Federal Circuit Affirms PTAB Obviousness Ruling

Game and Technology Co. Ltd. v. Activision Blizzard Inc. et al.
Case Number 18-1981
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, June 21, 2019

To wrap-up our earlier posts on this case: On Friday, June 21, 2019, the Federal Circuit affirmed that a Game and Technology Co. patent relating to technology for customizing characters in an online game is invalid. This decision affirms the earlier PTAB decision on the 8,253,743 Patent.

The Court’s opinion stated that there was substantial evidence to support the Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s finding that the Game and Technology Co. patent was obvious based on prior art. The prior art cited was a user manual for the Blizzard Entertainment video game Diablo II.

The suit was first filed by Game and Tech against Blizzard in 2015 and separately filed against Riot Games Inc as well. The complaint alleged that the video games World of Warcraft and League of Legends had incorporated Game and Tech’s patented technology relating to customizable game avatars. However, the suit was stalled when Activision Blizzard and Riot Games asked for PTAB review.

During the PTAB inter partes review (IPR) it was found that Game and Tech’s patent was obvious based on the Diablo II manual alone. Game and Tech suggested a general rule that a single reference, such as this manual, could not alone support obviousness. However, the Federal Circuit reiterated its position and affirmed the PTAB by stating that “a patent can be obvious in light of a single prior art reference if it would have been obvious to modify that reference to arrive at the patented invention.” As such, obviousness can be found even without a secondary reference.