The ‘192 patent describes a shooting game system for shooting targets. The system uses a controller for shooting which features a scope and a trigger. A photoelectric converter converts light which shot an electric signal towards the television, thus allowing a player to shoot a target on the screen. Whenever a player hits a target, the target is changed and reacted in whatever way it was designed to do after being struck. This is one of the older “light gun” patents around.
A video game set (1) displays a sighting mark on a television receiver (4). A player shoots this sighting mark by a shooting scope (5). At this time, the shift between a coordinate position of the sighting mark and a coordinate position which is shot is operated by the video game set (1) and is stored as a correction value. When the player shoots a target in a game mode, the coordinate position which is shot is corrected on the basis of the correction value stored in the video game set (1).
1. A shooting game system for shooting a target displayed on a raster scan type display in a position spaced apart from the display to play a shooting game, comprising:
game processing apparatus being connected to said display for performing processing for the shooting game;
a shooting scope, having a light receiving axis, used in a position spaced apart from said display for shooting the target displayed on said display; and
a sight attached on said shooting scope and defining a sighting axis having a predetermined angle with respect to the light receiving axis of said shooting scope, whereby said sighting axis intersects the light receiving axis of said shooting scope on said display when the distance between said shooting scope and said display is a predetermined distance;
said shooting scope comprising;
a trigger signal generator for generating a trigger signal in response to an operation performed by a player,
a photoelectric converter for converting light from a position which is shot on said display into an electric signal which is synchronized with raster scanning of said display, and
a control signal transmitter for transmitting by optical space communication a control signal based on the electric signal outputted from said photoelectric converting means to said game processing apparatus in response to said trigger signal from said trigger signal generator,
said game processing apparatus comprising
a control signal receiver for receiving the control signal transmitted from said control signal transmitter,
shot coordinate position determining means for detecting a coordinate position which is shot by said shooting scope on said display on the basis of a raster coordinate position on said display at the time of receiving of said control signal by said control signal receiver,
reference mark display controlling means for displaying a reference mark in a predetermined fixed position on said display before starting the game,
an error detector for operating, when said reference mark is shot by said shooting scope, to detect an error between the coordinate position detected by said shot coordinate position detecting means and a coordinate position of said reference mark,
an error storing device for storing the error detected by said error detector,
a target display controller for displaying the target on said display while the game is played,
correcting means for correcting, when the target on said display is shot by said shooting scope, the relative positional relationship between a coordinate position of the target and the coordinate position detected by said shot coordinate position detecting means on the basis of the error stored in said error storing device, and
hit judging means for making a hit determination in a case where said target is shot by said shooting scope on the basis of said relative positional relationship after being corrected by said correcting means.
Bethesda and Interplay reached a settlement agreement regarding the “Fallout” trademark back in the January of 2012. The origins of this dispute trace back to September 8, 2009, when Bethesda filed a complaint alleging that Interplay had, among other things, participated in trademark infringement, unfair competition, false designation of origin, and breach of contract. Interplay filed its answer in October of 2009 along with counterclaims that include breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage.
When the “Fallout” mark was first issued on August 8, 1998, Interplay had ownership and developed, manufactured, and distributed three games using the mark: “Fallout,” “Fallout 2,” and “Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel.” Interplay entered an Exclusive Licensing Agreement with Bethesda during June 2004 which gave Bethesda the exclusive license rights “to future uses of the Fallout property and its associated trademark.” On April 4th of 2007, Bethesda and Interplay entered an Asset Purchase Agreement (“APA”) and a Trademark License Agreement (“TLA”). Under the APA, Bethesda could purchase the rights to the Fallout mark for $5,750,000 while Interplay retained its exclusive right to manufacture, have manufactured, sell, and distribute the preexisting Fallout games. The TLA allowed Interplay to create a Massively Multiplayer Online Game around the Fallout franchise under two conditions: 1) Interplay must begin the “full-scale development of its FALLOUT MMOG” and 2) Interplay must have “secured financing for the FALLOUT MMOG in an amount no less than $30,000,000” by April of 2009. If Interplay failed to meet these two conditions, the TLA provided that Interplay would have to forfeit its license rights. When Interplay refused to relinquish its licensing rights and insisted on creating a Fallout MMOG through Masthead Studios, Bethesda initiated this lawsuit.
