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T-Rex Property AB v. Regal Entertainment Group

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Tyler Division

September 27, 2019

T-REX PROPERTY AB,
v.
REGAL ENTERTAINMENT GROUP. T-REX PROPERTY AB,
v.
CLEAR CHANNNEL OUTDOOR HOLDINGS, INC; CLEAR TV MEDIA USA, INC.; and MONSTER VISION, LLC D/B/A/ MONSTER MEDIA.

          ORDER ADOPTING-IN-PART REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          JEREMY D. KERNODLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This case was referred to United States Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636. Judge Mitchell has presented for consideration a Report and Recommendation (Docket No. 152, the “Report”), which contains her findings, conclusions, and recommendations regarding the invalidity portion of Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 130). The Report recommends granting-in-part and denying-in-part the motion. Both Plaintiff T-Rex and Defendants Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, Inc.; Clear TV Media USA, Inc.; and Monster Vision, LLC filed written objections (Docket Nos. 154; 156).[1] Having reviewed the briefing on the motion, the Report, and the written objections, and for the reasons explained below, the Court ADOPTS-IN-PART the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation (Docket No. 152), GRANTS summary judgment of invalidity as to claims 25 and 26 of U.S. Patent No. RE39, 470 (“the ’470 Patent”) and claim 22 of U.S. Patent No. 7, 382, 334 (“the ’334 Patent”), and DENIES summary judgment of invalidity as to claim 32 of the ’334 Patent and claims 13, 42, and 43 of U.S. Patent No. 6, 430, 603 (“the ’603 Patent”).

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This Court reviews objected-to portions of the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation de novo. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (“A judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.”). In conducting a de novo review, the Court examines the entire record and makes an independent assessment under the law. Douglass v. United Servs. Auto. Ass’n, 79 F.3d 1415, 1430 (5th Cir. 1996) (en banc), superseded on other grounds by statute, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (extending the time to file objections from ten to fourteen days).

         II. PARTY OBJECTIONS

         The Report recommends granting summary judgment of invalidity on claim 25 of the ’470 Patent on § 101 grounds and granting summary judgment of invalidity on claim 22 of the ’334 Patent for indefiniteness. The Report further recommends denying summary judgment on claim 26 of the ’470 Patent and claim 32 of the ’334 Patent because Defendant Clear Channel failed to show that claim 25 is representative of these claims and denying summary judgment on the asserted claims of the ’603 Patent because they are directed to patent-eligible subject matter.

         Defendant Clear Channel objects to the Magistrate Judge’s findings that: (1) it failed to show that claim 25 of the ’470 Patent is representative of claim 26 of the ’470 Patent and claim 32 of the ’334 Patent; and (2) the asserted claims of the ’603 Patent are directed to patent-eligible subject matter.

         Plaintiff T-Rex objects to the Magistrate Judge’s recommendation to grant summary judgment as to claim 25 of the ’470 Patent and claim 22 of the ’334 Patent. Specifically, T-Rex contends that the Magistrate Judge’s analysis of claim 25 was flawed in both steps of the two-step § 101 analysis. See Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l., 573 U.S. 208 (2014). T-Rex also objects to the recommendation to grant summary judgment that claim 22 is invalid due to indefiniteness “solely in order to preserve error for appeal.” Docket No. 154 at 6.

         A. Claim Representativeness

         The Magistrate Judge recommends denying summary judgment as to claim 26 of the ’470 Patent and claim 32 of the ’334 Patent because Clear Channel failed to show that claim 25 of the ’470 Patent is representative of the other two claims. Relying on representativeness, Clear Channel presented substantive arguments based only on claim 25 of the ’470 Patent, making no independent arguments for invalidity of claim 26 of the ’470 Patent or claim 32 of the ’334 Patent.

         Acknowledging that the Magistrate Judge did not have the benefit of Chief Judge Gilstrap’s recent Memorandum Opinion and Order on this issue, the Court finds PPS Data, LLC v. Jack Henry & Associates, Inc., No. 2:18-cv-7-JRG, Docket No. 156, at 5-18 (E.D. Tex. Sept. 6, 2019) instructive here. PPS Data notes “that the Federal Circuit has never expressly addressed the legal framework for addressing disputes about representative claims.” Id. at 5. Accordingly, Chief Judge Gilstrap proposes a burden-shifting framework for analyzing representativeness.

         Under the PPS Data framework, “[t]he party asserting invalidity may overcome the presumption of independent validity by offering a substantial rationale for treating a claim as representative of other asserted claims.” Id. at 7. Once the party challenging validity has made “a prima facie case demonstrating representativeness, ” the burden shifts to the patentee to identify limitations in the asserted claims that are not represented by the allegedly representative claim. Id. at 9. “Unless a court finds the issue of representativeness to be clear, it should conduct-and require the parties to conduct-an individualized analysis of the claims at issue.” Id. at 11.

         Clear Channel argues that claim 25 of the ’470 Patent is representative of claim 26 of the ’470 Patent and claim 32 of the ’334 Patent because the claims “are substantively similar and directed to the same abstract idea.” Docket No. 130 at 24 n.2. Clear Channel explains that in the ’470 Patent, claim 26 merely rewrites method claim 25 as a system claim “by adding a handful of generic computer components configured to implement the same abstract idea recited in [c]laim 25.” Id. On the ’334 Patent, Clear Channel argues that unasserted claim 22 is a method claim that simply rearranges the steps of claim 25 of the ’470 Patent and that asserted claim 32 of the ’334 Patent rewrites claim 22’s method as an “arrangement for coordinating and controlling electric displays.” Id. Clear Channel contends that adding generic computer components or rearranging the claimed steps does not change the fundamental abstract nature of the claims. Id.

         1. ’470 ...


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