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In re Tli Communs. LLC Patent Litigation

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

February 6, 2015

IN RE: TLI COMMUNICATIONS LLC PATENT LITIGATION. This document relates to ALL member cases

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Tli Communications LLC, Plaintiff: Brian E. Farnan, LEAD ATTORNEY, Farnan LLP, Wilmington, DE USA; Charles Wizenfeld, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Mishcon de Reya New York LLP, New York, N.Y. USA; Eric Berger, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Mishcon de Reya New York LLP, New York, N.Y. USA; John Isaac Post, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Philip J.Harvey PLLC, Alexandria, VA USA; Mark S. Raskin, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Mishcon de Reya New York LLP, New York, N.Y. USA; Michael Salvatore DeVincenzo, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Mishcon de Reya New York LLP, New York, N.Y. USA; Michael J. Farnan, LEAD ATTORNEY, Farnan LLP, Wilmington, DE USA; Philip John Harvey, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Philip J.Harvey PLLC, Alexandria, VA USA; Robert A. Whitman, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Mishcon de Reya New York LLP, New York, N.Y. USA; Vincent Filardo, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Mishcon de Reya New York LLP, New York, N.Y. USA.

For Av Automotive, L.L.C., Defendant: Joshua Bryson Brady, LEAD ATTORNEY, Williams Mullen (McLean), Mclean, VA USA; Martin William Hayes, LEAD ATTORNEY, Williams Mullen PC (McLean), Mclean, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Apple Inc., Defendant: Ahmed Jamal Davis, Daniel Robert Gopenko, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Fish & Richardson PC (DC), Washington, DC USA; Cherylyn Esoy Mizzo, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Fish & Richardson PC (DC-NA), Washington, DC USA; John Wesley Samples, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Fish & Richardson PC (DC-NA), Washington, DC USA; Lauren Ann Degnan, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Fish & Richardson PC (DC-NA), Washington, DC USA; Linhong Zhang, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Fish & Richardson PC (DC-NA), Washington, DC USA; Ruffin B. Cordell, LEAD ATTORNEY, Fish & Richardson, Washington, DC USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Hall Automotive, LLC, Defendant: Joshua Bryson Brady, Martin William Hayes, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Williams Mullen PC (McLean), Mclean, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Yahoo! Inc., Defendant: Mary Catherine Zinsner, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP (Tysons Corner), Tysons Corner, VA USA; Megan Conway Rahman, Robert Armistead Angle, Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Ryan Marshall Kent, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Tumblr, Inc., Defendant: Mary Catherine Zinsner, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP (Tysons Corner), Tysons Corner, VA USA; Megan Conway Rahman, Robert Armistead Angle, Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Ryan Marshall Kent, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Twitter, Inc., Defendant: Mary Catherine Zinsner, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP (Tysons Corner), Tysons Corner, VA USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Ryan Marshall Kent, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Google, Inc., Defendant: Andrew Vincent Trask, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Williams & Connolly LLP, Washington, DC USA; Bryant Hall, LEAD ATTORNEY, Williams & Connolly LLP, Washington, DC USA; Kevin Hardy, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Williams & Connolly LLP, Washington, DC USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, LEAD ATTORNEY, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA; Samuel Bryant Davidoff, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Williams & Connolly LLP, Washington, DC USA; Stephen Edward Noona, LEAD ATTORNEY, Kaufman & Canoles, P.C., Norfolk, VA USA.

