Skillz Platform Sues AviaGames for Patent Infringement

Mobile gaming company Skillz Platform Inc. filed a complaint Monday in the Northern District of California against AviaGames Inc. for its purported patent infringement of the Skillz Platform with its own platform and competing games.

According to the complaint, “AviaGames set out, seemingly from the get-go, to steal Skillz’s highly valuable intellectual property in the form of copyrights and patents.” The plaintiff claimed that, in 2012, it “developed innovative technologies to invent a new kind of mobile gaming platform (the ‘Skillz Platform’),” which purportedly “connects millions of players across the country in meaningful, fun, and – most importantly – fair competition” and “enables thousands of independent mobile game developers to transform new and existing games into skill-based competitions that have proven extremely profitable for game developers and players alike.” 

Skillz asserted that it offers a free Software Development Kit (SDK) in its developer portal, which, for example, includes “patented functionality that provides pseudo-random number generation that developers are required to use when they need a random number seed for their game. This feature ensures that players in head-to-head competition are playing under identical, yet random, conditions and is critical to the fairness of every game played on the Skillz Platform.”

Reportedly, in 2016, AviaGames was interested in Skillz, so it met with the plaintiff and signed up to become a customer. As a result, AviaGames started receiving additional tools, support and data beyond what would be offered for free in its developer portal. Skillz alleged that, through this, “AviaGames gained intimate knowledge of the Skillz Platform.”

Subsequently, AviaGames allegedly “created a copycat platform called Pocket7Games and used it to launch knockoff versions of some of the most popular games on the Skillz Platform.” The plaintiff proffered that AviaGames began marketing its Pocket7Games app “using marketing assets that Skillz provided after aviaGames asked for help promoting the only game it did create for the Skillz Platform.” Skillz noted that the game flopped and “appears to have been a mere decoy.” Skillz added that AviaGames then created standalone games, such as Bingo Clash, Solitaire Clash, 21 Gold, Explodocube, and Tile Blitz, which now competes with Skillz and other independent game developers. Consequently, Skillz averred that discovery is necessary to know the level of deliberation and intention for the alleged infringement.

In particular, AviaGames is accused of infringing U.S. Patent Nos. 9,479,602 and 9,649,564. For example, AviaGames allegedly infringed the ’602 patent through its standalone games, which have backend servers and systems with data processors that “upon a user’s selection of a tournament or cash game from the list of available peer-to-peer gaming events within the Pocket7Games application and standalone game applications … the at least one data processor in the Accused Products’ backend servers and systems receives data identifying the peer-to-peer gaming event and comprising a request to register for that event from the user’s device.” The request purportedly originates from the application “constituting peer-to-peer gaming platform software, which is stored in memory of a client iOS mobile device and executes on that device.” Reportedly, the client iOS device is remote from the accused products’ data processor, these components must communicate via the internet. Additionally, Skillz claimed that the cash tournaments are “geographically restricted peer-to-peer gaming competitions” because “(p)ay-to-play competitions where prizes are awarded are illegal in many states.” These are some exemplary ways in which AviaGames allegedly infringes the ’602 patent.

Skillz seeks declaratory judgment in its favor; for the defendant to be enjoined from further alleged infringement; an injunction; an award for damages, costs, and fees; pre- and post-judgment interest; and other relief.

Skillz Platform is represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP.