Pokemon Go Developer Niantic Wins Battle Over 3D Virtual Thematic Environment Patent

Barbaro Technologies, LLC v Niantic, Inc.
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Case No. 18-cv-02955-RS
Filed January 30, 2018

In an update to a previously reported suit, Niantic, developer of Pokemon Go and Ingress, has defeated part of Barbaro Technologies, LLC’s US Patent No. 8,228,325 (the “325 Patent”) on an interactive virtual thematic environment. The Court, ruling on a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by Niantic, found that Claims 1, 3, and 6 of ’325 Patent were invalid under Section 101 of the Patent Act because they claim unpatentable subject matter.

The ’325 Patent relates to integrating real world location data into a three-dimensional virtual thematic environment (“3D VTE”). The Court held that the ’325 Patent was patent-ineligible. Particularly, the Court found that the ’325 Patent was directed to the result of integrating real world data with a virtual environment, rather than the specific method of so integrating the two. In other words, the Court found that, while the ’325 Patent details a multitude of embodiments of the claimed result, it does not improve on any of the existing technologies used to achieve the claimed result.

Barbaro argued that the claims in the ’325 Patent recited patent-eligible subject matter because integrating real world data into a 3D VTE is a “uniquely technical problem.” The Court disagreed, pointing to examples from before the Internet, like board games based on world maps and architectural models of real-world locations, which allow user interaction. The Court also noted that Barbaro did not provide technological details for its claimed invention, instead referring to the use of “standard” technologies.