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Inventor Holdings, LLC v. [Multiple Defendants]
United States District Court for the District of Delaware
File Nos. 1-14-cv-01067 (Gameloft); 1-14-cv-01068 (Glu Mobile); 1-14-cv-01069 (Kabam); 1-14-cv-01070 (King.com); 1-14-cv-01071 (ngmoco); 1-14-cv-01072 (Rovio); 1-14-cv-01073 (Supercell)

In several new lawsuits filed August 19, 2014, plaintiff Inventor Holdings, LLC argues that several popular mobile games infringe newly granted U.S. Pat. No. 8,784,198.  The '198 patent claims priority dating back to February 18, 2000 and discusses providing unlock codes for unlockable "outcomes."  The patentee wasted no time in filing this lawsuit: the '198 patent was granted on July 22, 2014.

While the body of the '198 patent discusses the concept of "outcomes" at a high level and across a range of implementations, the claims of the '198 patent are directed to a mobile device providing a game with a locked outcome and associated benefit.  The benefit is provided to a user when the game receives a signal with an unlock code.  Some examples of the benefits include continued access to the game, an enhancement or modification to the game, and an advancement within the game.  

Claim 18 is representative and recites:
18. A non-transitory computer-readable medium storing instructions for directing a processor of a mobile device to perform a method, the method comprising:
     facilitating play of a game on the mobile device by recognizing inputs provided by a user via an input mechanism of the mobile device, at least one of the inputs causing progress in the game;
     receiving a signal comprising an unlock code;
     determining a locked outcome of the game;
     unlocking the locked outcome of the game using the unlock code, thereby determining an unlocked outcome;
     determining an intra-game benefit associated with the unlocked outcome; and
     providing the intra-game benefit to the user by incorporating the intra-game benefit into the game.

Some of the notable games accused here include "Kim Kardashian: Hollywood," "Clash of Clans," and "Marvel War of Heroes."  To any extent these claims are interpreted to read on unlocking content included in an installed game by sending an unlock code to the game, these cases could impact unlockable game content and microtransactions.  As both of these features have become increasingly common in video games of all sorts, this case could have an impact throughout the industry.

We'll continue to monitor these cases for any interesting developments.
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