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Walker Digital Suing Zynga, Activision Blizzard Over Gaming Tournament Patent
Walker Digital Suing Zynga, Activision Blizzard Over Gaming Tournament Patent
January 5, 2011 | By Eric Caoili

January 5, 2011 | By Eric Caoili
More: Console/PC

Stamford-based Walker Digital, an invention firm and parent of discount airfare site, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Zynga and Activision Blizzard over a gaming patent for distributed electronic tournaments.

The claim centers on a U.S. patent for a "database driven online distributed tournament system" that was issued to Walker Digital in 2002.

The patent describes "a method and a system for a distributed electronic tournament system in which many remotely located players participate in a tournament through input/output devices connected to a central controller which manages the tournament."

That method includes steps for allowing players to participate in a tournament after paying an entry fee, storing player info from the tournament, and awarding the player a prize for their tournament performance.

It also describes steps for "determining whether the player has been qualified to advance to a subsequent game session, in which at least one player is eliminated from the previous game session".

The lawsuit alleges that Activision Inc., Activision Publishing, Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment, and Zynga have released a total of 24 products infringing on that patent, including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 and 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: World at War, Blur, Wolfenstein, DJ Hero 2, Golden Eye 007, World of Warcraft and its expansions, Mafia Wars, and many others.

Walker Digital is seeking compensation for damages from Zynga and Activision's alleged infringements that it says "cannot presently be quantified but will be ascertained through discovery or at trial," according to a copy of the complaint filed with the Delaware U.S. District Court and posted by TechCrunch. It is requesting a trial by jury for all counts of infringement.

This complaint follows just a month after Walker Digital filed a suit against Facebook, in which it accused the site of infringing its patent on a system for users to manage and restrict the release of information about themselves or their identities to friends and strangers. The social network, which offers this feature through its user privacy settings, called the lawsuit "completely frivolous" and intends to fight it.

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E Zachary Knight
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Yay for software patents. These are the most wonderful thing to happen to intellectual property since the implementation of life plus 70 years for copyrights.


Paul Fish
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Can I file a patent on the method of filing patent infingement lawsuits, and then sue all these idiots filing asinine patent infringement lawsuits? It's worth a shot, right?

Mark Venturelli
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This patent is ridiculous even for ridiculous patent standards.

Luis Blondet
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I patent having fun while controlling an image on a screen.

I win :3

Matt Cratty
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Either the laws regarding software patents are flat-out idiotic, or patent lawyers are woefully inept. I'm guessing on number two. NON-OBVIOUS is a criterion for receiving a patent. Just about all software encompasses something that is obvious to other software engineers.

99.999 percent of software is obvious and shouldn't patentable.

Its an embarrassment that a lawsuit like this can even exist.

In the current system, you could probably get a patent for "image-related forum games" and sue the pants off everyone. Free money for scumbags I guess.

Javier Chavez
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I'm patenting patenting.

Mark Harris
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Too late, IBM has already filed for that.... and I'm not joking.

Kris Graft
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Whoa!! I missed that:,11868.htm

Javier Chavez
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Christopher Thigpen
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Wow. Some companies have zero class or common sense.


Paopao Saul
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Really? How would one logically hold a online tournament? By using some sort of database to lookup stats! This is so obvious and people have been doing this before 2002. Is it just utter ignorance that a patent like this is granted without being reviewed? Oh wait.. I forgot, the US IP patent system is broken.

Corey Cole
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I thought I understood the patent process, but now I'm not so sure. The patent lists prior art in essentially every area of the patent. I would have thought that would make the patent invalid. Per, Poker Spot started running online tournaments in Sept. 2000, eight months before the patent was issued.

Basically, the patent reads like a high-level technical design document (or a moderately detailed design document) for a tournament site. All of the specified processes are so generic, they would apply to any implementation of a tournament. Considering that similar techniques were used for jousting tournaments in the Middle Ages, there is nothing innovative or original there. And the wildest thing is that the patent *admits* this - It lists multiple instances of prior art for everything in the patent. I guess the "uniqueness" is supposed to be in putting them all together, but all it really states is that all of those things are needed to run any sort of online tournament. Any design for any online tournament would (and does) state the same things because they're tautologically the *definition* of an online tournament.