In Bally Gaming Inc. v. IGT, case number 3:06-cv-00483, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, Bally Sued International Game Technology (IGT) for infringement of U.S. Pat. No. 7,100,916. Claim 1 of the ‘916 patent reads:
1. An electromechanical indicator comprising: a rotary body having an axis of rotation and which is provided with a plurality of segments radiating from said axis of rotation, wherein said segments are associated with at least two different indicia; a motor coupled to said rotary body such that said rotary body is adapted for a rotating mode and a stationary mode about said axis of rotation; a pointer associated with said rotary body to point to a predetermined segment of said plurality of segments when said rotary body is in said stationary mode; and a segment detector for detecting a rotary position of each of said plurality of segments whereby said motor rotates said rotary body to point said pointer to said predetermined segment which is determined before said rotary body enters a stationary mode.
The Judge (Edward C. Reed, Jr.) found all but one of the 22 claims of Bally’s slot-machine patent to be prima facie obvious, based on a summary judgment motion filed by IGT. The judge apparently gave little consideration to secondary factors of nonobviousness, such as the huge commercial success of the patent in games like Wheel of Fortune. That could be a wedge to hammer in on appeal. But this case definitely demonstrates a post-KSR casualty. We’ll watch this case and let you know whether it gets a final judgment or a settlement (my money is on settlement, because there is other patent litigation between these two companies, and IGT might want to save its own patents from a similar fate).