Recently, Personalized Media Communications (PMC) has filed a lawsuit against Zynga in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, claiming that Zynga has infringed upon four of its patents. Notably, this isn’t the first time Zynga has been accused of copyright infringement.
Personalized Media Communications founder John C. Harvey has gone on to state:
“Many years of time and labor went into developing our inventions and securing the patents that permit their practice,”
“It wouldn’t be right to sit by and allow them to be infringed.”
PMC alleges that three of Zynga’s games—CityVille, Words with Friends, and Farmville—have used PMC’s technology. This technology is detailed in four patents that PMC owns, specifically numbers 7,797,717; 7,908,638; 7,734,251; and 7,860,131. These patents 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.” The patents also cover “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,” states a report from Gamasutra.
Analysis: Given that the patents are quite vague and could certainly be used against a number of companies, this seems to be a test run to see whether any cash can be extracted from a billion-dollar company like Zynga. What’s even more noteworthy is that East Texas has become a haven of sorts for patent cases similar to this one because—and here’s the kicker—they almost always rule in favor of the patent owners.
We’ve covered several of these types of cases over the past few months, and this case appears to be no different than the others. All the telltale signs seem to be there: it’s being filed by an obscure company against a big-name company filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. It’s a troll case if I’ve ever seen one. Sometimes, it really is that simple.
However, after Zynga’s recent track record for taking more than just a little inspiration from smaller companies’ successful games, can anyone really have sympathy for the company at the moment?