IBM Takes on Zynga, Alleging Infringement of Big Data Analytics Patents

A lawsuit filed on Tuesday in the District of Delaware has accused Zynga Inc. and subsidiary Chartboost Inc. of infringing four International Business Machines Corporation patents. IBM asserts that for the better part of a decade, it has tried to negotiate with Zynga over the use of its patented technology without resolution, thus forcing it to seek judicial intervention. 

The 63-page complaint explains that Zynga “is nominally a gaming company,” while industry insiders know that Zynga is a “‘big data company disguised as [a] gaming company.’” As such, IBM says that the defendant relies on sophisticated data collection, processing, and analytics technology to deliver games, such as Farmville, and advertisements to millions of users.

IBM says that it is “in the innovation business” and has a portfolio of patents in areas including big data analytics, digital marketplaces, and web-based business. IBM argues that Zynga acknowledges IBM’s expertise however, “decided to incorporate IBM’s prior innovations in big data, analytics, and online advertising instead of spending the time and money to develop its own techniques.”

According to the filing, IBM has tried to negotiate with both Zynga and Chartboost to work out a licensing scheme. Unfortunately, the complaint says, “Zynga has chosen to willfully infringe IBM’s patents and even expanded its infringing activity.”

The filing states four claims for relief, two against Zynga, two against Chartboost, for the infringement of four patents. The filing contends that both parties commit direct infringement and induce third parties, gamers, to infringe, “including by binding the users to a terms of service governing access to and use of the accused websites and mobile applications.”

The filing seeks compensatory and treble damages and injunctive relief barring the defendants from further transgression. IBM is represented by Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP.