On November 6, 2017, Activision Blizzard, Inc. (“Blizzard”) filed a petition for inter partes review (“IPR”) against Game and Technology Co. Ltd. (“GAT”). Blizzard is challenging claims 1-7 of U.S. Patent No. 7,682,243 (the “’243 Patent”). The same claims in the same patent were challenged by Wargaming Group Ltd. (“Wargaming”) in IPR2017-01082, which Blizzard plans to join.
Activision’s IPR petition is responsive to a lawsuit that GAT brought against Blizzard in the Eastern District of Texas on July 9, 2015 (No. 2:15-CV-1257, now 2:16-CV-6499 in the C.D. Cal.). In that case, GAT has asserted that Blizzard’s World of Warcraft infringes three patents: the ’243 Patent, U.S. Patent No. 8,253,743, and U.S. Patent No. 8,035,649. In separate suits, GAT has sued Wargaming, Valve Corporation, and Riot Games, Inc.
The ’243 Patent generally relates to a “pilot” and a “unit associated with the pilot,” such as a player character and an animal mount. Claim 1 of the ’243 Patent reads:
1. An online game providing method for providing a pilot and a unit associated with the pilot at an online game, the method comprising the steps of:
controlling an online game such that a player can manipulate a pilot and a unit associated with said pilot, said pilot being a game character operated by a player, said pilot representing the player, said unit being a virtual object controlled by the player;
maintaining a unit information database, the unit information database recording unit information on said unit, in which the unit information includes ability of said unit and sync point information;
maintaining a pilot information database, the pilot information database recording pilot information on said pilot, in which the pilot information includes a unit identifier indicating said unit associated with said pilot, ability of said pilot and the ability of said unit associated with said pilot;
receiving a request for update on first pilot ability information of a first pilot;
searching for unit identifier information associated with the first pilot by referring to the pilot information database;
searching for sync point information associated with the searched unit identifier information by referring to the unit information database; and
updating and recording the first pilot ability information and unit ability information associated therewith in accordance with the searched sync point information such that said ability of unit is changed proportionally to changes in ability of the pilot by referring to said sync point,
wherein said sync point information is a ratio of which changes in said ability of pilot are applied to said ability of unit, and said steps of searching for unit identifier information and of searching for sync point information are performed by a processor.
Blizzard argues that the ’243 Patent’s “alleged novelty” relates to the “sync point,” bolded above. Per Blizzard’s petition, the ’243 Patent is anticipated because the Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook Core Rulebook I v. 3.5 (“D&D 3.5”) discloses “player characters with animals whose abilities are synchronized based on ratio relationships, so that increases to the character’s abilities are applied proportionally to the animal’s abilities.” For instance, D&D 3.5 allegedly discloses that a druid’s animal companion’s abilities increase corresponding to the class level of the druid.
More information on the Inter Partes Review process is available here.