Zynga sued for alleged patent infringement

Agincourt Gaming claims the maker of FarmVille is infringing on its intellectual property.

Zynga has been sued in a federal district court in Delaware for allegedly infringing on two patents obtained in the 1990's by Agincourt Gaming.

According to a statement announcing the legal action by Agincourt's law firm Susman Godfrey L.L.P., Zynga's FarmVille has violated Agincourt's patents covering the processes for credits-based online gaming and for prize redemption based on the outcome of game play. The suit also claims that the following games are infringing on Agincourt's intellectual property: FishVille, PetVille, YoVille, Zynga Poker, Empires & Allies, Mafia Wars, Treasure Isle, FrontierVille, CityVille, CaféWorld, and Vampire Wars.

The lawsuit alleges that Zynga has a history of copying, rather than innovating.

Agincourt is seeking an unspecified amount in monetary damages. If the suit is successful, Agincourt may hit the jackpot -- considering it currently operates just one single online game called Pantheon.

"Agincourt's patents cover the most lucrative aspects of online social gaming -- including those comprising the bulk of Zynga's revenues -- as they contain the crucial link' that allows for global, interactive prize redemption over the Internet," states Bill Carmody, a senior partner at Susman Godfrey L.L.P.

Susman Godfrey explains that the market for selling virtual objects in online games is "remarkably robust" and expanding rapidly. It's predicted that consumers will spend $653 million this year on goods purchased in social network games, a 28 percent jump from last year's $510 million.

Zynga is positioned to capture the lion's share of that market, according to the law firm. It is by far the largest online game developer in the world. It has four of the five top games on Facebook that attract 270 million active users a month. In addition, in 2010 it took in almost $600 million in revenues.

Last month, the company filed to launch an Initial Public Offering (IPO) for an eye-popping $20 billion.

From that IPO filing, it was evident that Zynga could see lawsuits in its tarot cards. "[D]uring our earlier history our practices relating to intellectual property¦may not have been as robust as they are now, and there may be unasserted claims arising from this period that we are not able to anticipate," it said.

Even before it filed for its IPO, the company was targeted by patent holders who believe they deserve a cut of Zynga's action. In January, an invention firm started by Priceline.com founder Jay Walker filed a lawsuit against Zynga and Activision Blizzard, alleging the companies' most popular games infringe on Walker Digital's online tournament patent.

News of the lawsuit broke as unconfirmed reports were circulating the Internet that Zynga was taking its Farmville formula to the mobile space by purchasing a company called Astro Ape. Astro Ape's game portfolio includes Office Heroes, a social game in which your "farm" is an office.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags social networkslegalgaminggamesintellectual propertypatentZynga

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John P. Mello Jr.

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?