Tuesday May 13,2014 : POKERSTARS US ZOOM POKER PATENT SUCCESSFUL?
Set for issuance on May 20, 2014
Described as a "surprising turn of events, after multiple decisive rejections" by gaming and intellectual property lawyer Bill Gantz of Dentons Legal Firm , Rational Group's Zoom Poker patent application has been permitted for amendment by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and will reportedly be issued on May 20, 2014 under U.S. Patent Number 8,727,850.
The patent titled "Computer Gaming Device and Method for Computer Gaming" has a long history dating back to December 2008. The original patent application which was submitted by Full Tilt Poker for its Rush Poker product was obtained by Pokerstars as part of its settlement with the United States Department of Justice (see previous InfoPowa reports) in 2012.
Full Tilt's Rush Poker Patent Application at the time had been rejected by the same patent examiner numerous times who said the mechanics of the patent, which covered a player being reassigned to another table automatically, had been previously applied for by R. Martin Oliveras.
However, PokerStars pursued the application, meeting with a new patent examiner early last year. Subsequent to that meeting, PokerStars withdrew 51 previous claims and submitted 53 new ones, confirms Gantz, applications which were also rejected by the USPTO until a second interview in March 2014 where an amendment to the application was suggested by the Examiner.
"The Examiner found and cited both prior art and common sense in the January 31, 2014 rejection for every step of the claimed invention with the exception of configuring the server to prevent a player from playing the folded hand", said Gantz. "It is truly surprising here that the Pokerstars application survived multiple wholesale rejections, and that this patent appears to have issued because the prior art available to the Examiner simply did not teach that a game server should be configured to prevent a player who folds from playing the hand they just folded. Everyone knows a fold means you are out of the hand. It is also surprising that the patent issued over prior art cited by the Examiner teaching taking a fold ‘out of turn.'"
As it currently stands, the patent issuance would affect real-money online fast-fold poker in the U.S. market but will have little or no effect on the European fast-fold poker market.
Fast-fold poker products potentially affected from operating or launching in the U.S. market would most likely include PartyPoker in partnership with Borgata in New Jersey, Zynga's Jump Poker product, Bovada's Zone Poker, Amaya Gaming's Strobe Poker product and 888 in partnership with WSOP.com in Nevada and New Jersey.
"The amendments which allowed this patent to issue should seem obvious to the entire poker industry, and there should be ample grounds for vigorously challenging this patent," Gantz concludes.