIANA PER LO SVILUPPO DELL' ELETTRONICA S.P.A, Plaintiff,
v.
RHAPSODY INTERNATIONAL INC., Defendant. S.I.SV.EL. SOCIETA ITALIANA PER LO SVILUPPO DELL' ELETTRONICA S.P.A, Plaintiff,
v.
SPOTIFY USA INC., Defendant.

          Timothy Devlin, DEVLIN LAW FIRM LLC, Wilmington, DE, Attorney for Plaintiff.

          David E. Moore, Bindu A. Palapura and Stephanie E. O'Byrne, POTTER ANDERSON & CORROON LLP, Wilmington, DE; Patrick Bageant, HOLLYSTONE LAW, Boise, ID, Attorneys for Defendant Rhapsody International Inc.

          David E. Moore, Bindu A. Palapura and Stephanie E. O'Byrne, POTTER ANDERSON & CORROON LLP, Wilmington, DE; Stefani E. Shanberg, MORRISON & FOERSTER LLP, San Francisco, CA, Attorneys for Defendant Spotify USA Inc.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          BURKE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Presently before the Court in this patent infringement case is Defendant Rhapsody International Inc. ("Rhapsody") and Defendant Spotify USA Inc.'s ("Spotify" and collectively, "Defendants") "Early Motion for Summary Judgment of Invalidity Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 101 ["Section 101"]" (the "Motion"), filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (D.I. 9)[1]Defendants argue that Plaintiff S.I.SV.EL. Societa Italiana per lo Sviluppo Dell'Elettronica S.p.A's ("Plaintiff) asserted United States Patent Nos. 7, 412, 202 (the '"202 patent"), 8, 490, 123 (the '"123 patent"), 7, 035, 863 (the '"863 patent"), 8, 321, 456 (the '"456 patent"), and 7, 734, 680 (the '"680 patent") (collectively, the "asserted patents" or the "patents-in-suit") are directed to non-patent-eligible subject matter pursuant to Section 101. (D.I. 11) This Memorandum Opinion will address the Motion as it relates to the '123 patent only.[2] For the reasons set out below, the Court DENIES Defendants' Motion as it relates to that patent.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         The '123 patent is entitled "Method and Device for Generating a User Profile on the Basis of Playlists." (D.I. 1, ex. 2 (the '"123 patent")) The '123 patent has 19 claims, of which two (claim 1 and claim 11) are independent claims. (Id., cols. 8:31-10:44)

         The technology described in the '123 patent relates to methods for "generating a user profile on a media device which has obtained a set of playlists." (Id., col. 1:5-7) In general, the asserted patent claims "a method and device" where "the user profile is generated on the basis of the user's own playlists and properties derived from them." (Id., Abstract) A "playlist," according to the patent, "is an ordered list of e.g. musical pieces (songs)[]" or other content, such as "pictorial pieces (video)." (Id., col. 3:4-6)

         The '123 patent explains that, at the time of the invention, it was "known in the art to use user preferences, e.g. in the form of a corresponding user profile, to recommend content [i.e., a song or a movie] to users." (Id., col. 1:20-23) The use of user preferences and a user profile in this way helped "users [of, for example, a CD player, a radio or a personal computer] to select or recommend content of preferred taste to them[]" while "reliev[ing] the user of the time-consuming task ... of selecting appropriate media content among a huge amount of available content [of, for example, MP3 files.]" (Id., col. 1:23-30) The patent explains that the previously known art obtained user preferences in one of two ways-either it: (1) required the users to assign a rating to the content at issue; or (2) observed how the user used the content (e.g., when the content was played back). (Id., col. 1:35-38)

         One problem with the prior art was that a single playlist could only be used to express "partial interests" (e.g., one playlist might "represent[] interest(s) in rock content, another ... in movie content... whereas still another ... in soap opera TV broadcasts"). (Id., col. 1:39-44) In that way, the patent explains, a single playlist "can be an incomplete and . . . only partial expression for a partial user interest in a dedicated content area[.]" (Id., co\. 1:44-48) A need therefore arose, according to the patent, for a single playlist that represents "broad user interests in several and various content areas (actually preferred by its owner and user)." (Id., col. 1:49-52)

         The patent lists additional problems with prior art methods/devices in this area. For example, "the task of observing usage of content [was] rather unreliable because a device that plays back content does not typically register who actually listens to and/or watches the content." (Id., col. 1:53-56) Moreover, asking a user to provide explicit ratings on the content that they play back "places an additional time-consuming burden ... on the user." (Id., col. 1:56-58) And "current recommenders (that learn from examples)" in the market did not "efficiently analyze playlists composed by a user" in that they did "not analyze how the playlists are made" and provided recommendations for playlists in "a too simple manner, e.g. take best 10 items." (Id., col. 1:59-65)

         In light of all of this, the '123 patent explains that it was "an object of the present invention" to: (1) "provide an automated generation of a reliable user profile, which contains information about the user's preferences with respect to different playlist aspects[;]" (2) "solve the [other] above-[referenced] problems of the prior art[;]" and (3) "determine user preferences on the basis of the user playlist(s)." (Id., cols. 1:66-2:5)

         B. Procedural Background

         The Court hereby incorporates by reference the summary of the procedural background of this matter, which was set out in its March 8, 2019 Memorandum Opinion ("March 8, 2019 MO"). (D.I. 25 at 4)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW The Court also incorporates by reference the standard of review applicable to summary judgment motions and the legal standards relating to Section 101, which ...


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