Zynga Sued Over Patent Infringements

Zynga Sued Over Patent Infringements

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Casual gaming giant Zynga has been sued by Texas-based Personalized Media Communications for infringing on four of its patents with games like Words With Friends and FarmVille.

Love it or hate it, Zynga is a huge, multi-billion-dollar success story, and you know what that means: it's time for tiny companies you've never heard of to drag it into the courtrooms of the Eastern District of Texas. So it is that Zynga is now facing a lawsuit filed by Texas-based Personalized Media Communications claiming that games including Treasure Isle, CityVille, Zynga Poker, Hanging With Friends and many others infringe upon four of its patents.

"Many years of time and labor went into developing our inventions and securing the patents that permit their practice," said PMC founder and chief inventor John C. Harvey. "It wouldn't be right to sit by and allow them to be infringed."

The patents in question - 7,797,717, 7,908,638, 7,734,251 and 7,860,131 - "covers the use of control and information signals embedded in electronic media content to generate output for display that is personalized and relevant to a user," as stated by the complaint. The patents "disclose and claim many different aspects of this basic functionality," according to PMC, including "controlled access of media content, personalized content based on individual attributes, management of downloading technologies, network management, control of targeted advertising, and purchase of media and other products."

I hate to use the word "troll" but you have to admit the timing is a bit dodgy. Zynga's games aren't new, nor are PMC's patents, at least one of which talks about the Chicago-based Zenith Radio Corporation and 5.25" floppies. Zynga's billion-dollar IPO, on the other hand, is less than two months old. Coincidence? Hey, I'm no lawyer, I'm just the guy pointing out that there are sleazier things in the world than making derivative games for Facebook.

PMC is demanding a trial by jury and seeks damages, including "enhanced damages" because the Zynga infringement was "willful and deliberate," attorneys' fees and other costs, and whatever else the court thinks is appropriate. The PMC complaint can be read in full at personalizedmedia.com.

Source: Business Wire

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Now I hate Zynga, but... seriously? That description used for the patents is fairly vague and broad in description. It could be talking about Facebook itself rather then Zynga. This is one of the few times I'm hoping Zynga actually wins, because this does seem like a very stupid lawsuit and a quick cash-grab by the company in question.

Moral of the story: make yourself a bad guy like Zynga did and people will line up to take shots at you while the crowds cheer at your downfall.

Its shit because what happens is all these stupid cases get thrown out of court so quickly that when legitimate cases come up they pretty much get tarred with the same brush instantly.

The wording of that patent could apply to so much as well, I always though patents had to be considerably specific and detailed as to what they could relate to. Otherwise whats to stop someone saying "I patent the idea of [insert random device that could be available in 30 years time]" and waiting for the cash to come rolling in?

Lol patent law sucks. But if i remember correctly, PMC doesnt have basis for suing unless it has conflicting products created with such patent. That is unless USA patent law is more fucked up than i thought. Dont take my word for it, i never really delved into patent law, but tahts as much as i can remember. it also depends on the patent itself. it seems like its a trademark issue, so if they have conflicting products, they may sue i believe. not sure.

Fasckira:
Its shit because what happens is all these stupid cases get thrown out of court so quickly that when legitimate cases come up they pretty much get tarred with the same brush instantly.

The wording of that patent could apply to so much as well, I always though patents had to be considerably specific and detailed as to what they could relate to. Otherwise whats to stop someone saying "I patent the idea of [insert random device that could be available in 30 years time]" and waiting for the cash to come rolling in?

you cannot patent something unless you use it that patent. if its a trademark, if you say you patent the name JellyShit Inc, if you have no business wich uses such name for identification, you cnanot sue for it. you have to use your patent or you lose it. you have i believe 5 years until it goes stale.

draythefingerless:
you cannot patent something unless you use it that patent. if its a trademark, if you say you patent the name JellyShit Inc, if you have no business wich uses such name for identification, you cnanot sue for it. you have to use your patent or you lose it. you have i believe 5 years until it goes stale.

Ahhh ok, got you. Surely it still has to be a bit more specific though?

Treasure Isle launched April 2010
The earliest any of these patents were filled was June 8th, 2010
Patents apply retroactively?

This is really one more reason why trademark, copyright, and patent law needs to be thrown out completely and started anew with stronger guidelines. This and the whole Edge fiasco is testament to that.

Andy Chalk:
Hey, I'm no lawyer, I'm just the guy pointing out that there are sleazier things in the world than making derivative games for Facebook.

Suing people over making sleazy games on Farcebook? That you derived from others?

samsonguy920:
This is really one more reason why trademark, copyright, and patent law needs to be thrown out completely and started anew with stronger guidelines. This and the whole Edge fiasco is testament to that.

I hope all the people asking for a complete rehaul of all these laws are careful what they wish for.

Sure it's screwed up now, but imagine how screwed up it can be with all the corporate lobbyists...

Why the patent system is messed up. See figure 7,908,638.

Seriously, this "patent" covers anything with a login, but email existed long before these.

I'm all for Zynga being sued for intellectual property theft where applicable, just not this kind of intellectual property theft.

Software patents are ridiculous and need a serious overhaul. A lot of these things are tantamount to patenting a mathematical equation.