In the January of this year, Bethesda and Interplay finally reached a settlement in this trademark dispute. Bethesda now owns the rights to create a Fallout MMOG and Interplay has forfeited any right to Fallout intellectual property. Interplay will be allowed, however, to manufacture, sell, and distribute the preexisting Fallout games through 2013.
On January 21st, LottoTron, Inc. filed a complaint against eleven Costa Rican entities alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,921,865 entitled “Computerized Lottery Wagering System.” As previously reported, LottoTron has asserted infringement of the same patent against other entities over the past few years. The Complaint, filed in the District of New Jersey, does not specifically identify which claims were infringed, but alleges that the operation of “interactive gaming websites directly infringes the claims of the ‘865 patent in violation of 35 U.S.C. §271(a).” The Complaint further alleges that the Costa Rican entities have “also induced and contributed to the infringement of the claims of the ‘865 patent by others.”
The patent has two independent claims (claims 1 and 8) and fifteen dependent claims. Claim 1 is directed towards a wagering system and claim 8 is directed towards a method of automatically accepting different wagering formats. The two independent claims are reproduced below.
1. A wagering system for automatically accepting wagers comprising:
a) communications means for receiving communications from subscribers, said communications means including computer means and a wireless link;
b) message means connected to said communications means for receiving the incoming communications routed from said communication means and for providing a series of messages requesting subscriber information particular to one of the plurality of wagering formats; and
c) computer means having storage means connected to said message means for receiving and storing said subscriber wagering information, and assigning a reference number to a wager.
8. Method for automatically accepting a plurality of different wagering formats over a computer system, comprising:
receiving incoming communications from prospective wagerers and routing each of said communications according to which one of said plurality of different wagering formats is requested by a subscriber;
providing a series of messages requesting subscriber wagering information particular to one or more of said plurality of wagering formats;
requesting identification information from said prospective wagerers; and
requesting said prospective wagerers to enter a wager.
The case is LottoTron, Inc. v. SBG Online Casino et. al.,Case 2:10-cv-00337-SRC –MAS, 2:10-cv-0337 (D.N.J. filed January 21, 2010). We will continue to follow this case and the related cases.
Nintendo’s Wii gaming system is again the subject of patent infringement lawsuit. IA Labs, LLC recently filed a Complaint in the District of Maryland against Nintendo alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,121,982 and 7,331,226. Nintendo’s allegedly infringing activities and products relate to the “Wii console video game machines and related ‘Wii Fit’, Wii Fit Plus’, Wii Balance Board’, ‘Wii Remote’, Wii Nunchuck’, ‘Wii Motion Plus’, ‘Wii Zaper’ peripheral devices and software.”
On their face, both patents are assigned to Powergrid Fitness Inc. According to the Complaint, IA Labs acquired the patents from Interaction Labs, which is “also known as Powergrid Fitness.” The ‘982 patent recites two independent claims (claims 1 and 9). Claim 1 recites:
1. An isometric exercise system serving as a peripheral to manipulate a virtual reality scenario of a host processing system in accordance with user exercise, comprising:
a frame to support a user;
an effector to provide an isometric exercise for said user, wherein said effector is fixedly secured to said frame and includes an elongated rod;
at least one sensor coupled to said rod and responsive to at least one force applied by said user to said effector to perform said isometric exercise, wherein said applied force effects a measurable deformation of said rod that is measured by said at least
one sensor; and
a processor coupled to said at least one sensor and including a data processing module to receive and process data corresponding to applied force information measured by said at least one sensor and to transfer information to said host processing system to control said virtual reality scenario of said host processing system in accordance with performance of said isometric exercise and manipulation of said effector by said user.
