GREE, Inc. v. Supercell Oy
Case No. 2-19-cv-00070
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
Jury Verdict September 18, 2020
Once again. this case is yet another patent dispute between Japanese game maker GREE Inc. (“GREE”) and Finland-based Supercell Oy (“Supercell”), the creator of mobile games Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, and Brawl Stars. The patents asserted in the suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 9,597,594 (“the ’594 Patent”), 9,604,137 (“the ’137 Patent”), 9,774,655 (“the ’655 Patent”), 9,795,873 (“the ’873 Patent”) and 9,956,481 (“the ’481 Patent) (collectively “the Asserted Patents”) relating to server and game control methods, such as allowing players to copy layout templates, in-game fund calculation, player interaction, and player aim assist.
On August 24th, the District Court adopted a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation from August 6th and denied Supercell’s motion for partial summary judgment. Supercell argued that the Asserted Patents are directed to patent-ineligible abstract ideas. In Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l et al., the Supreme Court created a two-part framework for subject matter eligibility. First, courts must determine whether a patent’s claims are directed to an abstract idea. Second, if a patent’s claims are directed to an abstract idea, courts are to determine whether a claim may be patentable despite being directed to an abstract idea.
The magistrate judge found that the ’655 Patent is directed to “the abstract idea of a fundamental economic practice” under Step One of Alice because the “practice of giving and receiving gifts, and even receiving bonuses, are examples of human activity and fundamental economic practices that have been prevalent for ages.” Under Step Two, the judge found that the ’655 Patent’s claims of a server that “tracks transfer information among users, and not only facilitates a first user’s request to a server to send a second user a particular digital content, but also determines the recipient’s eligibility to receive an additional object” contains an inventive concept beyond “the abstract idea of transferring objects among users,” and is therefore patent eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The ’137 and ’481 Patents, which have the same specification and inventors and were analyzed together, are “drawn toward networked terminal devices in communication with a server that provides a game.” The magistrate judge found that the ’137 and ’481 Patents’ claims are “directed to an improvement in computer functionality” which is not a patent-ineligible abstract idea. The magistrate judge also found the ’873 Patent, which describes “using one touch operation to display a frame indicative of a shooting effective range and a second touch operation to control the attack” on a touch screen is not directed to abstract idea because the “claims are directed to a particular manner of mimicking shooting in small, handheld electronic devices, not merely replicating a human activity on a computer.”
On September 18th, a federal jury in Texas returned a jury verdict form finding that Supercell had infringed at least one claim of the five patents asserted by GREE, and awarded GREE $8.5 million in damages. The verdict form only asked whether Supercell had infringed any of the asserted claims in the five patents, and did not ask the jury to specify which claim(s) of which patent(s) it found were infringed. Supercell counterclaimed that four of the five patents at issue (excluding the ’594 Patent relating to copying layout templates of cities) were invalid, but the jury denied these counterclaims.
We will continue to provide updates on the various ongoing lawsuits between GREE and Supercell.