‘Inventors’ Claim FarmVille And Other Zynga Games Infringe On Patent

Zynga has been slapped with patent lawsuit from a Segan LLC, which alleges that the social gaming giant has infringed on a patent titled “System for Viewing Content Over A Network and Method Thenrfor.” You can access the complaint here.

According to the document, the technology was developed and patented by Marc Segan and Gene Lewin in 2006 for a system and method for viewing content over the Internet wherein a user accesses a service provider server to view a character icon provided by the service provider to a user interface device.

From the actual patent, The user will select web site addresses of subscriber target sites where the user can access enhancement content for the character icon to provide functionality to the character icon such as for animating the character icon on the user device. Addresses for such web sites may be provided to the user based on a particular character icon selection which may, in and of itself, signify interests and/or demographic information of the user. Access to enhancement content will be provided by accessing authorization codes present at the target sites. In a preferred embodiment, only certain enhancement content will be operable on certain character icons, thus requiring the user to locate enhancement content that is compatible with the user’s character icon.

The patent itself is confusing but it appears that the technology focuses around associating a user to a character icon and how to manage updates to the character.

Segan alleges that Zynga infringed on this patent with the development and operation of its social games on Facebook like CityVille, FarmVille and others. Segan is seeking damages and royalty payments for the technology.

It’s unclear who Segan is, as the LLC doesn’t seem to have a web presence. The company isn’t a developer of social games, and could just be another organization that holds patents and makes money from going after companies that come close to or infringe on these patents.

This isn’t the first patent lawsuit for Zynga. The company was sued earlier this year by Walker Digital, the “invention company” founded by Priceline.com co-inventor Jay S. Walker, over a gaming technology. Zynga is also embroiled in a lawsuit with Vostu.