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Linksmart Wireless Technology, LLC v. Caesars Entertainment Corp.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

December 23, 2019

LINKSMART WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          MIRANDA M. DU CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. SUMMARY

         Plaintiff Linksmart Wireless Technology, LLC alleges that Defendants Caesars Entertainment Corporation, Golden Nugget, Inc., Landry's Inc., Las Vegas Sands Corp., MGM Resorts International, and Wynn Las Vegas LLC infringe U.S. Reissued Patent No. RE46, 459 (the “'459 Patent”) in this consolidated patent case[1] because they have systems at their hotels that ask guests for login information the first time those guests connect to the WiFi. (ECF No. 1.) Before the Court are Defendants' motions to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing the '459 Patent is not directed to patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101, and is thus invalid as a matter of law.[2] (ECF Nos. 77, 78, 79.) Because the Court is unpersuaded by Defendants' argument that the '459 Patent is directed to an abstract idea, but instead finds the patent claims a solution to a problem specifically arising in the realm of computer networks-and as further explained below-the Court will deny the motions to dismiss.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are adapted from the Complaint. (ECF No. 1.) The '459 Patent is entitled "User specific automatic data redirection system." (Id. at 2.) The '459 Patent claims priority to U.S. Provisional Pat. App. No. 60/084, 014 (the "'014 Application"), filed on May 4, 1998 (ECF No. 1-2 at 2), which primarily consists of a report authored by the '459 Patent's co-inventors (ECF No. 1 at 4). The '459 Patent centers on an allegedly novel and innovative system featuring a "redirection server" that mediates an end user's internet access based on rules regarding parameters such as time, or the location from which an end user is accessing the internet. (Id. at 4-6.) The redirection server sits between the end user and the wider internet. (Id. at 5.) The redirection server can therefore filter the end user's requests based on rules programmed in the redirection server. (Id. at 5-6.) "By way of example, rule sets could be programmed such that a user would need to access a location, e.g., a page with advertising, before being able to freely surf the Web." (Id. at 6.)

         The innovation embodied in the '459 Patent is visually represented in the '459 Patent through a comparison between two figures:

         (Image Omitted)

         (ECF No. 1-1 at 7 (emphasis added).) The red circle highlights the redirection server.

         The Complaint explains: “Once the user is connected to the ISP in this case, the user's requests to the Internet first go to the redirection server.” (ECF No. 1 at 5.) As mentioned, that means the redirection server could, for example, force the user to view an advertisement before accessing the broader internet. Moreover, the '459 Patent specifies that the rule set used by the redirection server can be automatically modified. (Id. at 5, 6.) “As another example of the redirection server automatically modifying the rule set if a user has obtained access to the Internet through paid access for a limited time, the user's Internet access could be disabled once that time has been exceeded.” (Id. at 6.)

         The Complaint goes on to explain this system solved problems associated with preexisting redirection methods and systems. Specifically, at the time of the invention, while redirection could be performed by HTML code on a web page, that redirection could only occur once the user had already gained access to the internet, and not, as in the '459 Patent, before the user can even access the internet. (Id.) Or redirection could be accomplished through a proxy server programmed with a list of blocked or allowed addresses-such that a user could only access certain sites-but those lists were governed by static rules that needed to be reprogrammed by an external server to change the sites the user could access. (Id. at 6-7.)

         Plaintiff alleges that Defendants infringe the '459 Patent by relying on technology covered by the '459 Patent to provide internet access to their hotel and resort guests. The Complaint contains a specific example alleging that the system used in Defendant Caesars Entertainment Corporation's Las Vegas hotels infringes the '459 Patent's exemplary claim 91. (Id. at 8-10.) Plaintiff alleges that, when a Caesars' hotel guest first attempts to connect to the internet from her hotel room, she is presented with a popup window asking her to provided login credentials regardless of the web site URL she initially enters into her browser bar. (Id. at 8-9.) But when that user enters her login information, Caesars' server modifies its rule set to allow her to access the internet for a period of time-such as a day, if she has only paid for a day's worth of internet access. (Id. at 9- 10.) Plaintiff thus alleges that, in this example, Defendant Caesars indirectly infringes the '459 patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) by actively inducing infringement by its hotel guests who follow Caesars' instructions to access the WiFi network from her hotel room. (Id. at 10.)

The parties focus their arguments on claim 91 of the the '459 patent, which reads:
A system comprising:
a redirection server programmed with a user's rule set correlated to a temporarily ...

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