Thursday August 18,2011 : According to reports from the Bloomberg business news agency, the major Facebook games developer Zynga Inc. is facing a patent action from Agincourt Gaming LLC, which has alleged that the San Francisco games developer has infringed two of its patents in an action that embraces Zynga Poker and other popular social networking games.
Zynga is currently preparing for a much-publicised initial public offering, and the news will therefore be less than welcome; the company has thus far declined to comment on the case or the allegations.
Agincourt Gaming's lawyers have not been so reticent, however. Susman Godfrey LLP, the law firm representing Agincourt, issued a statement on the issue this week, noting that back in September last year the San Francisco Weekly reported that Zynga founder Marck Pincus was said to have told an employee “You’re not smarter than your competitor. Just copy what they do and do it until you get their numbers.”
In its lawsuit, filed in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, Agincourt seeks unspecified damages and a court order barring the conduct. In dispute are patents 6,758,755, issued in July 2004; and 6,306,035, issued in October 2001.
The patents cover processes for credit-based online gaming and a prize-redemption system based on the outcome of game play, according to Dallas-based Agincourt’s complaint.
“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,” Bill Carmody, a senior partner at Susman Godfrey, said in the statement.
Zynga is also facing a separate patent action launched last month by Segan LLC, a Long Island City, New York firm that has also lodged a complaint in the Delaware federal court.
Bloomberg reports that Zynga was founded in 2007 and turned profitable in 2010 with net income of $90.6 million. The company, which filed July 1 to raise $1 billion in an IPO, owns four of the most popular applications on Facebook. It claims over 232 million active monthly users of its games.