Lawsuit Against Facebook, EA, Zynga May Be The Attack Of A Patent Troll

Lawsuit Against Facebook, EA, Zynga May Be The Attack Of A Patent Troll

GameTek was originally the company that once operated as a video game publisher known for TV game show adaptations. But since the ’90s wave of those games has washed over, and the company shut its doors in 1997 after hitting bankruptcy, it has since become the business licence of an unknown company.

What is known about this mysterious company of the same name, however, is that it is suing some of the biggest names in the gaming industry.

Citing US Patent # 7076445 — “System and methods for obtaining advantages and transacting the same in a computer gaming environment” — the lawsuit includes charges against Facebook, EA and Zynga amongst the 21 total defendants.

Although ownership of the patent has been passed around a few times since its inception in 2000, it now rests in the hands of GameTek. Basically, GameTek is suing these companies for selling in-game goods at in-game prices. Their demands from the court are to rule in favour of GameTek that the companies in question did indeed infringe on the patent, and to prevent them from doing so again in the future.

It’s not hard to think up games that use virtual currency to allow players to shop around for in-game items. Facebook is certainly a big advocate of games that use this model. But where do you draw the line when hundreds of RPGs are host to NPCs offering you fruits, mana potions and axes for sale?

Facebook, Zynga and Other Social Companies Hit with Patent Suit [Industry Gamers]


  • Actually, this could be (underline and highlight the COULD) quite terrible if the judge rules in favour of the company. Like Tina writes, where do you draw the line at currency? With Blizzard and others arguing that their virtual currency is worthy of the same protection of “true” life money (see their battles against the gold farmers)…well…this could mean bad things.

    Because that means that you have been paying for things in an MMO with the equivalent of real currency (“System and methods for obtaining advantages and transacting the same in a computer gaming environment”), which then may bring this case onto WoW, SWTOR and a whole host of other MMOs.

    Then again, I have almost zero knowledge of video game law (my academic stuff was done in another field). Anybody out there have any knowledge of the whole virtual currency/real currency issue? Is my logic flawed? Am I asking too many questions? What would happen if I ended my post on a stupid question?

    • Forget MMO’s, “Buying ingame items with ingame currency” is almost every RPG in existence, as well as tons of other games. Link buying a shield with rupees. Buying new cars in Grand Turismo. Buying guns in Mass Effect. All ingame items with ingame currency.

  • patents should be awarded for innovation not imagination, and tech patents have a shorter lifespan. Once they reach the end of the lifespan that’s it, throwing a fresh coat of paint on old patents and then trying to pass them off as new is a crap way of destroying the growth as a whole in the tech world. make better products, not better lawyers.

  • Isn’t a patent supposed to be new, useful and non-obvious?

    While this may, at some point, have been new, and is certainly useful it is also bloody obvious. the patent itself should be thrown out along with the lawsuit.

  • To be honest I am sick and tired of hearing about Farcebook, it is full of self absorbed attention seekers. Not worth using.

    • It’s very much worth using.

      I’ve got friends and family scattered all over the country (and some in other countries). Facebook gives us a way to all keep in touch with each other. I’ve got little nieces and nephews in other cities who are growing up very quickly – I only get to see them once or twice a year in person, but their parents can (and do) put up photos and videos regularly so those of us in other places can still keep up with how they’re going.

  • If you are closed minded and cannot find other more personable means of communication then sure, continue with your ways. I have many friends and family in other countries and it really is not hard to start a skype call or send a quick email. I have used Facebook – it is incessant rubbish and totally anti social.

    • What’s the difference between emailing the photos and posting them on Facebook? You’re arguing that it’s anti-social, then suggest a method that is equally anti-social. You’re speaking like someone who has never used it and is using any excuse you can get (and I mean ANY, Facebook had NOTHING to do with this article, except that it happens to be one of the defendants) to bash it. Then you criticise others for being “closed minded.” That’s a little hypocritical.

  • Maybe they’re doing it for good?
    Maybe they’ll only use this on companies like Zynga who are inherently evil in every way shape and form.

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