A company called Gametek has filed lawsuits in the Southern District of California against Facebook, Zynga, Electronic Arts, and many other companies in the social games business, claiming infringement of its U.S. patent No. 7,076,445, which relates to virtual currency and goods.
The patent, which was filed on September 29, 2000 and issued July 11, 2006 credits Shawn D. Cartwright as the inventor of “a system and methods allowing the creation, integration, and transaction of advantages (e.g. desired environment features and/or elements).”
Paid Content reports that the patent was assigned to to Theados Corporation, which in turn transferred the patent to a California shell company called Gametek LLC which filed the complaint.
We traced Gametek LLC to Acacia Research Group LLC, which partners with “primarily individual inventors and small companies with limited resources to deal with unauthorized users but include some large companies wanting to generate revenues from their patented technologies.” We have reached out to Acaia but they have yet to respond.
The complaint names companies like 6wave, Lolaps, Big Viking Games as well as specific games like CityVille, Crime City, FarmVille, and Mafia Wars 2.
The complaint mainly asks that the Court issue a permanent injunction to stop the defendants from infringing on Gametek’s ‘445 patent and to entitle Gametek to 2.5 percent of all revenue backdated since they acquired the patent (2006), up until 2020.
A source on the side of the defendants told us that this is a huge threat to social gaming: “During early stages of game creation, social game companies run on a loss and at best a razor-thin profit. A further percentage taken off from *all* social game developers – as this will inevitably lead to – would be crippling.”