United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER RE: DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON
THE PLEADINGS ; DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO STAY ;
AND DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED ANSWER
HONORABLE RONALD S.W. LEW Senior U.S. District Judge
before the Court are three Motions by Defendant Los Angeles
County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s
(“Defendant”): (1) Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) 
(“Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings”); (2)
Motion to Stay  the case pending the outcome of an
inter partes review (“IPR”) proceeding
that Defendant filed with the United States Patent and
Trademark Office (“PTO”), challenging all
asserted claims of the patent-in-suit (“Motion to
Stay”); and (3) Motion for Leave to File Amended Answer
 (“Motion to File Amended Answer”).
reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to these Motions,
the Court NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS:
(1) The Court DENIES the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
 WITHOUT PREJUDICE;
(2) The Court GRANTS the Motion to Stay , and STAYS the
proceedings pending the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s
(“PTAB”) determination in IPR; and
(3) The Court VACATES WITHOUT PREJUDICE the Motion to File
Amended Answer . Defendant may renew its Motion to File
Amended Answer if necessary.
Transport Technologies, LLC (“Plaintiff”) is a
California limited liability company which owns the
‘101 Patent, entitled “Motor Vehicle Occupancy
Signaling System.” Compl. ¶¶ 5-6, ECF No. 1.
The ‘101 Patent’s abstract describes the
invention as follows:
A system that allows a claim by a registrant as to the number
of occupants traveling in a vehicle over a section of highway
with a high occupancy vehicle incentive program in place to
be transmitted. The registrant is identified by a registrant
identifier. The claim about occupancy is optionally visually
displayed as the vehicle traverses the highway. The
identification of the registrant making the claim is captured
by a plurality of reading devices along the highway and
transferred to a central processing system. That system
determines if a qualified ride-sharing event has occurred,
and if so it will then provide for distribution of the
program incentives to the registered individual(s).
Id. at Abstract.
is the public transportation agency for the County of Los
Angeles. Id. at ¶ 2. Defendant operates high
occupancy/toll lanes on the I-110 and I-10 freeways known as
“ExpressLanes.” Id. at ¶ 7. Drivers
wishing to use the ExpressLanes are required to carry a
“FasTrak” transponder in their cars. Id.
The FasTrak transponder includes a switch that may be set to
indicate that a car contains 1, 2, or 3 or more passengers.
Id. At various points on the ExpressLanes, Defendant
controls and operates a series of wireless readers and
communications infrastructure that communicates with FasTrak
transponders to receive claims about car occupancy, and
transfers that information to Defendant’s data
processing facilities. Id. at ¶ 8. Defendant
uses the information it receives to charge drivers for their
use of the ExpressLanes. Id.
alleges that Defendant’s operation of the ExpressLanes
infringes claims 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 10 of the ‘101
Patent. Id. at ¶ 11.
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, Defendant argues that
the claims at issue are directed to patent-ineligible subject
matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.
claim 6 of the ‘101 Patent recites:
A method of receiving claimed vehicle occupancy data about a
vehicle by a registrant, and also identifying the registrant
as the vehicle traverses a designated section of highway,
said method comprising the steps of:
transmitting the number of occupants in a vehicle claimed by
a registrant; transmitting a signal from the vehicle that
identifies the registrant; and then receiving the claim by a
registrant as to number of occupants in a vehicle and reading
the signal from the vehicle that identifies the registrant as
the vehicle transits the designated section of highway.
claim 8 of the ‘101 Patent recites:
The method of claim 6 further comprising the transmission of
number of occupants claimed by a registrant by a transponder
that transmits a signal both identifying the registrant and
the number of occupants claimed by that registrant.
claim 10 of the ‘101 Patent recites:
The method of claim 8 further comprising a visual display of
the claimed number of occupants, which display can be seen by
an enforcement officer outside the vehicle as it traverses
characterizes the method claims 6, 8, and 10 as
representative of the system claims 1, 3, and 5 because the
claims “contain only minor differences in terminology
but require performance of the same basic process.”
Mot. J. Pleadings 19:18-21, ECF No. 50 (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted).
claim 1 of the ‘101 Patent recites:
A vehicle occupancy monitoring system wherein a claim is made
by a registrant about the number of occupants in a vehicle as
it traverses a designated section of highway:
a transmitter that transmits a claim as to the number of
occupants in the vehicle;
a sending transponder in the vehicle that transmits a code
that uniquely identifies the registrant with the program
a reading data collector that can interrogate a vehicle
within its range, and receive, store and transfer to a
central processing facility said transmitted code identifying