Putting 'Game Pieces' Together Online To Win Something Patented; All The Big Social Gaming Companies Sued

from the this-got-a-patent? dept

Someone, who prefers to remain anonymous, sent over the news that a company named Everglades Interactive has sued basically all of the big "social gaming" providers for patent infringement. Among those sued are EA, Playdom, Disney (which just bought Playdom), Zynga, Playfish, Rockyou and Crowdstar. The patent in question? It's patent 6,656,050, for an "odds accelerator for promotional type sweepstakes, games, and contests." If you read the details, it seems like the pretty standard process of taking various sweepstakes involving matching pieces (bottle caps, peel off stickers, etc.) to get certain prizes but moving it online. Of course, once you move such a physical process online, you can do slightly different things since you're not limited by geography and physical distribution. But all that seems like it should be obvious. Not to the patent examiners of course, who judged it patent worthy.

So how do all these social gaming sites infringe?
... by, among other things, making, using, importing, offering for sale, and/or selling products and services that provide game pieces that are applied to a game board at a game site, make information available about the pieces needed to complete a winning combination, allow the player to share or trade the game pieces, and enable the players to easily and securely store game pieces....
Of course, you would think that since pretty much every social gaming system does this, that it would be clear that this was an obvious thing to do if you're building a social gaming system. But, tragically (and ridiculously), that's not how our patent system works.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 28th, 2010 @ 7:30am

    Do the Dew?

    Mountain Dew used to have contests like this where you had to collect number codes from different products and input them into an online system to claim prizes and so forth.

    So....how is there not a ton of prior art for this one?

     

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  2.  
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    R. Miles (profile), Oct 28th, 2010 @ 7:42am

    "But, tragically (and ridiculously), that's not how our patent system works."
    What did you expect when the system went from being funded by tax paying dollars to that of private individuals looking for an easy windfall?

    The fact we still use patents in this system says quite a bit.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2010 @ 7:57am

    Once again, what you want is immunity from lawsuits, but you blame the patent system. The problem you're really complaining about is endemic to civil law. Just about anybody can be sued for anything. You don't need a patent.

     

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  4.  
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    A Dan (profile), Oct 28th, 2010 @ 8:07am

    Re: Do the Dew?

    This is closer to McDonald's Monopoly, where you're trying to collect a set of something. The difference is that they moved it online.

     

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  5.  
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    Modplan (profile), Oct 28th, 2010 @ 8:14am

    Re:

    And granting of a patent gives no more of an opportunity, means or chance of success with lawsuits than not granting it?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Another User, Oct 28th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    Re:

    It isn't about immunity from lawsuits. It is about wasting tax money to support bad business models by suing and not actually producing anything.

     

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  7.  
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    ComputerAddict (profile), Oct 28th, 2010 @ 8:28am

    I really want to see some of the "Obvious" Patents that actually get rejected... When stuff like this starts looking "unique" to someone, I can only imagine the shit that people try and push past these patent reviewers.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Re:

    Yes, but patent laws allow this BS to actually move into courts.

    There are other laws that let people waste money on fighting useless legal battles, but what's wrong with looking this one?

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Dan T., Oct 28th, 2010 @ 8:58am

    Tech patent formula

    That's the traditional formula for Internet-related patents... take something that's been done for decades or centuries using paper or other old-fashioned technologies, describe it with added references to doing it with computers and the Internet, and get a patent on that.

     

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  10.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 28th, 2010 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: Do the Dew?

    I'm still waiting for my patent on "doing obvious shit ON THE INTERNET" to come through. Pity about all this prior art.

     

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  11.  
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    Jay (profile), Oct 28th, 2010 @ 9:20am

    Odds 10:1, Place your bets!

    I'm willing to think that half of these companies will settle just to avoid this lawsuit.

    Two internets and a cookie, going once, going twice...

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2010 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re:

    As much as ten extra gallons of water in the ocean increases the risk of drowning.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2010 @ 9:55am

    Re: Re:

    "Yes, but patent laws allow this BS to actually move into courts.
    There are other laws that let people waste money on fighting useless legal battles, but what's wrong with looking this one?"

    You know, we the people should have a sit down. All 350,000,000 of us not in the 10%, or make 90% of all monies EARNED, own 73% of all land only paying 55% of the tax burden in the USA. And come up with a pay structure to use the court system.