1. A force measurement system comprising:
an effector device including a hollow interior;
an inner support disposed within said hollow interior of
said effector device; and
at least one sensor secured at a selected location to said inner support and configured to measure a force applied to said inner support; wherein at least one outer surface portion of said inner support is coupled with at least one interior surface portion of said effector device such that forces applied to said effector device are at least partially transferred to said inner support for measurement by said at least one sensor.
Case Update: May 2012
In September of 2011, iCloud Communications filed a motion for a voluntary dismissal with prejudice of its trademark infringement suit against Apple’s iCloud. iCloud Communications has since changed its name to PheonixSoft and may not bring suit against Apple again for the same subject matter.
On Thursday, June 9, just one week after iCloud’s debut at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple was sued for trademark infringement in the iCloud mark. iCloud Communications, an Arizona-based company, has been using the iCloud name since 2005 in conjunction with its own cloud-based service. The company focuses primarily on VoIP solutions for business and residential customers but also provides cloud computing services for customers and asserts that it has spent significant amounts of money building the infrastructure to do this, as well as “tens of thousands of dollars” annually in advertising its cloud computing services. In its complaint iCloud Communications alleges that Apple willfully infringed on its mark, that this action is representative of a pattern of willful trademark infringement by Apple, and that this infringement has led to consumer confusion as to the origin of its services.
iCloud Communications asserts that Apple was either aware, or was willfully blind to its rights in the iCloud trademark and that this reflects a pattern by Apple of “act first, worry about the [trademark] consequences later.” The complaint cites other examples like the use of iPhone (similar to Cisco’s iPhone), the iPad (to which a trademark application has been filed by Fujitsu Frontech North America), iAds (a trademark owned by Innovative Media Group), and now iCloud as evidence that Apple regularly tramples on the marks of others.
In addition, iCloud Communications has put forward a reverse confusion argument that “due to the worldwide media coverage given to and generated by Apple’s announcement of its ‘iCloud’ services and the ensuing saturation advertising campaign pursued by Apple, the media and the general public have quickly come to associate the mark ‘iCloud’ with Apple, rather than iCloud Communications,” causing irreparable harm to iCloud Communications’ trademark. The VoIP company also cites instances of actual confusion where consumers have called in to inquire whether the company is associated with Apple now.
This case is reminiscent of Dreamwerks Production, Inc. v. SKG Studio, 142 F.3d 1127 (9th Cir. 1998.) There the 9th Circuit held that DreamWorks studios reverse infringed on the trademarks of the smaller Dreamwerks company. Despite the fact that DreamWorks was a movie production studio, and Dreamwerks organized sci-fi conventions, the 9th circuit held that both companies belonged to the entertainment industry and that the “reasonably prudent consumer” would likely be confused as to the source of the service provided. In the case of the iCloud, both companies engage directly in cloud-computing services, adding to the apparent strength of a reverse confusion argument.
The twist here is that, although it has used the iCloud name for six years, iCloud Communications never registered the term as a trademark. Apple actually owns the rights to the iCloud trademark through registration at the USPTO. According to Cnet and USPTO records, Apple recently spent $4.5 million to acquire the iCloud.com domain and corresponding Federal trademark registration no. 3,744,821 from the Swedish cloud computing company Xcerion, and filed for additional trademark rights to the iCloud name in May 2011, listing various classifications, including one for “electronic storage of data, text, images, audio, and video; storage services for archiving electronic data; information and consultation in connection therewith.” This is all very reminiscent of the now infamous Burger King dispute between the Burger King fast-food chain and the mom-and-pop Burger King restaurant in Mattoon, Illinois.
We’ll continue to follow the case and bring you updates.
