Everglades Interactive, LLC has filed a patent litigation against a number of social game companies for alleged infringement of USP 6,656,050. The patent is entitled "Odds Accelerator for Promotional Type Sweepstakes, Games, and Contests."
A sample claim of the patent is as follows:
A method enabling at least one player to increase a likelihood of winning at least one of a collect-and-win game and a match-and-win game promotion while simultaneously increasing an appeal of said game to the player and thus making a substantially more valuable system for a promoter, comprising the steps of: providing at least one game piece to at least one player; applying said game piece to an appropriate game board at a game site; making game piece information available to said player, said game piece information indicative of needed game pieces needed to complete a winning combination of game pieces to thereby win said game, whereby the player may share or trade game pieces with at least one other player, enabling said player and said other player to easily and securely store said game pieces for future use.
The patent is based on a provisional application (2001/0028708) which was filed on August 4, 2000, and a utility application (09/920,940) which was filed on August 3, 2001. Based on our preliminary research, this patent will be heavily attacked for invalidity based on prior art that easily predates this patent. It will also face challenges for failing to constitute patent eligible subject matter under Section 101 under the recently announced test in the Bilski case.
The number of social game-related patent applications and patent lawsuits being file is increasing. Yet, many companies in this space have not focused much on patents. This and other recent activity, such as Zynga's attempt to patent aspects of using virtual currency (see our prior blog post), should be catalyst to cause more companies to ensure that they are considering patent protection for their social games offerings and taking steps to minimize liability for infringement of others' patents.