Priceline creator sues Activision, Zynga

Walker Digital claims patent infringement against Call of Duty, Mafia Wars creators over use of online tournament technology.

Activision Blizzard and Zynga might not have much in common on the surface, given their disparate emphasis on core and casual gaming, but the two companies have been named as codefendants in a new lawsuit. Earlier this week, Priceline.com creator Walker Digital filed a patent-infringement complaint against the two companies in the United States District Court of Delaware, claiming Activision Blizzard and Zynga are illegally using technology related to online gaming tournaments.

Courtroom salvos are the best kind.

The patent in question, titled "Database driven online distributed tournament system," was granted to Walker Digital in July 2002. It describes "a product and method of distributed electronic tournaments for a plurality of players that exchanges information with a central controller to influence game play while a player plays in the tournament and stores player information to influence game play in a subsequent tournament."

According to the suit, 13 of Activision Blizzard's recent titles are infringing upon the patent. Included among the alleged infringers are Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2, Blur, Transformers: War for Cybertron, DJ Hero 2, and James Bond 007: Blood Stone. The suit also targets Blizzard Entertainment's money-minting massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft, as well as its three expansions.

While Zynga's own money-minting blockbuster FarmVille is safe from the proceedings, the casual game company is still allegedly violating Walker Digital's patent with six titles. These include Mafia Wars, Vampire Wars, Fashion Wars, Pirates, Special Forces, and Street Racing.

Walker Digital is seeking damages "that cannot presently be quantified but will be ascertained through discovery or at trial." The company, which owns more than 500 patents and patent applications, is also active in the casino, online gambling, vending, and retail sectors.

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107 comments
Cheesy_Pie
Cheesy_Pie

This is interesting indeed. I looked up the company. This company has over 500 patents, and has filed lawsuits against Apple, and even Facebook. Against Apple for some rather ambiguous claims of a device used to synchronize "additional media, such as separate audio or video, with a program that is being played either live or a recording that is being replayed." Against Facebook for a "Method and system for establishing and maintaining user-controlled anonymous communications." I don't know about you, but this is becoming quite clear that this company has patents for the sake of suing.

jingtao
jingtao

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

chaosrhythm
chaosrhythm

...so if i patent a every model for a toilet I can charge anyone that takes a dump? well you can always use a shovel for free. sheesh just leave it be Walker Digital, what happened to innovation?

Mitchell_1797
Mitchell_1797

never liked zynga: buy 250 farm points for only $49.95

chronolzx
chronolzx

500 patents? The government shouldn't grant patents to idiots.

helborhamy
helborhamy

@big-boss-91 So they can say activision has been doing this for x number of years and get the maximum amount of money out of them.

big-boss-91
big-boss-91

why do companies take a long time to sue other companies? that patent was created in 2002, why wait 8 years to sue? americans are idiots

mtnjak
mtnjak

What a coincidence. It just so happens that both COD MW and MW2 are listed. Looks like Priceline wants a piece of the COD profits. Was Shatner too expensive a spokesperson? LOL

Flex1
Flex1

the world is going to end! Patent pending. man now everything is being patented, next you know you cant pee sitting because its patented! Who is the moron that allows this stupid patents?

Khalathwyr
Khalathwyr

@GravityDs That very well could be the case as well. A person would have to be naive to argue against what you say. Money drives people.

jameslee1997
jameslee1997

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Alex_09
Alex_09

@CrazyPhish Greedy, jealous people like to claim good ideas as their own.

MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

Walker Digital is grasping at straws. 1 if they had a patent they should have watched more closely how others might infringe upon it. 2 Activision and Zynga should have made sure their tech wasn't infringing on anyone's Patents. 3 Multiplayer games just by design are a kind of tournament even though the game may not label the game mode as such, I'm no legal expert but the way I see it Walker Digital's case doesn't hold water.

CrazyPhish
CrazyPhish

I don't get it, I thought Priceline helped you find hotel rooms or something. Why would they have a patent related to video games.

Kexster
Kexster

maybe all these game companies could stop sueing each other and put the money into making some good games... which would pay out way more than all these bullsh*t lawsuits.

Cowbie
Cowbie

I don't know, but if they have the patent and other gamers are infringing on that patent...then the law will be enforced. If Activision Blizzard or other companies weren't smart enough to patent those things when they were using them, it's really their loss. If I don't patent a technology/idea (which is quite expensive by the way) anyone can rip it from me and patent it themselves. The fact that this was patentable in the first place is surprising, but it's already done. Should be interesting to watch how this plays out.

laxmaniac
laxmaniac

They have owned the patent since 2002, and the thing to think about is how long have all those games, or others like them, been around for and they are just starting to go after these game companies. I mean I have to agree here with some of the other posts saying that Walker Digital is hurting from something and are looking for any way to make it up.

that1guy67
that1guy67

i bet Walker Digital started running out of money or got in trouble with someone and can't pay so he decided to sue and try to get something out of it. Why else would he wait this long to sue someone? the patent was made in 2002 and 9 years later he just up and decides he wants to sue someone. i hope this does not go through and who ever he owes money to comes and wipes him out. jerk.

PanWicket
PanWicket

For crap sakes even! Happy New Year Blizzard.. Just what you wanted to wake UP to this morning!! *shakes head*

Bobman_jct
Bobman_jct

@shani_boy101 Normally, they wouldn't be allowed to file a patent if it really did cover as wide an area as this one seems to, not least because the knowledge was trivial, and common, before it was filed.

Bobman_jct
Bobman_jct

Patent was filed in 2002? Personally, I don't think they should have been allowed to file a patent like that. Database driven tournaments are the only way to RUN a tournament. All that patent does is copyright the digitisation of it. I bet you anything it'll fall through. It should.

