Priceline creator sues Activision, Zynga

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

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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.
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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