Lawsuits Against Blizzard, Other Game Makers, Can Proceed

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By Peter Leung

May 4 — Lawsuits against computer game makers including Blizzard Entertainment Inc. can go forward after one of the defendants failed to get a data-related patent killed.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on May 4 affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board's finding that Parallel Networks LLC's patent was not obvious in light of the prior art (Reloaded Games Inc. v. Parallel Networks LLC, 2016 BL 141816, Fed. Cir., No. 2015-1915, 5/4/16).

The court's decision strengthens Parallel's position in what appears to be a wide-ranging campaign to assert the patent against some of the world's most popular online multi-player computer games.

Partial Victory Not Enough

Reloaded Games Inc., one of the defendants, had filed an inter partes review challenging Parallel's U.S. Patent No. 7,188,145, which relates to a method and system for dynamic distributed data caching. The invention claims to address the problem of slow data transmission due to bandwidth limitations.

The board agreed to review the patent but ultimately declined to invalidate any of the challenged claims.

The Federal Circuit affirmed the PTAB's ruling without writing an opinion of its own.

Reloaded successfully challenged the other patent asserted in Parallel's lawsuits, which also related to network data caching. Though the PTAB invalidated the challenged claims in U.S. Patent No. 7,730,262, Parallel's lawsuits continue based on the surviving patent.

The invalidated patent was not part of the Federal Circuit decision.

Going After Big Players

Parallel has filed lawsuits claiming that large computer game makers are infringing its patent. In addition to Reloaded, defendants include Blizzard, which makes “World of Warcraft” and “Diablo III;” Riot Games Inc., the company behind “League of Legends;” and Turbine Games, the creator of an online game set in the “Lord of the Rings” universe.

Parallel has asserted the patent in 18 different lawsuits, with most of the defendants being makers of games where users play together on the Internet. All but six of the cases have been dismissed.

Some of the dismissed defendants include Electronic Arts Inc. and Wizards of the Coast LLC. The only dismissed defendant that was not a game maker was Spotify USA Inc., the company behind the popular music streaming service.

The six remaining cases are in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware before Judge Richard Gibson Andrews.

Judges Kimberly A. Moore, Kathleen M. O'Malley and Todd M. Hughes issued the decision. Erise IP PA represented Reloaded, while McGuireWoods LLP represented Parallel.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Leung in Washington at pleung@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek in Washington at mwilczek@bna.com

For More Information

Federal Circuit opinion available at: http://src.bna.com/eGX.

PTAB final decision available at: http://src.bna.com/eHk.