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IGT’s Intellectual Property Suit Comes Up Snake Eyes

International Game Technology’s lawsuit in Las Vegas federal court didn’t pay off as the gaming giant had hoped.

IGT sued rival casino game maker Bally in 2004 for allegedly infringing on a half-dozen patents for a slot machine. Virtually all of those claims were dismissed in 2008; a ruling that was upheld a year later by a U.S. Court of Appeals. reports that after the summary judgment rulings in favor of Bally were issued, the company asked the judge to proceed to trial on the remaining antitrust, patent and Lanham Act claims IGT was pressing.

In February, the judge said he wanted to reconsider his rejection of summary judgment on the remaining intellectual property issues before him. He asked Bally and IGT to submit supplementary briefs on the matters and refresh their motions on summary judgment.

Clearly, the judge wasn’t kidding about that review of the summary judgments: he granted IGT summary judgment on the antitrust and Lanham Act counterclaims made by Bally, for which Bally had sought “significant damages,” according to a Reuters report quoted.

So IGT was able to take solace in the fact that counterclaims against it were dismissed. IGT had argued that there is no wheel game market that would be relevant in the context of an antitrust suit.

In his decision, the judge agreed, writing: “It is undisputed that casinos mix and match products to maximize floor-space revenue considerations. By limiting the relevant market to ‘wheel games,’ the court would not be including all reasonably interchangeable products in the market.”

As a kicker, however, the judge also dismissed IGT’s final patent claim against Bally.

Source: “In Casino Games IP War, O’Melveny Pulls Out Antitrust Win”: December 2, 2010

John P. Aldrich
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