For Pinterest, Inc., Defendant: Mary Catherine Zinsner, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP (Tysons Corner), Tysons Corner, VA USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Ryan Marshall Kent, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Facebook, Inc., Defendant: Heidi Lyn Keefe, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Cooley LLP (CA-NA), Palo Alto, CA USA; Jonathan Garwood Graves, LEAD ATTORNEY, Cooley LLP (VA), Reston Town Center, Reston, VA USA; Laura Jane Cunningham, LEAD ATTORNEY, Cooley LLP (VA), Reston, VA USA; Mark Randolph Weinstein, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Cooley LLP (CA-NA), Palo Alto, CA USA; Michael Graham Rhodes, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Cooley LLP (CA N/A), San Francisco, CA USA; Phillip Edward Morton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Cooley LLP (VA), Reston, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Instagram, LLC, Defendant: Heidi Lyn Keefe, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Cooley LLP (CA-NA), Palo Alto, CA USA; Jonathan Garwood Graves, LEAD ATTORNEY, Cooley LLP (VA), Reston Town Center, Reston, VA USA; Laura Jane Cunningham, LEAD ATTORNEY, Cooley LLP (VA), Reston, VA USA; Mark Randolph Weinstein, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Cooley LLP (CA-NA), Palo Alto, CA USA; Michael Graham Rhodes, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Cooley LLP (CA N/A), San Francisco, CA USA; Phillip Edward Morton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Cooley LLP (VA), Reston, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Dropbox Inc., Defendant:Jack B. Blumenfeld, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Ryan Marshall Kent, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Iac/Interactivecorp, Defendant:Jack B. Blumenfeld, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Ryan Marshall Kent, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Citygrid Media LLC, Defendant:Jack B. Blumenfeld, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Vimeo LLC, Defendant:Jack B. Blumenfeld, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Ryan Marshall Kent, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Imgur LLC, Defendant: Jack B. Blumenfeld, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Shutterfly Inc., Defendant: Jack B. Blumenfeld, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Ryan Marshall Kent, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Tripadvisor Inc., Defendant: Jack B. Blumenfeld, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Ryan Marshall Kent, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Tripadvisor LLC, Defendant: Jack B. Blumenfeld, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Ryan Marshall Kent, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Snapchat Inc., Defendant: Jack B. Blumenfeld, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Ryan Marshall Kent, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Whi Inc., Defendant: Jack B. Blumenfeld, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Ryan Marshall Kent, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Yelp Inc., Defendant: Jack B. Blumenfeld, LEAD ATTORNEY, Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Wilmington, DE USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Ryan Marshall Kent, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Durie Tangri LLP, San Francisco, CA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Capital One Financial Corporation, Defendant: Harrison Scott Kelly, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP (Richmond), Richmond, VA USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Capital One, N.A., Defendant: Harrison Scott Kelly, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP (Richmond), Richmond, VA USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

For Capital One Services, LLC, Defendant: Harrison Scott Kelly, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP (Richmond), Richmond, VA USA; Megan Conway Rahman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Robert Armistead Angle, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Stanley Wilson Hammer, LEAD ATTORNEY, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, VA USA; Raymond Kennon Poteat, III, Williams & Connolly LLP (DC), Washington, DC USA.

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MEMORANDUM OPINION

T. S. Ellis, III, United States District Judge.

The remaining, but still numerous, defendants[1] in this multidistrict litigation (" MDL" ) patent infringement action have filed a consolidated motion to dismiss that raises, inter alia, the following two important and potentially dispositive questions:

(1) Whether the patent at issue, United States Patent 6,038,295, titled an " Apparatus and Method for Recording, Communicating and Administering Digital Images" (hereinafter " '295 patent" ), is invalid because it claims patent-ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101; and
(2) Whether Claims 1 and 25 of the '295 patent contain means-plus-function terms, and if so, whether these claims are fatally indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112(f) for failing to disclose corresponding structure.

For the reasons that follow, defendants' motion to dismiss on § 101 and § 112(f) grounds must be granted:

(1) The '295 patent is directed to an abstract idea and lacks an inventive concept, making it ineligible for patent protection under § 101; and
(2) Claims 1 and 25 of the '295 patent contain means-plus-function terms without disclosing corresponding structure and these claims are therefore fatally indefinite pursuant to § 112(f).

I.

A.

Plaintiff TLI Communications LLC (" TLI" ), a Delaware limited liability corporation, is a non-producing entity and the owner by assignment of the '295 patent.[2] The twenty-three remaining defendants in this consolidated MDL action include various social media and software entities.[3]

The '295 patent, titled an " Apparatus and Method for Recording, Communicating and Administering Digital Images," is directed to an apparatus and method that

simplifies transmission of digital images which have been recorded, optimizes the communication of the image data and provides a method for administering the storage of the digital images, which is

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simple, fast and surveyable so that the digital images may be archived.

'295 patent, col.1, 1.66-col.2, 1.4. The '295 patent has 26 claims: 3 independent claims and 23 dependent claims. Independent Claim 1 is a system claim, independent Claim 17 is a method claim, and independent Claim 25 is an apparatus claim.

