Back in January we reported a new patent case filed by White Knuckle IP against Electronic Arts over updating sports video games based on real-life events during a season. The asserted patent was U.S. Pat. No. 8,529,350. That case was actually terminated and refiled as Utah District case no. 1-15-cv-00036 in February.
From our earlier report, the patent discusses how prior art games were fixed as of the day they were released. A real-life player’s outstanding performance or a major trade taking place during the season would not be reflected until the next version of the game was released. The system described in the ‘350 patent purports to solve this problem by downloading updates to game attributes that are based on real-life changes in players, teams, and venues.
EA filed an inter partes review (IPR) request yesterday with the USPTO to invalidate the patent (IPR2015-01595). EA argues that the ‘350 patent should be limited to updates applied to stadium or field parameters based on arguments made by the patentee during prosecution. Moreover, EA argues that their own earlier games teach all the features claimed in the ‘350 patent. EA points to the 2001 iteration of their popular FIFA soccer games and the 2000 version of their Madden football games as teaching the updating features claimed in the ‘350 patent. Of note is that one of the references cited by EA is a Madden 2000 Updates Website which included a “Playoff Week 1 Update” file.
At this time, the IPR has only been filed with the USPTO. The Patent Trials and Appeals Board (PTAB) will consider whether to institute the IPR based on EA’s arguments. If the PTAB institutes the IPR, EA and White Knuckle will fight it out at the USPTO rather than (or in addition to) the federal courthouse in Utah.
The full IPR petition can be found at https://ptabtrials.uspto.gov/.
We will continue to watch this case for interesting developments.