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Supercell Oy v. GREE, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 3, 2018

Supercell Oy, Plaintiff,
v.
GREE, Inc., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER RE: MOTION TO DISMISS RE: DKT. NO. 26

          YVONNE GONZALEZ ROGERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Supercell Oy (“Supercell”) brings this patent infringement action against defendants GREE, Inc.; GREE International Entertainment, Inc.; GREE International, Inc.; and Funzio Games, Inc. (collectively “GREE”) alleging that defendants infringed two of plaintiff's patents, namely U.S. Patent No. 9, 106, 449 (the “‘449 Patent”) and U.S. Patent No. 9, 104, 520 (the “‘520 Patent”). Now before the Court is defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's claims pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6) on the ground that the asserted patents are not patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

         Having carefully reviewed the pleadings, the papers and exhibits submitted on this motion, the parties' arguments at the hearing held on February 13, 2018, and for the reasons set forth more fully below, the Court Grants defendants' motion to dismiss with regard to the ‘449 Patent and Denies the motion with regard to the ‘520 Patent.

         I. Patents at Issue

         A. The ‘449 Patent

         The ‘449 Patent is titled “Method, Apparatus and System for Obtaining Logon Information.” (See Complaint, Ex. A, ‘449 Patent.) The specification describes a “method, apparatus, and system” for transferring logon information between a “value-added service such as an online game” (the “game client”) and Instant Messaging client (the “IM client”) via a “function plug-in.” (‘449 Patent at 1:16-18, 27-28; Figs. 2, 3.)

         In order to access an online game a user must first logon through an IM client. (‘449 Patent at 1:33-42.) The conventional logon method required a “communication process” which was “pre-configured” between the game client and IM client. (Id. at 2:18-24.) This meant that any upgrade to the game client had to coincide with a simultaneous upgrade to the corresponding IM client so that a new communication process could be pre-configured between the two clients. As a result, “if a new game client [was] issued, the new game client [could] not communicate with IM client because no communication process [was] created between the new game client and the IM client.” (Id. at 2:24-27.) The “new game client [could] not log on the game server until a communication process [was] created between the new game client and the IM, for example, until the version of the IM client [was] upgraded.”[1] (Id. at 2:27-31.)

         The ‘449 Patent purports to solve this problem by placing a “function plug-in” between the game client and IM client. Thus, independent claim 1 recites:

A method for obtaining logon information, comprising:
obtaining, by Instant Messaging (IM) client of a user, logon
information which comprises a user account of the user when the user logs on the IM client;
sending, by value- added service client of the user, a request for logon information when the user started the value-added service client;
receiving, by function plug-in, the request for logon information from the value-added service client;
sending, by the function plug-in, the request for the logon information to the IM client;
returning, by the IM client, the logon information of the user to the function plug-in;
sending, by the function plug-in, the logon information to the value-added service client; and
sending, by the value-added service client, the logon information of the user obtained from the IM client to value-added service server to log on the value-added service center.

(Id. at 7:13-34 (emphasis supplied).) The patent further recites that the function plug-in sends requests for logon information to and receives logon information from an IM client through a “common interface.” (Id. at Fig. 3.) This enables the game client to obtain logon information from the IM client via the function plug-in and ultimately log on to the game server to start a game. (Id. at 4:43-47; Fig. 3.)

         Five claims depend on claim 1 (2 through 6) and add further limitations such as where: (i) “the request for the logon information is sent to the IM client through a common interface . . . and the logon information is received from the IM client through the common interface[;]; (ii) “the common interface is configured by the IM client[;]” (iii) the request for logon information is received from the value-added service client; and (iv) “loading the function plug-in before receiving the request for logon information from the [game] client.” (Id. at 7:34-8:7.)

         Additionally, the ‘449 Patent contains one other independent claim, namely claim 7, which describes:

A system for obtaining logon information, comprising:
a value-added service client, adapted to send a request for logon information when a user starts the value-added service client, receive the logon information which comprises a user account of the user from a function plug-in, and send the logon information of the user to a value-added service server to log on the value-added service server;
the function plug-in, adapted to receive the request for the logon information from the value-added service client and send the request for the logon information to ~ Instant Messaging (IM) client; receive the logon information from the IM client; send the logon information to the value-added service client;
the IM client, adapted to obtain logon information of the user when the user logs on the IM client, receive the request for the logon information from the function plug-in, and send the logon information to the function plug-in.

(Id. at 8:8-25.) Claim 7 has seven dependent claims (8 through 14). (Id. at 8:26-46.)

         The ‘449 Patent states that placement of a function plug-in between the game client and IM client enables the game client to “obtain the logon information easily, flexibly and conveniently.” (Id. at 3:30-42.) Further, the method described in the ‘449 patents purport to improve “expansibility of the IM client” because the function plug-in can communicate with “various different IM clients” so long as the IM client is capable of providing a common interface. (Id. at 3:22-48.) Therefore, when a game client is updated there is no need to develop a corresponding update for the IM client. (Id. 3:47-50.)

         B. The ...


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