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Vaporstream, Inc. v. SNAP Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

February 27, 2018

VAPORSTREAM, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
SNAP INC. d/b/a/ Snapchat, Inc., Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DOC. NO. 74.]

          MARILYN L. HUFF, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         On August 22, 2017, Defendant Snap Inc. filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that the patents-in-suit are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. (Doc. No. 74.) On September 26, 2017, Plaintiff Vaporstream, Inc. filed an opposition to Defendant's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. No. 82.) On October 16, 2017, Snap filed its reply. (Doc. No. 84.) On October 18, 2017, Snap filed a notice of supplemental authority. (Doc. No. 86.) On February 9, 2018, Vaporstream filed a notice of supplemental authority. (Doc. No. 104.) On February 13, 2018, Snap filed a response to Vaporstream's February 9, 2018 notice of supplemental authority. (Doc. No. 105.) On February 14, 2018, Vaporstream filed a second notice of supplemental authority. (Doc. No. 106.) On February 22, 2018, Snap filed a second notice of supplemental authority. (Doc. No. 108.) On February 26, 2018, the Court took the matter under submission. (Doc. No. 113.) For the reasons below, the Court denies Defendant Snap's motion for summary judgment.

         Background

         On January 10, 2017, Plaintiff VaporStream filed a complaint for patent infringement against Defendant Snap, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 8, 886, 739, 8, 935, 351, 9, 306, 885, 9, 306, 886, 9, 313, 155, 9, 313, 156, 9, 313, 157, 9, 338, 111, and 9, 413, 711. (Doc. No. 1.) In the present action, Vaporstream has asserted 89 claims from nine patents against Snap. (Doc. No 54, Ex. C.)

         The patents-in-suit are closely related, claim priority to the same July 28, 2005 filing, and share a substantially identical specification.[1] (Doc. No. 23 at 2.) The patents-in-suit relate generally to systems and methods for “reducing traceability” of electronic messages. See '739 Patent at 1:46-2:8. The common Background section of the specification explains some perceived problems with conventional email messaging:

Typically, an electronic message between two people is not private. It may travel along a public network, such as the Internet, and be susceptible to interception by unintended third parties. Messages are also logged and archived by the communication systems themselves. They may also be copied, cut, pasted, printed, forwarded, blind copied, or otherwise manipulated. This may give a message a “shelf-life” that is often uncontrollable by the sender or even the recipient. Surreptitious logging (e.g., by keystroke and message recording software) may occur by third parties that have gained authorized access to either the computer of the sender and/or the recipient.

'739 Patent at 1:51-64.[2] To address these problems, the claimed inventions disclose systems and methods purporting to reduce the traceability of electronic messages. Id. at 3:48-4:6.

         Claim 1 of the '739 patent is an example of a “send side” asserted claim.[3] Claim 1 of the '739 patent claims:

         1. A computer-implemented method of handling an electronic message, the method comprising:

providing a first display and a second display at a sending user device, the first display configured to allow a sending user to associate a first message content including a media component with the electronic message, the second display configured to allow the sending user to input a first recipient address corresponding to the first message content, the first and second displays not being displayed at the same time;
displaying via the first display a first message content including a media component;
receiving via the second display a first recipient address, wherein the first message content including a media component and the first recipient address are not displayed to the sending user at the same time;
associating a message ID with the first message content including a media component, the message ID correlating the first recipient address and the first message content including a media component; and
transmitting the recipient address and the first message content including a media component from the sending user device to a server computer, the first message content including a media component being transmitted to the server computer separately from the recipient address, the first message content including a media component not being accessible by the sending user for display via the sending user device after said transmitting the media component to the server computer.

'739 Patent at 18:50-19:11.

         Claim 1 of the '351 patent is an example of a “receive side” asserted claim.[4] Claim 1 of the '351 patent claims:

         1. A computer-implemented method of handling an electronic message, the method comprising:

receiving at a recipient user device a first header information corresponding to a first message content that ...

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