MP Games LLC et al. v. Shuffle Master, Inc.
Case 2:05-cv-01017 (W.D.Wash., filed 6/6/05)

Case Update:
Pursuant to an agreement between the parties this case was dismissed with prejudice on October 10, 2006.

Original Post:

MP Games, Alliance Gaming, and Ballys Gaming have sued Shuffle Master for a misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, and patent infringement. The patent at issue is U.S. Pat. No. 6,460,848. The reason we’re tracking this case is because the patent is directed to software algorithms used by a card reader in the discard rack to determine which cards have been dealt and played in a casino game, based on a bar code of sorts. While not strictly a video game, the software aspect of this case presents an interesting twist in conventional “gaming.”

Figures 5-6 of the ‘848 patent are reproduced below:

The Abstract of the ‘848 patent reads as follows:
“A system automatically monitors playing and wagering of a game, including the gaming habits of players and the performance of employees. A card deck reader automatically reads a symbol from each card in a deck of cards before a first one of the cards is removed. The symbol identifies a respective rank and suit of the card. A chip tray reader automatically images the contents of a chip tray, to periodically determine the number and value of chips in the chip tray, and to compare the change in contents of the chip tray to the outcome of game play for verifying that the proper amounts have been paid out and collected. A table monitor automatically images the activity occurring at a gaming table. Periodic comparison of the images identify wagering, as well as the appearance, removal and position of cards and other game objects on the gaming table. A drop box automatically verifies an amount and authenticity of a deposit and reconciles the deposit with a change in the contents of the chip tray. The drop box employs a variety of lighting and resolutions to image selected portions of the deposited item. The system detects prohibited playing and wagering patterns, and determines the win/loss percentage of the players and the dealer, as well as a number of other statistically relevant measures. The measurements provide automated security and real-time accounting. The measurements also provide a basis for automatically allocating complimentary player benefits.”

Claim 1 of the ‘848 patent reads as follows:
“1. A card deck reader, comprising:
a housing having a cradle sized to receive a plurality of playing cards; and
a reading head positioned in the housing to read a respective symbol on each of the playing cards before a first one of the plurality playing cards is manually removed from the housing.”

We’ll monitor the case and keep you apprised of further developments.