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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

June 14, 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"), 7, 734, 680 (the "'680 patent") and 8, 321, 456 (the '"456 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 '456 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 '456 patent is entitled "Generating Metadata for Association with a Collection of Content Items[.]" (D.I. 1, ex. 4 (the "'456 patent")) The '456 patent has three independent claims (claims 1, 13 and 14) and 11 dependent claims. (Id., cols. 14:53-16:62) The "Field of the Invention" section of the patent states that the invention described therein relates to: (1) "a method of automatically generating metadata for association with a collection of content items accessible to a system for processing data included in the content items[, ]" (id., col. 1:7-10); (2) "a system for automatically generating metadata for association with a collection of content items[, ]" (id., col. 1:11-13); and (3) "a computer program[J" (id., col. 1:15).

         By way of providing an example of how the disclosed invention can be useful, the '456 patent begins by describing how it can be beneficial in the context of visual image content evaluation. The patent explains that at the time of the invention, groups of visual images in a collection of such images could be annotated in various ways. (Id., col. 1:26-27) This could be done by: (1) identifying an image representation for each of the groups; (2) determining the similarity of each of the image representations to each of the other image representations; and (3) annotating the groups of visual images based on the similarity of each image representation to the other image representations. (Id., col. 1:27-32) For example, the image representation for one group could be an average of one or more image characteristics for all visual images of the group. (Id., col. 1:32-35)

         The '456 patent explains, however, that an existing problem with such a method was that the average value of an image characteristic "is often not meaningful." (Id., col. 1:36-37) In particular, it notes that for large groups of images, the average value of an image characteristic will "tend to be the median value of the range of possible values of the characteristic . . . mak[ing] the annotation less suitable for browsing and searching hierarchically organized visual images." (Id., col. 1:36-42) The invention then purports to provide a "method, system and computer program . . . that are suitable for generation, with a minimum of human intervention, or none at all, of an efficient representation of collections of content items for rapid location of such collections by a system for processing the content items." (Id., col. 1:46-52) The patent explains that by "processing [a] selected attribute value(s) to generate the metadata for association with the collection [of content items], a more efficient representation is obtained, compared, for example, to selection of a representative content item or an exhaustive list of all the content items' metadata." (Id., col. 2:4-8)

         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 specifically addressed herein. Thereafter, it will analyze the relevant claims under both steps of the test for patent eligibility set out in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Banklnt'l, 134 S.Ct. 2347 (2014).

         A. Claims at Issue

         In its Complaint, Plaintiff alleged infringement of "at least claim 1 of the '456 patent[.]" (D.I. 1 at ¶ 97) In their opening brief, Defendants addressed each of the patent's 14 claims and moved that all of these claims be found ineligible. (D.I. 11 at 29) Plaintiff, in its answering brief, then made specific reference only to the content of independent claim 1 and dependent claims 5 and 6, in explaining why all of the patent's claims were patent eligible. (D.I. 14 at 24- 28; see also D.I. 16 at 29) In light of this, the Court will address only these three claims herein, understanding that Plaintiffs arguments for eligibility as to all of the patent's claims rise and fall on the arguments it made with regard to these particular ...


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