Thorner et al v. Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC et al
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (On appeal from the U.S. District court, District of New Jersey)
Case No. 2011-1114 (originally 09-01894), Filed December 13, 2010 (originally April 21, 2009)
Case Update 05/23/2012:
On February 2, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit vacated the New Jersey District Court’s decision previously reported below. The Federal Circuit reviewed the district court’s interpretation of the terms “attached” and “flexible,” noting that the general rule is that claims must be given their ordinary and customary meaning unless the patentee acts as his own lexicographer or the patentee disavows the full scope of the claim. Since the term “attached” met neither of these exceptions, the Federal Circuit determined that it should be given its ordinary and customary meaning that includes both internal and external attachment. The Federal Circuit also disagreed with the district court’s interpretation of the term flexible (“capable of being noticeably flexed with ease”). Thorner argued that this term should be given its ordinary and customary meaning that only requires the pad to be “capable of being flexed.” The Federal Circuit accepted Thorner’s interpretation and has remanded the case for further proceedings.
We previously reported (see original post below) about a spinoff from the Sony v. Immersion case dealing with haptic feedback technology. Craig Thorner had previously developed patents for Immersion and had also received payments from Sony for his work on vibrating touch technology. As we reported, Thorner sued Sony claiming that Sony’s lawyers induced him to accept less than favorable terms for his license. He sued Sony for monetary compensation for infringement on his vibrating touch feedback patent.
Specifically at issue was Thorner’s U.S. Patent # 6,422,941 (the ‘941 patent) titled “Universal Tactile Feedback System for Computer Video Games and Simulations.” According to Judge Brown, “attached to said pad” is construed to mean “affixed to the exterior surface of the flexible pad,” and as a result Sony does not infringe the ‘941 patent. He wrote that under the court’s construction of the phrase “attached to said pad” Sony did not infringe because “the patent claim limitation is not met with respect to their products.”
On November 4, 2010, the charges against Sony were dismissed in district court. The court’s judgment as to whether Sony’s technology infringed Thorner’s patent was determined by its construction of the phrase “attached to said pad.” After conducting Markman hearings over the disputed claim phrase, Chief Judge Garrett Brown of the New Jersey District Court dismissed all of Thorner’s patent claims against Sony without prejudice. The judge noted that he was dismissing the claims without prejudice in light of Thorner’s specific objection to the district court’s construction of “attached to said pad.” The parties also agreed to a stipulation of dismissal without prejudice, and Sony acknowledged that dismissal of the claims would not prejudice Thorner’s ability to assert those claims in the future, in this same case. The court noted that if the Federal Circuit reverses its construction of “attached to said pad” or applies a different construction, the parties may reassert all claims and issues on remand.
The dust has long settled on the Sony/Immersion haptic feedback suit, right?
Not quite. According to a complaint filed in Thorner v. Sony Computer Entertainment America, Inc., Case No. 09-01894 (NJ filed April 21, 2009), and amended recently, a witness from that case claims he was tricked into cooperating and signing away his own patent rights for a fraction of their worth.
According to the complaint, Craig Thorner was an engineer who held several patents that were also directed to haptic feedback technology, similar to those asserted by Immersion against Sony, and his patents were part of Sony’s after-trial attempt to invalidate Immersion’s patents.
The complaint alleges that days after the verdict against Sony, Thorner was contacted by another company that had also been targeted by Immersion. This other company, Performance Designed Products LLC (PDP), was a game distribution company, and (according to the complaint) needed Thorner’s help.
Thorner claims that in working with PDP, he ended up negotiating with them to license his own patents to them, and that in that negotiation process he sought help from the same attorneys that represented Sony. According to the complaint, those attorneys helped him with the license, and they encouraged him to accept terms that were less than favorable to Thorner (including a provision that could grant a patent license to Sony, and another one accepting royalty payments that were much less than he had originally sought).
Thorner now alleges that all that time, those attorneys were actually helping Sony get a better deal out of him, and that Sony and PDP were actually working together to get that deal. He has sued them for legal malpractice, and has sued Sony for infringement of his patents.