There are only so many ways to accomplish something that needs to be done with software, and just because you're the first person who rushes those techniques to the patent office doesn't necessarily mean you should be granted legal exclusivity for them.

I almost can't wait for the courts to tell them stop wasting our time, every digital company on the planet does that crap now. Should have kept on the ball about it, because now there's too much to pursue. Sucks to be them.

Dooly95:

samsonguy920:
This is really one more reason why trademark, copyright, and patent law needs to be thrown out completely and started anew with stronger guidelines. This and the whole Edge fiasco is testament to that.

I hope all the people asking for a complete rehaul of all these laws are careful what they wish for.

Sure it's screwed up now, but imagine how screwed up it can be with all the corporate lobbyists...

That is very true, it could end up worse. As it is now, it is only open to abuse at the expense of innocent people. True there is the occasional real transgressor that needs to learn about originality, but anymore these days I just see another shmo or corporation abusing it to their benefit.

Grass grows, sun shines, birds fly, and Zynga blatantly steals ideas from other developers without even pretending that they don't. No news here.

Zynga Poker? How the hell can you claim copyright infringement on poker? The game is older then your company and there are hundreds of versions of virtual poker. That is absolutely ridiculous.

At first I was like ^-^

Then I was like >.>

Seriously. There's no other way to put it, these guys are patent trolls.

Patent Trolls: Zynga is willfully and maliciously infringing on our patent!

Judge: Alright let's see what this patent is for.

*Judge reads patent*

Judge: Get out.

Patent Trolls: What?

Judge: I said get out.

Patent Trolls: Buy your honor our patent clearly---

*Judge cocks shotgun he keeps under the bench*

Judge: You have ten seconds before I pass judgement.

Patent Trolls: This is clearly a violation of---

Judge: You really are just plum stupid aren't you? ...Five seconds.

At least they are demanding a trial by Jury. This way Zynga can't just buy their silence... They can buy the jury instead!

Arseholes suing arseholes...I don't know what I want to happen here...maybe freak accident in the courtroom killing both sides but no one else?

I would like to see Zynga die but not to copyright trolls. They're just as bad...had my hopes up for this one :(

Fasckira:
Its shit because what happens is all these stupid cases get thrown out of court so quickly that when legitimate cases come up they pretty much get tarred with the same brush instantly.

The wording of that patent could apply to so much as well, I always though patents had to be considerably specific and detailed as to what they could relate to. Otherwise whats to stop someone saying "I patent the idea of [insert random device that could be available in 30 years time]" and waiting for the cash to come rolling in?

theres worse ones then that
A guy tried getting a Patent for the human genome and Nerve cell(this one was rejected but it got close to being accepted)
here is a few more
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/crazy.html

DVS BSTrD:
Treasure Isle launched April 2010
The earliest any of these patents were filled was June 8th, 2010
Patents apply retroactively?

No, the patent shouldn't have been awarded in the first place, with such a clear example of "prior art". IANAL, but it looks like PMC wouldn't have a strong case at all if their patent was challenged in court.

direkiller:
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/crazy.html

Rofl, cheers for this, thats proven for a great morning read so far! I loved the "animal toy" one where the guy is essentially trying to patent a stick. :D

The funny thing is, they probably could be sued for their blatant ripoffs anyways. Each one of their games is almost a 1:1 copy of existing games like Harvest Moon.

At least someone is trying to hold Zynga accountable for their copying. Even if it doesn't pan out.

Hugga_Bear:
Arseholes suing arseholes...I don't know what I want to happen here...maybe freak accident in the courtroom killing both sides but no one else?

I would like to see Zynga die but not to copyright trolls. They're just as bad...had my hopes up for this one :(

a judge with a shotgun. hell yeah.
ok, seriuosly. i have to agree, one evil entity suing another evil entity (though the initiator is probably more troll than evil). personally, i dont care how it ends, either way i win.

Fucking patents. Being all vague and shit.

While I normally have little patience for BS lawsuits, this really is a case of Zynga getting exactly what they asked for, remember the whole "We don't need innovation," thing.

Still this suit is laughably stupid, this company should try patenting the wheel

Oops, too late:

http://edition.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/auspac/07/02/australia.wheel/

God this hurts to say but... I'm on Zyngas side (ouch my soul).

There are few things I hate more than Zynga, and Patent Trolls are one of them.

Kapol:
Now I hate Zynga, but... seriously? That description used for the patents is fairly vague and broad in description. It could be talking about Facebook itself rather then Zynga. This is one of the few times I'm hoping Zynga actually wins, because this does seem like a very stupid lawsuit and a quick cash-grab by the company in question.

Zynga's rich and doesn't have a good reputation. Even if it's not exactly morally justified, expect people to start kicking them in the teeth to grab a few dollars on the way out.

What a joke. IP laws need a serious overhaul.

These patents are a laugh. Anything as simple as repeating the customer's name back to them on the screen infringes this patent. This is pretty much like saying you own the trademarks to the word Hello!

That bloody idiotic. I'm guessing they came out of the woodwork because they say Spryfox was suing them and figured they ought to jump on the supposed bandwagon.

I hate Zynga. But I hate patent trolls more. I hope Zynga doesn't settle, but instead utterly schools them in court. Unfortunately, Zynga will probably just settle and give them the danegeld.

 

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