Zynga is being taken to court, but not over their games - it's over patents.
Personalized Media Communications filed a patent suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas against Zynga. They claim that the social games maker has infringed on four of their patents.
The complaint alleges that Zynga’s games like Words With Friends and Farmville use PMC’s patented technology. PMC wants a jury trial and Zynga to pay enhanced damages and attorneys’ fees because of “deliberate willfulness on the party of Zynga.”
The patents in question can be perused to your liking here. All four of them in essence cover “the use of control and information signals embedded in electronic media content to generate output for display that is personalized and relevant to a user.”
They claim these patents govern “controlled access of media content, personalized content based on individual attributes, management of downloading technologies, network management, control of targeted advertising and purchase of media and other products.”
PMC points out that they own and license a portfolio of 57 patents that cover inventions they have developed internally over a 30 year period. All of their patents have either a 1981 or 1987 priority date and won’t begin to expire until 2027.
“Many years of time and labor went into developing our inventions and securing the patents that permit their practice,” said PMC chief inventor John C. Harvey who founded the company in 1981. “It wouldn’t be right to sit by and allow them to be infringed.”
I’m not going to say whether or not PMC has a legitimate complaint against Zynga, they very well could. The only problem is that PMC reeks of every other patent troll that goes after successful companies for a piece of their pie. We'll have to wait for more information to be revealed before a verdict can be made.
These kind of patent cases are a dime a dozen, but with Zynga’s involvement it should at least get interesting. We’ll keep you updated on any developments.