United States District Court, S.D. New York
For DietGoal Innovations LLC, Plaintiff: Christopher Michael Joe, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brian Andrew Carpenter, Eric William Buether, Mark Davin Perantie, Monica Nguyen Tavakoli, Niknaz Forughi Bukovcan, Buether Joe & Carpenter, LLC, Dallas, TX; Damon Michael Young, Young Pickett & Lee, Texarkana, TX; Steven War, McNeely Hare & War LLP, Washington, DC.
For Bravo Media LLC (Division of NBC Universal Media, LLC), Defendant, Counter Claimant: Dabney Jefferson Carr, IV, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP (VA), Richmond, VA; John Christopher Carraway, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Klarquist Sparkman LLP, Portland, OR; Harrison Scott Kelly, Troutman Sanders LLP (Richmond), Richmond, VA; Robert Armistead Angle, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA.
For DietGoal Innovations LLC, Counter Defendant: Christopher Michael Joe, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brian Andrew Carpenter, Eric William Buether, Mark Davin Perantie, Monica Nguyen Tavakoli, Niknaz Forughi Bukovcan, Buether Joe & Carpenter, LLC, Dallas, TX; Steven War, McNeely Hare & War LLP, Washington, DC.
OPINION & ORDER
Paul A. Engelmayer, United States District Judge.
This is one of several patent-infringement actions brought by Plaintiff DietGoal Innovations LLC (" DietGoal" ) against various defendants, concerning alleged infringement on DietGoal's '516 Patent, which claims a computerized method and system for diet-related behavior analysis, training, and planning. Before the Court now are two motions for summary judgment filed by defendant Bravo Media LLC (" Bravo" ): one on the ground that the '516 Patent is drawn to patent-ineligible subject matter, and thus is invalid under § 101 of the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. § 101; and the other on the ground that Bravo did not infringe on the '516 patent. For the reasons that follow, the '516 patent claims the abstract idea of meal planning, and thus is invalid under § 101. Bravo's motion for summary judgment on that ground is, therefore, granted.
A. The Parties
DietGoal is a limited liability company based in Austin, Texas, which, inter alia, buys and holds the rights to patents. Am. Compl. ¶ 1. Relevant here, DietGoal " is the exclusive licensee of the '516 patent and possesses all rights to sue for and recover all past, present and future damages for infringement of the '516 patent." Id. ¶ 8.
Bravo is a division of NBC Universal, a media company incorporated under the laws of Delaware, with its principal place of business in New York. Id. ¶ 2. Bravo operates a television station by the same name, which features original programming, including cooking competition shows such as " Top Chef." Bravo also operates a website, http://www.bravotv.com, which at one time contained a user interface that allowed visitors to search for recipes featured on Bravo television shows, http://bravotv.com/foodies/recipes. See Bravo § 112 56.1 ¶ 21.
B. The '516 Patent
U.S. Patent No. 6,585,516, entitled " Method and System for Computerized Visual Behavior Analysis, Training, and Planning," was originally issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (the " PTO" ) to inventor Oliver Alabaster on July 1, 2003. Dkt. 130 Ex. 1 (the " '516 Patent" ). The '516 Patent claims " [a] system and method for computerized visual behavior analysis, training, and planning," for the purpose of modifying diet behavior. As originally issued, the '516 Patent recited four independent claims (Claims 1, 2, 12, and 13) and 14 dependent claims (Claims 3-11 and 14-18). See id.; see also Bravo § 112 56.1 ¶ ¶ 2, 3. On October 2, 2013, the PTO issued a reexamination certificate for the '516 Patent, which confirmed the patentability of Claims 1-18 of the '516 Patent and added new Claims 19-61. See '516 Patent; Bravo § 112 56.1 ¶ 20.
Specifically, the system claims (Claims 1 and 2) of the '516 Patent disclose:
1. A system of computerized meal planning, comprising:
a User Interface;
a Database of food objects organizable into meals; and
at least one Picture Menus, which displays on the User Interface meals from the Database that a user can select from to meet customized eating goal.
2. A system of computerized meal planning, comprising:
a User Interface;
a Database of food objects; and
a Meal Builder, which displays on the User Interface meals from the Database, and wherein a user can change content of said meals and view the resulting meals' impact on customized eating goals.
The " summary of the invention" portion of the '516 Patent elaborates that the system " include[s] a User Interface (UI), a Meal Database, a Food Database, Picture Menus, and a Meal Builder." The User Interface can " receive commands from the user and display results to the user from the Picture Menus and Meal Builder." The Meal and Food Databases contain " pre-set meals comprising combinations of foods that conform to predetermined characteristics," which can be modified according to the user's preferences and tendencies. The Picture Menus, which " display on the User Interface meals from the Database," allow the user to " mix and match [meals to] meet customized eating goals." Then, using the Meal Builder, users can " change [those meals] and view the meals' impact on customized eating goals." In other words, the Meal Builder " can be a scoring system that allows the user to view, in real time, the impact of food choices on customized eating goals, and the accumulated impact on daily nutrition allowance made by saved meals and snacks throughout the day."
The method claims (Claims 12 and 13) disclose:
12. A method of computerized planning that can influence behavior, comprising: preparing a Database of food objects;
allowing a user to choose meals from one or more Picture Menus, which display on a User Interface meals comprised from the food objects from the Database that the user can mix and match to meet customized eating goals, for a particular amount of time; and
allowing a user to save the meals.
13. A method of computerized planning that can influence behavior, comprising: preparing a Database of food objects;
allowing the user to decide whether or not to change one or more meals comprising food objects; and
if the user decides to change one or more of the meals, allowing the user to change the meals using a Meal Builder, which displays on the User Interface the food objects from the meals from the Database, corresponding to the Picture Menus, where the user can change and view the meals' impact on customized eating goals.
The " method" of computerized meal planning, as elaborated in the Patent, " can include the following steps" : " First, the Meal Database and Food Database can be prepared. Second, the user can choose meals for a particular day. Third, the user can decide whether or not to change one or more of the meals he has chosen for the particular day. If the user decides to change his chosen meals, the user can edit or create new meals using the Meal Builder. If the user decides not to change his choices, or after the user changes his choices, the user can save the meals for the particular day."
C. Procedural History
On June 13, 2012, DietGoal commenced this action in the Eastern District of Texas. Dkt. 1. It alleged that Bravo infringed on one or more claims of the '516 Patent, as well as on one or more claims in the reexamination certificate relating to the '516 Patent, in violation of 35 U.S.C. § 271, by making and/or using a computerized meal planning interface and meal builder function on its website, http://bravotv.com/foodies/recipes. See id. At the time, this was one of more than 22 cases that DietGoal had filed in five districts alleging infringement of the '516 Patent.
On September 17, 2012, Bravo moved to transfer this action to this District. Dkt. 20. On April 9, 2013, the action was transferred ...