This case is just beginning, so we will have to wait to see the other side of the story, and to see how it all turns out. Stay tuned ….
Case Update 05/24/2012:
In August of 2011, Hasbro and Atari released that they had reached a settlement regarding the intellectual property rights in Dungeons & Dragons. Hasbro has reacquired digital licensing rights to the franchise while licensing these rights to Atari.
This case is still making its way through the court system. On June 28, 2011, Atari’s motion to have the case dismissed was denied. In it’s motion Atari argued that Hasbro could not prove its fraud claims since it did not actually or justifiably rely on statements from Atari regarding licensing of D&D to third parties. Atari’s motion also accused Hasbro of “attempting to manufacture a non-existent [fraud] claim out of thin air.” The court was apparently not convinced by this argument as it has allowed the case to continue.
Earlier this week, Hasbro, which owns the intellectual property rights in Dungeons & Dragons, filed a lawsuit against Atari over Atari’s allegedly unauthorized sublicensing of its rights in Dungeons & Dragons to Namco Bandai, one of Hasbro’s major competitors.
According to Hasbro’s complaint, which was filed on Wednesday in federal district court in Rhode Island, Hasbro first entered into a license agreement with Atari in 2000 in which Hasbro granted Atari the exclusive rights to make, market, distribute, provide customer support, and sublicense (with Hasbro’s approval) digital game rights in Dungeons & Dragons.
Earlier this year, however, Atari allegedly sold its European distribution rights to Namco Bandai, which according to Hasbro’s complaint is the third largest toy and game manufacturer in the world behind Mattel and Hasbro.
In this lawsuit against Atari, Hasbro is arguing that Atari breached its license agreement with Hasbro in sharing confidential information related to Dungeons and Dragons with Namco Bandai. For this alleged breach, Hasbro seeks a declaration from the court that Hasbro may terminate immediately its Dungeons & Dragons license agreement with Atari, as well as an injunction against Atari and money damages.
The case is Hasbro, Inc. v. Infogrames Entertainment S.A. a/k/a Atari, S.A., case number CA09-610ML, and it was filed on December 16, 2009, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island.
We will continue to follow this case.
ALJ Rogers further determined that Motiva waived privilege with respect to documents underlying Motiva’s domestic industry assertions. Again, Motiva had waived privilege with respect to the Standley Opinion since it had put its contents at issue with respect to its domestic industry claims. It was decided that Motiva had further waived privilege with respect to documents that related to patent prosecution and litigation because of its domestic industry claims. Nintendo argued that it could not determine the accuracy of Motiva’s domestic industry investments without certain supporting documents. ALJ Rogers agreed and ordered Motiva to produce documents related to billing and the subject of the work performed. ALJ Rogers further ordered Motiva to produce certain documents on its privilege log that were identified as invoices or billing records in addition to its fee arrangement regarding its present litigation. Nintendo’s request for production of Motiva’s privileged communications related to patent litigation and prosecution were denied, however, since they were not put at issue.
The last issue decided upon was the privilege log that Motiva had produced earlier. Nintendo argued that Motiva violated Ground Rule 4.10.1 while Motiva asserted that Nintendo was referring to an old privilege log, and that its amended privilege log complied with this rule. ALJ Rogers found Motiva’s privilege log to be insufficient in many regards. For example, many of the authors or senders of each document were omitted from the log. ALJ Rogers further found that documents omitted from the log and documents relating to corporate formation were not adequately explained to be withheld as attorney work product. Nintendo also argued that communications were being withheld even though there was no indication that an attorney was involved. For this reason, and because of all other deficiencies found with the privilege log, ALJ Rogers ordered Motiva to produce a privilege log that complies with Ground Rule 4.10.1.
