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S.I.SV.EL. Societa Italiana Per Lo Sviluppo Dell' Elettronica S.P.A v. Rhapsody International Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

April 24, 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 AND MICHAEL J. GUO, 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 '863 patent only.[2] For the reasons set out below, the Court GRANTS Defendants' Motion as it relates to that patent.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         The '863 patent is entitled "Method, System and Program Product for Populating a User Profile Based on Existing User Profiles[.]" (D.l. 1, ex. 5 (the '"863 patent")) The '863 patent has 22 claims, with claims 1, 7, 11 and 17 being independent claims. (Id., col. 7:50-10:14)

         The technology described in the '863 patent "relates to a method, system and program product for populating a user profile based on existing user profiles[, ]" such as by "populating] a new user profile based on existing user profiles grouped into Vor[o]noi cluster regions."[3] (Id., col. 1:12-16) In general, the asserted patent designates base characteristics for a new user profile and then associates that profile with "a particular Vor[o]noi cluster region of existing user profiles." (Id., Abstract) Next, using defined characteristics found in the existing profiles within the region, the new user profile is created. Id. Lastly, after the profile is created, "viewing recommendations can be made." Id.

         The patent-in-suit was drafted at a time when "the functionality of consumer electronic devices [was] increasing]." (Id., 1:19-22) In the realm of cable and satellite television, for example, many consumers possessed set-top boxes or the like for receiving cable and satellite television, and there were other devices in the market ("such as hard-disk recorders (e.g., TIVO)") that "provided consumers with functionality never before thought possible." (Id., col. 1:20-24) When creating "more advanced features [, ]" companies placed greater emphasis on the "personal preferences of the individual consumer/user" and created devices allowing a user to "establish/update a user profile, which can be used [to] enhance [the] functionality of the device." (Id., col. 1:24-28) For example, a user could provide information about programs they prefer or networks they frequently watch, and this could be used by other entities to determine future programming. (See id., col. 1:29-32)

         However, according to the '863 patent, there was "currently no mechanism for populating or enhancing a user profile based on existing user profiles." (Id., col. 1:36-37) "For example, if user 'A' indicates that he/she prefers the crime drama genre of programs, no current mechanism exist[ed] for adopting specific crime drama programs from similar user profiles." (Id., col. 1:37-41) Part of the problem in providing such functionality was the "lack of efficient means for comparing and populating user profiles [;]" given the vast quantity of available unorganized user profiles, it was "both time consuming and impractical []" to "compare a new user profile to such existing profiles[.]" (Id., col. 1:41-46)

         Thus, the patent explains, there was a need for an invention that would: (1) "populat[e] a new user profile based on existing user profiles [;]" (2) group existing user profiles "into Vor[o]noi cluster regions based on the characteristics thereof[;]" (3) associate that new user profile with the appropriate cluster region so that the characteristics of the existing user profiles could be used to create the new user profile; and (4) make "recommendations . . . based on [the] populated new user profile." (Id., col. 1:47-56) The '863 purports to have addressed these needs. (See id., col. 2:40-42)

         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 were also set out in the March 8, 2019 MO. (Id. at 4-11)

         III. DISCUSSION

         In resolving Defendants' Motion, the Court will first discuss which claims will be addressed herein. Thereafter, it will analyze these claims under both steps of the test for patent eligibility set out in ...


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