ActionManly
ActionManly

As with all fat cats, sometimes the kindest thing you can do for them is to put them down and not let them struggle trying to make forevermore more money, and the video game fat cats are no different. Seriously, I believe the world would be better off if we just put down Kotick and the rest of the strays that continue to attack one another...

jameslee1997
jameslee1997

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Crash_WL
Crash_WL

Stop posting comments before I sue you, I've registered a patent for everyone who posts comments!

hazardousracerx
hazardousracerx

Ranked ladders on RTS's were around before 2002. Blizzard had Battle.net up before the patent was created (1997 in fact) and it offered competitive multi-player (plurality of players) via ranked ladder play in Starcraft when it was released in 1998. Battle.net definitely fits the description of this patent and it was up and running more than 4 years before the patent was granted. "In February 2002, lawyers retained by Blizzard threatened legal action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) against the developers of bnetd. Blizzard games are designed to operate online exclusively with a set of Blizzard-controlled servers collectively known as "Battle.net". Battle.net servers include a CD key check as a means of preventing software piracy."

GravityDs
GravityDs

@khalathwyr Actually it seems like they saw years ago that this was happening and said "Wait. Lets let them continue to infringe on our tech because they more they use it, the deeper they dig themselves, which will allow us to easily slam them in court, and request a larger sum of money". If I were a person like that, I would absolutely use that strategy. It lets the other person screw themselves more while benefiting you at the same time.

Khalathwyr
Khalathwyr

You know, with this lawsuit, based on it's wording, Walker Digital could have done this years ago. I have to think someone there at WD was just tired of Kotick's and Activision's crap and just decided to take a sledgehammer to their groin. But yeah as Circlestrafe said, ultimately, its us the gamers that are going to lose if this goes through. Even you gamers that don't play Activision games. A suit like this is a door opener and "sets precedent" for future legal action against a game company you may hold dear.

Circlestrafe
Circlestrafe

The best thing about this pathetic lawsuit, we players ultimately pay the bill.

Clarkinator
Clarkinator

@Link3301 Actually it does. Battlegrounds and Arena, mostly Arena but still there is a tournament in there.

Metallicantera
Metallicantera

im going to patent the idea of suing people over completely irrelevant bull **** so every time this happens i get bank. better yet im going to go back in time and patent the wheel.

DanteDelacoix
DanteDelacoix

You there! Random company! Go and sue Activision....it will please me......-evil laughter-

firehawk998
firehawk998

Seriously these lawsuits are stupid. One day I swear to god even using alphabets in a sentence will get you sued.

Link3301
Link3301

But wow doesnt have a tournament mode

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

Now the amendment to the West and Zampella lawsuit makes a bit more sense....

xtimxsmithx
xtimxsmithx

Glad I am not longer addicted to facebook apps. Still its sad how its all about the cash and not about the gaming. And I have to agree with shani_boy101, the patent is just way to broad. Its like taking the patent of a laptop and keeping it to one company. Just because the basis is similar doesnt mean the whole thing is.

deathwish026
deathwish026

ha evil activision getting sued you say ? somehow this actualy pleases me 8)

masterthrall
masterthrall

I think the world would be a better place if everyone just sued one another to death, literally. Thank god for lawyers!

Shardz7
Shardz7

And soon to come: the counter lawsuit from Kotlick claiming it's Yoko Ono's fault and how little green imps spiked their water cooler and one of the programmers envisioned the mystery code in a tortilla. The real irony here is that Activision has more blockbuster lawsuits than successful games lately...and that's not debatable.

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

While I'm happy that Activision is getting sued, this is just plain stupid. That patent is just way too broad, it can apply to any game out there with competitive multiplayer. There needs to be a law reform on patents, They need to be restricted so they aren't too broad (like this) and there needs to be a time limit (say 3 years) for the patent owner to act on the patent and show they are making substantial progress on whatever it is. If they aren't, it gets revoked, permanently. That should stop these BS patents.

Dragon_Nexus
Dragon_Nexus

is it bad that I ended up reading the patent description in Professor Frink's voice?

nathan83_xp
nathan83_xp

load of crap, I'm not defending Activision or Zynga but they have got to be more specific than those ambiguous terms. I mean most mmos that have persistent worlds and conduct arena style competition fall under this category including the oldies, Asheron's Call, which BTW predates the patent.

admund
admund

Hope Activision get's sued, then Kotick can reveal his master-plan to harvest all the pockets of gamers.

strayfies
strayfies

This sounds too close to common resource to be considered for patent defense. I'm not sure what to make of it; if this company gets the rights to centralized code tracking for online-based tournaments (or pluralities of players), they could make an absolute fortune from online play of all kinds.

smoke_dog_4ever
smoke_dog_4ever

Kind of surprised they chose Activision and Zynga... isn't MLG the company that's sole purpose is to provide a means for clans to battle each other in tournies across different platforms and games and divide them into different brackets and whatnot with prizes for winners?

psycho_chan13
psycho_chan13

What happened to the good old days when games use to be fun, all I see now a days is no variety, with all these lame patents and people suing everyone, wheres the joy in making games anymore if people can't even make a video game with what they want, without being sued. I like to work on video games, a few friends of mine and myself have been doing it since 2008 as hobbyists, we never planned to make any money off of anything we made, making money isn't everything, keeping gamers happy is (in my opinion) (Crossing off game design off my list.)

feliscele
feliscele

I want a patent with the description reading "Everything."

Vegna_Infamous
Vegna_Infamous

Assassination anybody? Because all these law suits are getting on my nerves. Believe me, when Star Wars: The Old Republic is released, some company will find some way to sue Bioware for "infringement" on one of it's patents. Of course never existed till it's brought up. I guarantee this will happen.