Case Update: June 2011
Initially in the Eastern District of Texas, this case was referred to mediation on March 17, 2009, and then transferred to the US District Court for the Western District of Washington on March 3, 2010. The parties are concurrently litigating a related case in front of a judge at the International Trade Commission. On June 2, 2011, the ITC judge denied Nintendo’s motion to force Motiva to turn over documents that Nintendo alleged Motiva was improperly withholding as privileged.
After reviewing the items ALJ Robert Rogers found that while Motiva did not meet the burden to show that the documents were protected by attorney client privilege (because they did not “in any way reflect or relate to a fact of which the attorney was informed by the client”), they did successfully prove that the documents were protected by the attorney work product doctrine.
This is the latest chapter in the suit’s progress through the ITC. The ITC probe was initially terminated in February because Judge Rogers initially determined that there was no domestic industry that existed to allow Motiva to proceed with this patent-based suit. Prior to filing this ITC complaint Motiva had been involved in district court proceedings in the US against Nintendo but the judge initially found that this was not enough to constitute “domestic activity.” The ITC vacated this determination in April 2011 saying 1) that it was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Motiva’s district court litigation against Nintendo was related to its licensing activities and thus a “domestic activity,” and 2) that Judge Rogers erred in declining to consider Motiva’s activities in the US before the issuance of their patents (this included substantial amounts of time spent on product development.) The case was remanded to Judge Rogers.
Specifically, Nintendo petitioned for a writ of mandamus alleging that the district court clearly abused its discretion when denying Nintendo’s request to transfer the suit to Washington. Citing the mounting pile of decisions transferring cases out of the very same district, including Volkswagen (545 F.3d 304), TS Tech (551 F.3d 1315) , and Genentech (566 F.3d 1338), the Federal Circuit held that “the district court clearly abused its discretion in denying transfer from a venue with no meaningful ties to the case.” In fact, the Federal Circuit indicated that “[t]his case appears to repeat the erroneous methodology that led this court to grant mandamus in TS Tech.” The decision continued to elaborate on the errors made by the district court, including:
(1) applied too strict of a standard to allow transfer;
(2) gave too much weight to the plaintiff’s choice of venue;
(3) misapplied the forum non conveniens factors;
(4) incorrectly assessed the 100-mile tenet;
(5) improperly substituted its own central proximity for a measure of convenience of the parties, witnesses, and documents; and
(6) glossed over a record without a single relevant factor favoring the plaintiffs chosen venue.
Specifically regarding the plaintiff’s choice of venue, the court again reiterated that the:
Fifth Circuit has unequivocally rejected the argument that citizens of the venue chosen by the plaintiff have a ‘substantial interest’ in adjudicating a case locally because some allegedly infringing products found their way into the Texas market.
It is important to note that several issues, including: 1) the appropriateness of Nintendo’s methods seeking review of the district court’s denial to transfer the suit, and 2) the forum non conveniens factors to consider when deciding a motion to transfer venue, did not relate to substantive patent law, thus the Federal Circuit applied the law of the circuit which the district court is located, in this case the 5th Circuit.
On March 1, 2010, the district court vacated its June 30, 2009 order that denied Nintendo’s Motion to Transfer and transferred the matter to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.
We will continue to follow the case as it resumes in the Western District of Washington.
U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
Case No. 2:2010cv02065, Filed On December 23, 2010
antitrust and patent infringement dispute between Microsoft and Datel Design
and Development Ltd that began in 2009. To
summarize the details of this battle covered partially in a previous post, Microsoft
implemented an update to its Xbox 360 system that prevented Datel’s memory
cards from working with the console.
Datel sued Microsoft in 2009, claiming that Microsoft’s actions were
anticompetitive and in violation of federal antitrust law. In 2010, Microsoft initiated a lawsuit of its
own against Datel, claiming that Datel’s Turbofire and WildFire Xbox 360
controllers infringed its patent that covers the communication between a gaming
console and a wireless accessory (U.S. Patent No. 7,787,411). Datel agreed to stop manufacturing and
importing the offending devices, however Microsoft still sought compensatory damages
from past infringement despite dropping the infringement case. Finally, in December of 2011, Microsoft and
Datel reached a confidential settlement agreement out of court, ending the 2
year antitrust and infringement litigation.
