McRo, Inc. v. Bandai Namco Games America Inc.
Oral Arguments pending at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Filed October 27, 2014
Case No. 15-1080

This case was submitted by plaintiff McRo, Inc. to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit following the decision in favor of defendants. Some of the defendants include Bandai Namco Games America Inc., Sega of America Inc., and Electronic Arts Inc.  Oral arguments are this Friday, December 11, 2015.

The case was originally filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California (case no. 2:12-cv-10322), on December 4, 2012. The patents-in-suit, 6,307,576 and 6,611,278, are entitled, "Method for Automatically Animating Lip Synchronization and Facial Expression of Animated Characters."

Below is an exemplary claim from the '278 patent:

1. A method for automatically animating lip synchronization and facial expression of three-dimensional characters comprising:

obtaining a first set of rules that defines a morph weight set stream as a function of phoneme sequence and times associated with said phoneme sequence;

obtaining a plurality of sub-sequences of timed phonemes corresponding to a desired audio sequence for said three-dimensional characters;

generating an output morph weight set stream by applying said first set of rules to each sub-sequence of said plurality of sub-sequences of timed phonemes; and

applying said output morph weight set stream to an input sequence of animated characters to generate an output sequence of animated characters with lip and facial expression synchronized to said audio sequence.

McRO alleged defendant Bandai infringed the patents-in-suit by using the claimed methods for automatically animating lip synchronization of three-dimensional characters.

The defendants argued McRO’s lip-sync animation patents claimed only an abstract idea under the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Alice decision, and therefore the patents are invalid. McRO argued in the appeals court that the patents-in-suit were not invalid under the Alice case. McRO stated its patents claim a 3-dimensional lip-sync animation. McRO argued that the steps in the patent should be taken as a whole to determine patentability, rather than individually.

 The Alice case held that a patent is valid if the invention improves existing technological processes.

We will be attending oral arguments at the court, and will report any significant updates.

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