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Slot Speaker Technologies, Inc. v. Apple, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 6, 2017

SLOT SPEAKER TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
APPLE, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT APPLE, INC.'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND ITS INVALIDITY CONTENTIONS RE: DKT. NO. 242

          Donna M. Ryu, Judge

         Defendant Apple, Inc. (“Apple”) moves to amend its invalidity contentions to address the Honorable Haywood S. Gilliam's construction of the term “narrow sound duct.” [Docket No. 242]; see also November 4, 2016 Claim Construction Order (“Claim Construction Order”) at 12 [Docket No. 206]. Plaintiff Slot Speaker Technologies, Inc. (“SST”) opposes. [Docket No. 255]. The court held oral argument on March 23, 2017. Having considered the parties' briefing and oral argument, Apple's motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual & Procedural History

         The factual allegations in this case have been summarized in earlier orders, so the court will not repeat them in detail here. Briefly, SST filed a patent infringement suit against Apple alleging that Apple's products, which include the iPhone 4 and later models, as well as its iPad and iMac products, infringe SST's patents by incorporating narrow-profile speaker units that output sound through a duct or aperture having a narrow dimension. First Amended Complaint (“FAC”), ¶¶ 10, 14 [Docket No. 12].

         On September 24, 2015, Apple served its Initial Invalidity Contentions. See Apple's Initial Invalidity Contentions [Ex. 1 to Docket No. 90]; see also Capuyan Decl., ¶ 22.[1] [Docket No. 242-1].

         On November 6, 2015, SST served its Patent Local Rule 4-2 Preliminary Claim Constructions. See THX (now SST) PLR 4-2 Preliminary Claim Constructions (“Rule 4-2 Preliminary Claim Constructions”) [Ex. A to Smith Decl.]. SST proposed construing the term “narrow sound duct” as a “duct that is narrow in relation to the wavelength of the sound to be reproduced.” Id. at 2.

         On December 9, 2015, the parties filed their Joint Claim Construction Statement. SST's proposed construction of the term “narrow sound duct” remained unchanged from its November 2015 Rule 4-2 Preliminary Claim Constructions. See Joint Claim Statement at 2 [Docket No. 58]. (“Plaintiff's Construction” of a “narrow sound duct:” “a duct that is narrow in relation to the wavelength of the sound to be reproduced”).

         In February and March 2016, the parties submitted their claim construction briefs. See Docket Nos. 74, 84, 88. SST's proposed construction of the term “narrow sound duct” remained unchanged. See THX's (now SST's) Opening Claim Construction Brief at 6-11 [Docket No. 74]; THX (SST's) Reply Claim Construction Brief at 4-6 [Docket No. 88].

         On May 25, 2016, Judge Gilliam held a claim construction hearing, during which SST continued to advance its construction of the term “narrow sound duct” as a “duct that is narrow in relation to the wavelength of sound to be reproduced.” See generally 5/25/16 Hearing Tx. at 45:21-63:24 [Ex. B to Smith Decl.].

         On November 4, 2016, Judge Gilliam issued the claim construction order, in which he adopted SST's proposed construction of the term “narrow sound duct” without modification. See Claim Construction Order at 12 (“As such, the Court construes ‘narrow sound duct' as ‘a duct that is narrow in relation to the wavelength of the sound to be reproduced.'”).

         On November 22, 2016, Apple notified SST that it might seek leave to amend its invalidity contentions under Patent L.R. 3-6(a) in light of the claim construction order. See 11/22/16 Joint Case Management Statement at 5 [Docket No. 215].

         Shortly thereafter, Apple confirmed its intent to seek leave to amend on December 7, 2016, and provided SST with its proposed amendments on December 21, 2016. Over the next three weeks, Apple tried to secure SST's ...


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