U.S. District for the Southern District of California
Earlier this year, Gametek LLC filed several lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California against 21 companies including Facebook, EA, and Zynga. Gametek alleges that these entities infringe upon a patent for a virtual currency and payment system incorporating items bought and used in-game. Games that allegedly infringe upon the ‘445 patent include popular titles such as FarmVille, Mafia Wars 2, and Poppit! Sprint, to name a few.
The name GameTek was used by a video game publisher prior to its closing in1998. This publisher, based in North Miami Beach, Florida, created several video game adaptions of popular 90s game shows such as Wheel of Fortunate and Jeopardy!. The Gametek presently involved in this lawsuit, however, claims its place of business in Newport Beach, California, and does not appear to be the same entity. In fact, the current owner of the business license Gametek LLC has not produced a single game as of the writing of this post.
Activities of this apparent shell company may be unknown, however the last assignee of the ‘445 patent before Gametek was Theados Corporation, a company that claims to have developed “the world’s first Revenue Operating System.” Theados Corporation assigned the patent to Gametek LLC last year, and along with it, the right to sue for all past and present infringements. Gametek LLC seeks through this lawsuit to obtain damages, an injunction that would prohibit the defendants from infringing upon the patent, and attorneys’ fees.
Case No. 11-cv-02415, Filed July 22, 2011
Hidden Image Technology Solutions, a Georgia company, has sued Thomas Barnhart asserting that he falsely promotes himself as the sole inventor of several patents, and has profited from this false promotion. The lawsuit seeks to remove Barnhart as an inventor of those patents, and to instate his co-inventor, Joel Brooks, as the sole inventor of the patents. The patents in question are:
5,984,367: “Hidden image game piece.” Granted 11/16/1999.
7,747,472: “Hidden image game piece.” Granted 6/29/2010.
6,629,888: “Hidden image game piece.” Granted 10/7/2003.These are physical game patents, consisting of printed pieces, that when held against pre-programmed colors on a television or computer screen, reveal hidden messages. The first use of this patent by Brooks, in the early 1990s, was for a hidden printed message distributed in newspapers, called the “Red Reveal Game Piece.” When held against a red part of the screen set to appear during a Dallas Cowboys football game, the game piece would reveal a hidden message or advertisement. The idea garnered interest from television outlets like MSNBC, and Brooks also worked to adjust the invention to the growing opportunity of the internet. Brooks developed a WebDecoder® based on the patents above, and shared his idea for marketing it with Barnhart. According to Hidden Image’s complaint, Barnhart cajoled himself into the position of co-inventor of these patents by convincing Brooks that this was necessary for Brooks’ own “protection.” In reality, according to Hidden Image, Barnhart was not an inventor of the patents, and Brooks was the true sole inventor.
The complaint alleges that Barnhart not only forced his way into the co-inventor position on three of the patents, but without Brooks’ knowing, he had himself listed as the sole inventor of the ‘888 patent. Barnhart also attempted to license these patents giving Brooks only 10% of the royalties. Brooks in 2003 licensed his rights, title and interest in these patents to a subsidiary of Hidden Images. Hidden Images now seeks to have Barnhart’s name stricken from the records of the USPTO, and to instate Brooks as the sole inventor of all four patents. Hidden Images also seeks an injunction barring Barnhart from using the patents, and to recover damages, profits, and attorney’s fees.
Because this is a physical game patent, we won’t follow this one further. You can learn more about the case filings at PriorSmart.
Earlier this year we reported on Walker Digital’s suit against 2K Games, filed April 25, 2011. Walker voluntarily dismissed the April claims against 2K Games and all other defendants on April 28 and May 4. Only to sue them again.
