History books – if they haven't already – will probably label the 1980s as the "Music Video Era" followed with naming the '90s as the "Dawn of the Common Internet." For the 2000s? That will probably be labeled something like the "Dawn of the App" whereas our current decade, the 2010s, will surely go down in history as the "Age of Patent Infringement Lawsuits." Disagree? Just look at the headlines each week.
Here's one fine example: while Markus "Notch" Persson is currently offering to settle a dispute with Bethesda outside the court system (in a game of Quake 3 Arena no less), Pantheon developer Agincourt Gaming has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Farmville developer (and Facebook sidekick) Zynga. Both of these headlines, probably out of many, appeared just on Wednesday alone.
While the "Scrolls" subject was covered in another post, the complaint against Zynga was filed earlier today in U.S. District Court in Delaware. According to Reuters, Texas-based Agincourt Gaming claims that it "owns foundational patents that claim priority back to 1996 and cover the processes for credits-based online gaming and a prize redemption system based on the outcome of game play."
The lawsuit alleges that twelve Zynga games violate its patents including FarmVille, Mafia Wars, FishVille, and Zynga Poker. According to a recent filing by Zynga with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company's internal valuation is currently at $11 billion. Agincourt Games alleges that Zynga's rapid growth isn't driven by its own ingenuity.
"Rather it has been widely reported that Zynga's business model is to copy creative ideas and game designs from other game developers and then use its market power to bulldoze the games' originators," the complaint reads. "Consistent with this reported copycat business strategy, Zynga has also violated Agincourt Gaming's intellectual property rights."
In addition to the financial damages, Agincourt Gaming is requesting that Zynga shut down the twelve games listed in the lawsuit. As of this writing, Zynga has not responded to the lawsuit.
The case is Agincourt Gaming LLC v Zynga Inc, U.S. District Court, Delaware, No. 11-0072O.