Innovention Toys LLC (“Innovention”) previously filed suit against MGA Entertainment Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Toys R Us Inc. for allegedly infringing U.S. Patent No. 7,264,242, (“the ‘242 patent”) entitled “Light Reflecting Board Game.” As summarized by Judge Martin Feldman in his recent order, the ‘242 patent is directed towards a “chess-like board game in which opposing players shoot a laser beam at mirrored game pieces in order to reflect the beam in an attempt to strike (and thus eliminate from the game) an opponent’s key playing piece.” MGA Entertainment Inc. (“MGA”) is the manufacturer of the Laser Game which is distributed through Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Toys R Us Inc. Innovention asserted that the Laser Game infringed independent claims 31, 39, 40, 41 and dependent claims 32, 33, 43, 44, 48, 49, 50, 53, and 54. One of the claims at issue, independent claim 39 recites:
A board game for two opposing players or teams of players
a game board, movable playing pieces having at least one
mirrored surface, movable key playing pieces having no
mirrored surfaces, and a laser source,
wherein alternate turns are taken to move playing pieces
for the purpose of deflecting laser beams, so as to
illuminate the key playing piece of the opponent.
MGA filed a motion for summary judgment of non-infringement and invalidity. As part of their non-infringement arguments, MGA asserted that the Laser Battle game cannot infringe the asserted claims of the ‘242 patent because not all the game pieces are “movable.” Specifically, MGA argued that game pieces known as “Tower pieces” are intended to remain in a single space during the game. Innovention, the owner of the ‘242 patent filed cross-motions for summary judgment of infringement and validity.
On October 14, 2009, Judge Martin Feldman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana granted Innovation’s motions for summary judgment of infringement and validity. The court held that Laser Game was “virtually identical” to the asserted claims. Regarding the “movable” limitation, the court construed “movable” to mean “capable of movement as called for by the rules of the game or game strategy.” The court determined that the “Tower pieces” were moveable because “even if the instructions suggest the pieces ‘should’ not so be moved, that capability is nevertheless present.” The decision inherently indicates that sizing the Tower pieces differently from the other pieces as to preclude movement to another position would likely have avoided a finding of infringement.
Regarding validity of the ‘242 patent, the court considered references that disclosed chess-like computer games using lasers. The court first determined that the claims were not anticipated. Regarding obviousness, the court first noted the higher standard required for a finding of invalidy in a motion of summary judgment and determined that the defendants “failed to provide convincing evidence that adapting a laser chess computer game to a physical board game was a design step well within the grasp of a person of ordinary skill in the relevant art, which they suggest is a layperson.”
One of the attorneys for the defendants indicated that they would be filing a motion for reconsideration. The case is: Innovention Toys LLC v. MGA Entertainment Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Toys R Us Inc., Civil Action No. 07-6510 (E.D. La.). We will follow this case.