Tiny company sues Zynga for patent infringement

Posted by Mark Raby

Agincourt Gaming, a company that has just entered the social gaming space, is looking to take down its biggest competitor.

Agincourt, which most people have surely never even heard of, is the maker of nascent Facebook game Pantheon, but it says it owns patents relating to the industry dating back to 1996.

So it decided to wait until the second half of 2011 to realize Zynga has been violating some of those patents; the company has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Delaware.

According to the company's recently filed legal measure, it owns patents that "cover the processes for credits-based online gaming and a prize redemption system based on the outcome of game play."

Is that generic enough for anyone? Apparently Agincourt thinks that virtually every Zynga game, including Farmville and Mafia Wars, is using ideas that it owns the sole rights to.

"Zynga's remarkable growth has not been driven by its own ingenuity. Rather it has been widely reported that Zynga's business model is to copy creative ideas and game designs from other game developers and then use its market power to bulldoze the games' originators. Consistent with this reported copycat business strategy, Zynga has also violated Agincourt Gaming's intellectual property rights," the complaint continues.

Zynga is the leader in the social game space, and any time a company is at the top it's sure to face all sorts of battles like this. It's highly unlikely this case will ever go to court, but even if it does Agincourt will have a tough time winning anything.

More likely, though, Zynga will settle for a relatively small amount, which is surely all that Agincourt is looking for anyway.