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IQ Biometrix, Inc. v. Perfect World Entertainment, Inc. et al.
United States District Court for N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
Case No.: 1:09-cv-03180, Filed May 27, 2009

IQ Biometrix, Inc. on May 27, 2009, filed a new lawsuit against Perfect World Entertainment, Inc., Perfect World Co, Ltd., and Wagware Systems, Inc. for alleged patent infringement regarding two separate patents.

The plaintiff, IQ Biometrix, Inc., provides facial image composite software, marketed under the name FACES, which is used by law enforcement agencies worldwide, including the CIA, the FBI and the U.S. Military.

Defendant Perfect World Co. Ltd. is a China-based online game company and maker of the popular fantasy-based MMORPG Perfect World which offers gamers significant avatar customization and player-created content. Defendant Perfect World Entertainment is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Perfect World Co. Ltd., established in the U.S. in 2008 to localize and publish Perfect World in North America. More info on defendants here and here.

Defendant Wagware focuses primarily on developing software applications for handheld platforms. One of its products, MakeFaces, is a children’s game designed to allow the user to combine different styles of facial features (e.g., eyes, nose, hair) to make funny faces.

IQ Biometrix alleges that Perfect World Entertainment and Perfect World Co. infringe IQ Biometrix’s patent 6,731,302 by providing the online game Perfect World, likely because of the avatar customization the game provides. The ‘302 patent, titled Method and Apparatus for Creating Facial Images, is for a process of creating a facial composites by selecting “basic morphological elements” or facial features from a library of encoded features and merging them into a single synthetic image with proportional components, thus reducing contrasts between the individually selected features. The invention appears applicable to systems used in law enforcement, artistic creations, education, and recreation (such as creating personalized characters in gaming).

Representative Claims 6 & 16 of the '302 patent read as follows:
6. A method for generating a composite facial image, said method comprising the steps of:
a) providing a machine-readable storage medium for storing graphical representations of basic morphological elements, said graphical representations being proportionate to one another and having respective boundaries, the graphical representations of basic morphological elements including skin components around their respective boundaries, the skin components having skin tones substantially similar to one another;
b) receiving user data indicative of a set of data elements, each data element in said set of data elements being associated to a respective graphical representation of a basic morphological element in the machine-readable storage medium;
c) processing the set of data elements to locate in the machine-readable storage medium corresponding graphical representations of basic morphological elements;
d) combining the graphical representations of basic morphological elements located to generate a digital representation of a facial image, at least two graphical representations being combined such that their skin components having substantially similar skin tones meet at a boundary; and
e) displaying the digital representation of the facial image on display means.

16. A method for generating an electronic library of basic morphological elements suitable for usage in a composite picture system, said method comprising the steps of:
a) providing a plurality of facial images;
b) digitizing the facial images;
c) processing the digitized facial images to create a plurality of graphical representations of basic morphological elements of a certain facial image, said graphical representations of basic morphological elements including skin components having different skin tones;
d) applying a filtering process to said graphical representations of basic morphological elements to derive modified graphical representations, the modified graphical representations including skin components having skin tones substantially similar to one another;
e) processing said modified graphical representations to generate calibrated graphical representations, said calibrated graphical representations being substantially proportional to one another; and
f) storing the calibrated graphical representations on a computer-readable storage medium.
IQ Biometrix has also alleged that Perfect World Entertainment and Wagware (through Perfect World and MakeFaces computer games, respectively) infringe on its patent 7,289,647, titled System and Method for Creating and Displaying a Composite Facial Image. The ‘647 patent consists of 44 claims directed to various processes for the encoding/decoding of images that can be separated into their constituent parts (i.e., individual facial features) as may be used in composite picture systems. This type of encoding of the images allows for reducing the memory requirements for storage and the bandwidth required for the transmission of the image (by storing and transmitting a facial code rather than a graphical representation).

Representative Claims 1 & 34 read as follows:
1. A method, comprising:
receiving a number of facial feature designations;
generating element codes corresponding to the facial feature designations, each element code based on:
(a) a symbol representative of a facial feature, the symbol having one of a plurality of values indicative of variations of the facial feature, and
(b) a first code factor having a value that equals or exceeds a maximum value of the plurality of values indicative of the variations of the facial feature; and
displaying a composite image based on the element codes corresponding to the facial feature designations.

34. A system, comprising:
a screen; and
a processor for controlling the screen to display a number of facial feature images on a first area of a screen and to display a composite facial image on a second area of the screen, said composite image including facial feature images selected from the first screen area, the processor automatically generating element codes corresponding to the selected facial feature images, each element code based on:
(a) a symbol representative of a facial feature, the symbol having one of a plurality of values indicative of variations of the facial feature, and
(b) a first code factor having a value that equals or exceeds a maximum value of the plurality of values indicative of the variations of the facial feature, the composite image based on element codes corresponding to the selected facial feature images.
IQ Biometrix has requested a jury trial and seeks injunctive relief and damages.

We've added this case to our tracking list and will provide updates of major developments. The full text of the complaint with accompanying patents can be downloaded here.

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