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Zynga Faces Patent Infringement Lawsuit From Segan LLC
Zynga Faces Patent Infringement Lawsuit From Segan LLC
August 1, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

Self-described "product invention and development company" Segan LLC has sued social gaming leader Zynga, accusing it of infringing on a patent regarding a "system for viewing content over a network" that facilitates advertising.

While Segan doesn't develop online games, it does hold a patent, filed in 2000 and issued in 2006, describing in broad terms a method for adding "enhancement content for a character icon" by visiting external web sites.

"The user will select website addresses of subscriber target sites where the user can access enhancement content for the character icon to provide functionality to the character icon such as for animating the character icon on the user device," the patent reads, in part.

The patent goes on to give examples of a character -- who exists in a separate browser window -- gaining new outfits, backgrounds, and animated dance moves when a user visits participating web sites.

Zynga's games offer players in-game currency and items for participating in offers from external sites, a controversial practice that has drawn criticism and class-action lawsuits for allegedly misleading advertising tactics.

Segan's lawsuit [PDF] seeks unspecified damages and a permanent injunction against Zynga's use of the patented technology, or an order that Zynga pay royalties to Segan for use of the technology.

Zynga is currently embroiled in a number of other lawsuits, including dueling copyright infringement claims with social developer Vostu, and a patent infringement suit brought by Walker Digital over a technique for running online game tournaments.

The company has previously settled a trademark infringement lawsuit with Digital Chocolate over Mafia Wars, as well as a trade secrets lawsuit with rival Playdom.

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Eric Kwan
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Let me guess: Segan hasn't actually done anything with this patent, other than sit on it and wait to sue someone. Right?

Alan Rimkeit
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Yes, most likely. Being a patent troll should made into a crime.

Luis Guimaraes
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If that's how business is done over there, prepare for another economic recession.

E Zachary Knight
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This is getting frustrating. How in the world did such a patent get granted? In a civilized society, this patent and hundreds of thousands of others like it would have been laughed out of the patent office.

Unfortunately, the US is becoming less and less civilized.

Eric McVinney
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It's not the US itself, just some business people getting dumber :P

Daniel Gooding
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These patent lawsuits are almost becoming as common as studios shutting down. Takes some serious grit to stay dedicated to game development.

Jacob Crane
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Yea, this stuff is just wrong. Personally, I think they just waited until a huge fish had enough money to just pay them off. I hope Zynga torches them in court. This kind of abuse in our industry needs to be stopped, or we can not evolve.

Robert Schmidt
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No patent should be enforceable if the patent holder is not actively exploiting the patent. It should be that simple. The purpose of a patent it to protect the investment of technology developers. If there is no investment, there is no patent. Patent trolls are parasites that need to be purged from the bowels of society.

Duong Nguyen
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HAha "enhancement content for a character icon" what a joke software patents have become. To be fair though the patent office knows full well these are bad patents but rather let the courts decide than make any ruling. There needs to be clear cut rules on software patents, if there is a single prior art the patent should be invalidated and the patent must describe an actual existent model or product not something "in the future" which "might" exist or not, which most of these troll patents are, hand waving broad worded pie in sky..

Harry Fields
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Flippin' lawyers...

Ian Bogost
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Enhancement content!

Arjen Meijer
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someone should get rid of those patent things... there nothing more then a neusence!