Independent Claim 1, a system claim, consists of;

A communication system for recording and administering digital images, comprising:
at least one telephone unit including:
a telephone portion for making telephone call,
a digital pick up unit for recording images,
a memory for storing digital images recorded by the digital image pick up unit,
means for allocating classification information prescribed by a user of said at least one telephone unit to characterize digital images obtained by said digital pick up unit, a processor for processing the digital images recorded by the digital image pick up unit;
a server including the following components:
a receiving unit for receiving data sent from said at least one telephone unit,
an analysis unit for analyzing the data received by the receiving unit from the telephone unit,
the data including classification information to characterize the digital images,
a memory in which at least the digital images are archived, the archiving taken [sic] into consideration the classifying information; and
a transmission system coupled to said at least one telephone unit and to the said server to provide for transmission of data from said at least one telephone unit and to the said server, the data including at least the digital images recorded by the digital image pick up unit and classification information.

The claimed communication system describes two components: (1) at least one telephone unit and (2) a server. The '295 patent specification describes the telephone unit as including the " standard features of a telephone unit including, for example, an earphone . . . a keypad . . . which serves as an operating field for the telephone unit . . . as well as a microphone . . ." '295 patent, col.5, 11.55-58. As Claim 1 indicates, the telephone unit consists of a digital pick up unit, a memory, a means for allocating classification information, and a processor. The digital image pick up unit is integrated into the telephone unit and operates as a " digital photo camera of the type which is known." id., col.5, 11.59-61, col.6, 11.1-2. Thus, " recording images" is the function of the digital image pick up unit, id., col.5, 1.59, These images may be compressed using " still picture image data compression methods" and are then stored using the telephone unit memory. Id., col.6, 11.2-6. Also stored with the digital images is classification information--information associated with the digital images[4]--which is allocated using " the allocation means." Id.,

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col.6, 11.46-47. The telephone unit also includes a data processor which processes the digital images and can be used for other processing tasks such as pattern recognition or voice recognition, Id., col.6, 11.8-12.

The second part of the communication system is the server which is comprised of a receiving unit for " receiving the data that is sent from the telephone unit," and an analysis unit, which serves to " analyze the image content and record the image according to the meaning derived from the image analysis." Id., col.5, 11.6-8, col.6, 1.65-col.7, 1.1. The data is sent from the telephone unit to the receiving unit " via the transmission system." Id., col.5, 11.6-7. The server itself then provides a " memory . . . for storing the data, as well as the digital images which [are] contained in the data." Id., col.5, 11.11-13. The classification information is transmitted to the server from the telephone unit and is " used for archiving the images in the server memory." Id., col.7, 11.52-55. The classification information " characterize[s] the digital images." Id., col.2, 1.18.

Dependent claims 2-8 build upon Claim 1 by adding the following limitations to the communication system: wirelessly coupling the transmission system to a telephone unit (Claim 2),[5] implementing a speech recognition unit (Claim 3),[6] incorporating audio data as the classification information (Claim 4),[7] including spoken language as the classification information (Claim 5),[8] including time information as the classification information, (Claim 6),[9] and incorporating the telephone number (Claim 7)[10] and location memory (Claim 8)[11] as the classification information prescribed by the user. Dependent claim 9 also incorporates the " communication system as claimed in claim 1," but specifies that the " server includes a data bank system." Id., col.9, 11.41-42.

Dependent claim 10 adds an " image analysis unit for determining quality of the digital images." Id., col.9, 11.44-45. And dependent claim 11 includes a " control unit for controlling resolution of digital images in said at least one telephone unit." Id., col.9, 11.47-49. Dependent claim 15 also includes a control unit, but the control unit

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controls " a transmission rate of data used in the transmission system for transmission of the digital images." Id., col.9, 11.60-62. Dependent claim 16 provides for " a control unit for controlling resolution of digital images in said at least one telephone unit and controlling a transmission rate of data used in the transmission system for transmission of the digital images." Id., col.9, 11.64-67. Finally, dependent claims 12 and 13 provide for analysis of speech signals (Claim 12)[12] and having the server include a speech synthesis unit (Claim 13),[13] while dependent claim 14 provides that the server is connected to the telephone unit via the Internet.[14]

The next independent claim in the '295 patent is the method claim, Claim ...


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