In the present suit, filed July 22, Walker alleges that Take-Two Interactive Software, three subsidiaries, 2K Games Inc., 2K Sports Inc,. and Grand Theft Auto-creator Rockstar Games Inc., infringe on patents for technology enabling electronic tournament game play for multiple players and storing player information for future use.
- Whether the federal securities laws were violated by Defendants’ acts
- Whether the Prospectus and Registration Statement issued by Defendants to the investing public in connection with the Offering omitted and/or misrepresented material facts about Giant Interactive and its business
- Whether Defendants’ statements issued during the Class Period were materially false and misleading; and
- The extent of injuries sustained by members of the Class and the appropriate measure of damages
- The Registration Statement for the IPO was inaccurate and misleading, contained untrue statements of material facts, and omitted necessary and material facts
- Giant Interactive was responsible for the contents and dissemination of the Statement and the Prospectus and, as a result, were strictly liable for the misstatements and omissions
- None of the Defendants made a reasonable investigation or possessed reasonable grounds for the belief that the statements in the Registration Statement were true or were not misleading
- The Registration Statement contained a Prospectus which was used to induce investors to purchase Giant Interactive’s ADSs
- That Giant Interactive solicited purchases for their personal financial gain through the preparation and dissemination of the Prospectus
- The Prospectus contained untrue statements of material fact and omitted facts necessary to make the statements not misleading
- That Defendants were obligated to make a reasonable and diligent investigation of the statements contained in the Prospectus to ensure that such statements were true
- None of the Defendants made a reasonable investigation or possessed reasonable grounds for the belief that the statements contained in the Prospectus were accurate and complete
- Awarding Plaintiffs damages together with interest (for purchase of the ADSs)
- Awarding Plaintiffs their costs and expenses of litigation
- Awarding Plaintiffs further relief as may be just and proper under the circumstances
857 F. Supp. 679 (N.D. Cal. 1994)
On July 15, 2011, Activision filed a complaint with the National Arbitration Forum in an attempt to get control of the domain name www.modernwarfare3.com. The website, which uses visuals from Activision’s Modern Warfare 3 game, and which at first glance appears to be related to Modern Warfare, actually directs to users to a site in support of Electronic Arts’ competing Battlefield 3 game. Of late the website has also hosted videos with titles like “Modern Warfare 3 is a Joke.”
The National Arbitration Forum administers the Uniform Domain Dispute Resolution Policy which was established in the late 1990s to protect trademark holders from third parties that registered a domain name that could be construed as being an official source of information. Here, the domain ModernWarfare3.com was registered by an unnamed person on March 26, 2009, via GoDaddy.com—long before Modern Warfare 3 was announced by Activision. In its complaint, Activision argues that the Modern Warfare brand was famous prior to the registration of the ModernWarfare3.com domain name, and at that time the brans was already a highly distinctive and famous trademark that symbolized substantial goodwill. As such, even though Modern Warfare 3 was not yet launched, the brand itself was famous enough to establish Activision’s trademark rights to related domain names.
Under the rules of the UDRP, Activision must establish that the ModernWarfare3.com domain is identical to a trademark it has the rights to, that the person who registered it has no rights to the domain name, and that the individual in fact is using it in bad faith. The first two factors appear to hold in Activision’s favor. As to the third factor of bad faith, Activision’s complaint says that “it appears that the [site owner] supports the game Battlefield from the game developer Electronic Arts,” citing that not only did the domain at one time redirect to the Battlefield website, it also urged visitors to “grow up and forget about Modern Warfare 3 (because it looks just like Modern Warfare 2) and buy Battlefield 3 instead,” all while having the logos and appearance of a Modern Warfare 3 site that Activision says was confusing to consumers. In addition, Activision asserts that the site hosted advertisements, indicating that the unknown owner was profiting from their trademarked brand. Activision is asking that the National Arbitration Forum give it ownership of the domain name immediately. We note that, as of July 20, 2011, the modernwarfare3.com site is no longer loading.