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Achates Reference Publishing, Inc. v. Symantec Corporation et al.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
Case No. 11-cv-00294, Filed June 20, 2011

Achates Publishing, a Texas enterprise, has sued a slew of companies, including Symantec, Electronic Arts, and Valve LLC, alleging patent infringement. The patents in question are U.S. Patent Numbers 5,982,889, titled “Method and Apparatus for Distributing Information Products,” and 6,173,403, a continuation-in-part of the ‘889 patent, titled same. The patents describe methods for authenticating and activating software in a way that distributes “information products without many of the costs and restrictions associated with techniques in the prior art.”

Especially relevant to video games are the claims that EA’s Sims games and Valve’s Left4Dead and HalfLife games infringe these patents. Achates alleges that “defendants have infringed the '889 patent and the '403 patent by making, using, selling, and offering for sale software that uses the product activation technology described and claimed in the '889 and '403 patents, without authority of Achates.”

This is the third time in four years that Achates has brought suit to defend these patents. The first suit, in November 2007, was brought against Microsoft, and was dismissed in December 2008, at request of the parties. The second suit was filed in November 2009 against nine software companies, including McAfee and Intuit. Those cases were all dismissed by August 2010, again by request of the parties, after they reached an undisclosed agreement.

In this latest suit, Achates is seeking a determination of infringement, treble (triple) damages for willful infringement, attorneys’ fees and a permanent injunction. This case isn't exactly focused on video games, so our updates may be minimal.

For more on this case, visit Law360.
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