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Maxon, LLC v. Funai Corporation, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

May 23, 2017

MAXON, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
FUNAI CORPORATION, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Gary Feinerman, Judge

         Maxon, LLC brought this suit against Funai Corporation, Inc., alleging infringement of four patents teaching electronic means of increasing user control over subscription entertainment content. Doc. 1. This suit has been coordinated for pretrial proceedings with four others brought by Maxon alleging infringement of the same patents. Doc. 13; see Maxon, LLC v. LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc., 16 C 6840 (N.D. Ill. filed June 29, 2016); Maxon, LLC v On Corp US, Inc., 16 C 6841 (N.D. Ill. filed June 29, 2016); Maxon, LLC v. Panasonic Corp. of N. Am., 16 C 6843 (N.D. Ill. filed June 29, 2016); Maxon, LLC v. Vizio, Inc., 16 C 6846 (N.D. Ill. filed June 29, 2016). Funai has moved to dismiss this suit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on the ground that the patents are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101, as interpreted by Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International, 134 S.Ct. 2347 (2014). Doc. 21. The motion is granted.

         Background

         In resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the court assumes the truth of the complaint's well-pleaded factual allegations, though not its legal conclusions. See Zahn v. N. Am. Power & Gas, LLC, 815 F.3d 1082, 1087 (7th Cir. 2016). The court must also consider “documents attached to the complaint, documents that are critical to the complaint and referred to in it, and information that is subject to proper judicial notice, ” along with additional facts set forth in Maxon's brief opposing dismissal, so long as those additional facts “are consistent with the pleadings.” Phillips v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 714 F.3d 1017, 1020 (7th Cir. 2013). The facts are set forth as favorably to Maxon as those materials allow. See Pierce v. Zoetis, 818 F.3d 274, 277 (7th Cir. 2016).

         Maxon is the exclusive owner of the four asserted patents: U.S. Patents 8, 989, 160 (‘160), 7, 489, 671 (‘671), 7, 486, 649 (‘649), and 7, 171, 194 (‘194). Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 7, 10, 13, 16. The complaint identifies a representative claim for each patent. Id. at ¶¶ 9, 12, 15, 18. Maxon alleges that the claims are directed to technology supporting “Smart TVs, ” meaning televisions with the capacity to connect to the internet and interact with streaming services such as Netflix. Ibid. These are the four representative claims:

‘160 Claim 8: An audio-video device capable of sharing services with a plurality of other devices within a personal network, the audio-video device comprising:
a computer-readable medium having storage for a first address corresponding to the audio-video device, a second address corresponding to the personal network, and a third address corresponding to a service provider network;
input/output logic configured to receive from a user a desired change to a service capable of being provisioned to the audio-video device from at least one service available generally to the personal network;
a processor in communication with the computer-readable medium and the input/output logic, the processor programmed to prepare an inbound signaling word comprising at least the first address and payload data representing the desired change to the service capable of being provisioned to the audio-video device from the personal network; and
a transceiver providing the inbound signaling word to the service provider network where the service provider network comprises logic to process the inbound signaling word including modifying stored information in a subscriber database to effect the desired change to the service capable of being provisioned to the audio-video device from the personal network, the transceiver further receiving an outbound signaling word comprising the first address corresponding to the audio-video device and data indicating the desired change to the personal network, the outbound signaling word responsive to the desired change to the service capable of being provisioned to the audio-video device from the personal network.
‘671 Claim 6: A communications device capable of sharing a network number with other communications devices in a communications network, the communications device comprising:
a first computer-readable medium having stored thereon a first unique identifier that uniquely identifies the communications device within the communications network identified by the network number, where the first unique identifier that uniquely identifies the communications device is not a telephone number;
a management logic that manages a database containing routing information for an incoming communication directed at the communications network via the network number to be routed to a particular communications device within the communications network based on communications service content of the incoming communication, where the routing information relates the communications device to one or more communication services available to the communications network from a communications services provider by associating the first unique identifier that uniquely identifies the communications device to the one or more communication services; and
a processor that controls the management logic to update the database to reflect the addition of the communications device to the communications network, to disassociate in the database the one or more communications services from a second communications device if the one or more communication services are determined to be connected in the database to the second communications device, and to connect in the database the one or more communication services to the communications device by relating in the database the unique identifier that uniquely identifies the communications device and data representing the one or more communications services.
‘649 Claim 6: A communications device that shares a personal network number with other communications devices within a personal network, the ...

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