Zynga’s Patent Infringement Under Alice Test

Justin Farooq

Online game developer Zynga Inc. survived a patent infringement lawsuit asserted by numerous technology companies concerning its online social casino gaming platform on October 13, 2016 when a federal judge in Nevada held that the alleged patents were invalid according to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corporation PTF. LTD. v. CLS Bank International et al.[1] The U.S. Supreme Court held in Alice that abstract ideas executed on a computer are not patent eligible.[2]  The court denied Alice Corp.’s patents on computerized trading methods and created a two part test for figuring out if a patent is eligible for protection under Section 101 of the Patent Act.[3]  First, the court must assess whether the subject matter at issue is aimed at an abstract idea.[4]  The subsequent inquiry is whether the assertions comprise of something “significantly more” than the abstract idea.[5]  If so, they are patent eligible.

Plaintiffs in this case are CG Technology Development LLC, Interactive Games Limited and Interactive Games LLC.[6]  According to the Nevada judge, “The only limitations on the abstract idea are that it involves a server and a remote processor — components which are extraordinarily commonplace in online gaming. These physical devices are used to implement the abstract idea.”[7]  The court said the claim is focused on the abstract idea of using information to decide the most effective tactics for a player’s ensuing move and that this idea of “risk hedging” is not patentable subject matter.[8]

Many attorneys say numerous significant questions regarding how the test will be implemented require much more guidance from Federal Circuits.[9]  As more courts litigate the issue we will see how courts apply, direct and guide the two step rule from Alice.  


[1] Suevon Lee, Zynga Escapes IP Suit Over Casino Gaming Suite Under Alice, Law360 (Oct. 13, 2016, 4:28 PM), https://www.law360.com/technology/articles/851207/zynga-escapes-ip-suit-over-casino-gaming-suite-under-alice.

[2] Id.

[3] Alice Corp. Pty. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 134 S. Ct. 2347, 2358, 189 L. Ed. 2d 296 (2014).

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Lee, supra note 1.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Ryan Davis, 5 Burning Questions About Patent-Eligibility Post-Alice, Law360 (April 3, 2015, 3:07 PM), http://www.law360.com/articles/638936/5-burning-questions-about-patent-eligibility-post-alice.