     

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  14.  
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    Pierre Wolff (profile), Oct 28th, 2010 @ 9:59am

    2003 Patent

    While I'm certainly no fan of stupid patents and of business process and software patents more generally, this patent did issue before the social gaming craze. The date of the patent is 2003, before social games and before the companies listed (w/the exception of EA) where in biz. So I don't think one can claim obviousness here since none of these folks were doing or thinking about this when this patent was sought. Having said that, I would doubt the veracity of the patent if the status quo of quality remains the high water mark ;)

     

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  15.  
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    Pierre Wolff (profile), Oct 28th, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Come to think of it, the companies they really should be going after are those like ePrize and a few others in the promotions space, all of which are likely too small to make suing them worthwhile.

     

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  16.  
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    Derek Bredensteiner (profile), Oct 28th, 2010 @ 11:34am

    Re:

    These sorts of bad patents really don't bother you at all? I would think even as someone who staunchly defends the need for a patent system you'd be concerned about these sorts of patents. Could we not talk about the need for a patent system and not talk about the need to deal with the effects (civil lawsuits) and just focus on this patent for 2 seconds? There's clearly plenty of people willing to discuss whatever question you throw out, but don't you think you'll win more support with a rational discussion of the topic at hand instead of derailing the conversation? You get more attention with derailing, which I guess maybe is your goal? But I genuinely think you'll be more effective and get closer to your goals if you consider rational discourse some of the time.

     

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  17.  
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    marak (profile), Oct 28th, 2010 @ 2:30pm

    Why the rest of the world listens to the US patent office anymore has me scratching my head :P

    Seriously almost makes me want to be american, i could patent breathing if i worded it confusingly enough i reckon!

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Bob Monkey, Oct 28th, 2010 @ 9:05pm

    The patent is supported by only interface design pictures and a description of sweepstakes that uses tokens and that optionally do any of the following: trade tokens between users, use multiple tokens for a prize. Used for years by soda companies, raffles, casinos, arcades, video games companies this patents any implementation of this game mechanic. This sort of mechanic isn't even a mechanic, but a strategy certainly employed naturally among humans for years called trade. Trade for a prize certainly occurred at kid's birthday parties. The definition of obvious, expanded in KSR vs Teleflex (it struck down a too narrow interpretation by the federal court of appeals) must invalidate this patent.

    http://news.priorsmart.com/everglades-interactive-v-playdom-l3jj/

    This company probably never even bothered to code this 1 hour comp sci 201 project. I'd love to do a livestream implementing this BS

    Techcrunch as the press needs to fight against the injustice of patents and for the rights of the individual in an economic market. This is critically important for economic activity and access across the globe. Techcrunch srsly should have been purchased by a democratic press company

    Was posted on techdirt a little while ago

    The patent office needs to rectify KSR vs Teleflex violating patents and take an extreme stance against obviousness and do what is good for the world and the people of the USA

    techdirt and torrentfreak is the truth and the voice of the poor and the individual

    Newsfeed of patent cases: http://www.rfcexpress.com/patent-lawsuits.asp

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Laurie, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 5:25am

    Solution

    Do what we do in Canada. If you lose the lawsuit , you have to pay court costs. It really cuts down on frivolous lawsuits.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 5:43am

    Junk Patent Problem Yet Again

    Take the reward away from these crooks. Stop letting crime pay. Repeal the part of the law that says patent infringement is illegal. Get rid of the concept. It is that part of the law which is feeding the trolls. Take it away from them. It is unjust to have such large penalties attached to such a poor quality collection of patents. The USPTO has failed to maintain patent quality, in defiance of its own legislation, so it should get punished accordingly, by having its right to grant monopolies revoked.

    It is time for the patent system to transition to something voluntary. It should become a freely searchable repository of technical knowledge, organised as best the USPTO can manage. We will see how they manage, with their capacity to do harm greatly reduced.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Yeebok (profile), Oct 29th, 2010 @ 6:19am

    In a broad sense doesn't that mean they should go for scrabble and chess sites as well ?

    I don't live there but that's one crazy patent.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    staff, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 6:28am

    lather

    "But all that seems like it should be obvious. "

    Don't get all worked in to a lather. If the defendants have anything near proof the patent is invalid all they need do is file for reexam and the PTO will most always grant. Keep in mind it costs patentees plenty to bring suit. If they truly thought their patent was invalid, they wouldn't risk the money. Have a beer and chill out.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Phil, Dec 30th, 2010 @ 12:22pm

    Everyone is suing everyone nowadays, it's just insane!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    deme, May 20th, 2011 @ 10:34am

    doswen

    they say waaat and wat da hek u freak and fuckn

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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