In Plain English: Epic and the Generic, Substance-Free Patent Troll

Epic Games is once again back in court, except this time they are taking on a more defensive tone.

As of July 18, Epic Games has filed a lawsuit against Acceleration Bay LLC regarding some bad blood between the two companies that has boiled over in the past few years. According to court dockets filed in the Northern District of California, Epic Games is asking for a declaratory judgment of non-infringement regarding seven patents owned by the defendant.

According to Epic’s filing, defendant Acceleration Bay LLC in early 2015 acquired a number of patents from The Boeing Company. These patents cover a computer network and/or broadcast channel with an m-regular, incomplete topology. I’ll let the docket try to explain some of it, but it has to do with how computers interact on a network.

  • The claims of these patents all require that (1) each participant/computer in the network must have connections to at least three other neighboring participants.
  • The claims of these patents all require that (2) the network must be “m-regular” where each participant is connected to the exact same number, m, of neighbor participants.
  • The claims of these patents all require that (3) the network must be incomplete – m must be at least two less than the total number of participants.
  • 31. In other words, each participant must be connected to at least three neighbor participants, and no participant can be connected to all of the other participants in the network.

Fast forward to 2018 and Acceleration Bay’s lawyers sent a letter to Epic with allegedly no explanation or information, and claimed that Epic was infringing on their patents and would require a license. The letter was apparently so poorly vetted by AB’s legal team that they didn’t notice that the threat still contained the name of an unrelated company that AB had presumably also threatened over its patents.

As they say, bad form.

Additionally, Epic asserted that Acceleration Bay couldn’t get through its letter without completely lying about its own existence, claiming that it was founded in 2012 (it was founded in August 2014), and calling itself a “technology incubator” (it isn’t) that “partners with inventors, corporations and entrepreneurs to accelerate growth in creating innovative companies.” AB doesn’t accelerate growth in anything. Acceleration Bay, according to Epic’s attorneys, does not provide any product or service whatsoever, and exists only to monetize patents acquired from third parties. According to Epic’s attorney’s, AB is exclusively in the market of monetizing patents.

On July 10, representatives of both companies sat down to a teleconference and evidently nothing was accomplished. AB’s attorneys don’t appear to understand what their own patent covers, or how Epic operates their games, as Epic states in the court dockets that many online multiplayer games, especially those being asserted in this lawsuit, do not function the way that the patent would cover, as player networks are communicating with Epic’s servers and not each other.

Epic has assembled its Avengers team of lawyers from the offices of Winston & Strawn to convince the court for a preemptive declaration that Epic is not infringing on any patents alleged in this case. Acceleration had not filed a lawsuit against Epic, however the threatening letters are enough for Epic to go to the court and demand an answer to force the letters to stop. Acceleration Bay has 21 days to respond to the lawsuit.

As always, MMO Fallout has acquired at our own cost the dockets for this case and they can be found on our Google Drive. The docket itself is linked here, as Acceleration.pdf, or it will be in a folder titled “Acceleration” once more dockets are uploaded.

I paid way too much for this article. If you really like patents, I recommend checking out the docket because it’s about 25 pages of the actual lawsuit and then 350+ of the patents at dispute presented at evidence. Our condolences go out to the court clerk who had to print this out and file it.

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