Activision Blizzard faces patent trial after Texas court ruling

2 minute read

The entrance to the Activision Blizzard Inc. campus is shown in Irvine, California, August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

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  • Luxembourg company sued Blizzard over data-storage tech
  • Court rejected Blizzard's attempt to have patent invalidated, setting stage for February trial
  • Microsoft set to acquire Blizzard for $69 billion

(Reuters) - A unit of video game giant Activision Blizzard has lost a bid to throw out a long-running lawsuit in Texas federal court that accuses it of profiting from another company's patented technology.

A U.S. district judge in Austin said Wednesday that Blizzard Entertainment Inc failed to prove a patent owned by Luxembourg-based AC Technologies SA and licensed in the U.S. by plaintiff Via Vadis LLC was invalid, denying its request to end the case before a scheduled February trial.

The decision came a day after Microsoft Corp said it planned to buy Activision Blizzard for nearly $69 billion in the biggest gaming deal in history.

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AC Techs and Via Vadis first sued Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of popular games including World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and the Diablo series, in 2014. It alleged Blizzard's game launcher and system for downloading game files infringed its patent related to storing and accessing data.

The court ruled for Blizzard in 2019 after invalidating relevant parts of the patent, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit revived the case in 2020.

Blizzard moved for summary judgment last year, arguing again that the patent is invalid and that its system doesn't infringe.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel adopted a magistrate's recommendation to deny Blizzard's motion. The magistrate said, among other things, that Blizzard hadn't proven that part of the patent was too vague, or that its system worked in a non-infringing way.

The plaintiffs' attorney Andrew DiNovo of DiNovo Price said Thursday that they were looking forward to next month's scheduled trial. A lawyer for Blizzard declined to comment.

A separate lawsuit filed by AC Techs and Via Vadis against Amazon over the same patent is still ongoing. A magistrate judge in that case recommended Tuesday that the patent should be found valid.

The case is Via Vadis LLC v. Blizzard Entertainment Inc, U.S. District for the Western District of Texas, No. 1:14-cv-00810.

For AC Techs and Via Vadis: Andrew DiNovo of DiNovo Price

For Blizzard: Daniel Shvodian of Perkins Coie

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com