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DietGoal Innovations, LLC v. Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.

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

August 24, 2015

DIETGOAL INNOVATIONS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
WEGMANS FOOD MARKETS, INC., et al., Defendants

         Decided August 21, 2015.

          For DietGoal Innovations LLC, Plaintiff: Steven War, LEAD ATTORNEY, McNeely Hare & War LLP, Washington, DC; Christopher Michael Joe, Eric William Buether, Michael David Ricketts, Niknaz Forughi Bukovcan, PRO HAC VICE, Buether Joe & Carpenter, LLC, Dallas, TX.

         For Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., Defendant: Dabney Jefferson Carr, IV, LEAD ATTORNEY, Harrison Scott Kelly, Troutman Sanders LLP (Richmond), Richmond, VA; Richard Drake Rochford, Haynes and Boone LLP (NY), New York, NY.

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         MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

         Raymond A. Jackson, United States District Judge.

         Before the Court are Defendants Domino's Pizza, General Mills Sales, Inc., Wegman's Food Markets, and Dunkin Brands Group, Inc.'s Motions to Declare this Case Exceptional Under 35 U.S.C. § 285 and to Join Additional Parlies (" Motions" ). ECF Nos. 149, 159, 171, 173. The Court has thoroughly reviewed the record, the parties' briefs, and the law governing the Motions and has determined that a hearing would not aid in the decisional process. The Motions have been fully briefed and are now ripe for judicial adjudication. For the reasons stated below, each motion is DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On July 1, 2013. the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued United States Patent No. 6,585,516 (the " 516 patent" ) entitled " Method and System for Computerized Visual Behavior, Analysis, Training, and Planning." ECF No 2-1 at 29. The patent discloses a manner of planning meals with an eye toward healthy eating. Plaintiff, as the exclusive licensee of the patent, brought this patent infringement action against Defendants and several other entities in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

         On March 25, 2013, this case was transferred from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. ECF No. 45.

         On March 29, 2013, Defendant Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. moved to transfer the

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case to the United States District Court for the Western District of New York. ECF No. 48. Plaintiff opposed the motion, ECF No., 60, and this Court denied the motion on November 19, 2013.

         On July 9, 2014, Defendants Domino's Pizza, Inc., Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc., General Mills Sales, Inc., and Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. filed Defendants Notice of Authority Regarding Finding of Invalidity of Asserted Patent Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 101. ECF No. 115. Defendants notified the Court that by Opinion and Order in DietGoal Innovations LLC v. Bravo Media LLC, 33 F.Supp.3d 271, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York held that the only patent at issue in this case, the 516 patent, was directed toward patent ineligible subject matter and therefore invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Id. Specifically, the Court held that, the claims of the '516 Patent recite steps that, although computer-implemented by virtue of the patent application, could " be performed in the human mind, or by a human using a pen and paper," and " a method that can be performed by human thought alone is merely an abstract idea and is not patent-eligible under § 101.'" Id. at 18.

         On July 23, 2014, Defendants Domino's Pizza, Inc., Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc., and Wegmans Food Markets Inc. filed a Joint Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. ECF No. 118. Defendants also filed a Memorandum in Support of their Joint Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, and Plaintiff filed an Opposition. ECF Nos. 119, 128. Defendants filed a Rebuttal Brief to their Joint Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings on August 21, 2014. On October 6, 2014, Defendants filed Notice of Supplemental Authority in Support of the Joint Motion on the Pleadings. ECF No. 133.

          On November 13, 2014, the Court received a Joint Motion for Entry of Final Judgment and Stipulation filed by Domino's Pizza, Inc., Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc., General Mills Sales, Inc., and Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. ECF No. 135.

         On November 19, 2014, the Court entered a Stipulated Final Judgment Order. ECF No. 136. The parties agreed that " in a related suit involving the '516 Patent, the District Court for the Southern District of New York entered an Opinion and Order that the '516 Patent is drawn to patent-ineligible subject matter and is invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101." Id. Further, the Order noted that " for the purposes of this stipulation and any resulting appeal only, the parties stipulate and agree that DietGoal is barred by the application of collateral estoppel from continuing to assert a claim for infringement of the '516 Patent against the Defendants. Therefore, the parties stipulate and agree to the entry of a Stipulated Final Judgment of Invalidity based on the application of collateral estoppel with regard to the '516 Patent." Id. The Court entered final judgment without prejudice to DietGoal's appeal of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York judgment. Id. Further, DietGoal reserved its right to seek an order vacating this stipulated final judgment if the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or the United States Supreme Court find that the patent is valid. Id.

         On December 31, 2014, Defendant Domino's Pizza, Inc. filed a Motion to Declare this Case Exceptional Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 281 and to Join Additional Parties to Defendant's Request Under 35 U.S.C. § 285. ECF No. 149. Defendant Domino's Pizza, Inc. filed a Redacted Brief in Support of its Motion to Declare the Case Exceptional and to Join Additional Parties to Defendants' Request. ECF No. 150.

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          On January 7, 2015, Defendant General Mills Sales, Inc. filed a Motion for Attorney Fees (Motion for an Exceptional Case Finding Under 25 U.S.C. § 285, for Attorney's Fees and to Join Plaintiff's Principals). ECF No. 159. Defendant General Mills Sales. Inc. also filed an accompanying Memorandum in Support. ECF No. 160. The Court received a Sealed Memorandum in Support on January 8, 2015. ECF No. 165.

         On January 14, 2015, Defendant Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. filed a Motion to Declare this Case Exceptional Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 281 and to Join Additional Parties to Defendants' Request Under 25 U.S.C. § 285. ECF No. 171. Defendant Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. filed an accompanying Memorandum in Support of its Motion. ECF No. 172.

         On January 14, 2015, Defendant Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc. filed a Motion to Declare this Case Exceptional Under 35 U.S.C. § 285 and to Join Additional Parties. ECF No. 173. Defendant Dunkin' Brands ...


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