Company acted appropriately with intellectual property, MP21 system, District Court rules

A Nevada District Court recently granted summary judgment motions in favor of Las Vegas-based Bally Technologies in its patent suit against Reno-based International Game Technology and Las Vegas-based Shuffle Master. Bally had been accused of infringing on two IGT/Shuffle Master-owned patents with regard to development of Bally’s MP21 table game system.

The court ruled that one of the patents - the “Schubert” patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,313,871) - was invalid under the “obviousness” doctrine recently addressed by the Supreme Court in KSR International Co. v. Teleflex Inc. Bally would be entitled to partial summary judgment of non-infringement, the court said. Bally’s MP21 system does not infringe on the other patent, known as the “Fishbine” patent (U.S. Patent No. 5,781,647).

A press release issued by Bally after the decision noted that the court also questioned the validity of the Fishbine patent, but declined to issue any specific ruling on that matter. Bally was granted a motion for summary judgment dismissing IGT and Shuffle Master’s claim that an inventor of the Schubert patent should have been named as an inventor of several Bally patents.

“This is a vindication of Bally’s position in this case,” said Richard M. Haddrill, president and chief executive officer of Bally Technologies. “The District Court’s ruling supports our view that our product decisions are based on sound intellectual property filings and evaluations and made with care.”

Bally’s General Counsel and Senior Vice President Mark Lerner added, “The court’s emphasis of the ‘obviousness’ principles enunciated by the U.S. Supreme Court in the recent KSR decision is especially encouraging because it is our view that many of the patents asserted by IGT outside this litigation have similar characteristics of obviousness.”

The asserted claims of two patents brought by Bally as counterclaims against IGT and Shuffle Master were also invalidated on obviousness grounds similar to those applied to the IGT and Shuffle Master patents.

Bally, in its release, also updated the status of two other legal battles with IGT: in litigation over the IGT Wheel/Bally iVIEW (D. Nev., No. CV-S-04-1676-RCJ), the District Court recently pushed back the trial date from May to December 2008 to allow time for compliance with the court’s orders granting Bally’s motions that IGT produce additional revenue and other information and documents in response to Bally’s discovery requests. Meanwhile, in a suit over Bally’s bonusing products (D. Del., No. 06-282), the United States Patent and Trademark Office recently rejected all claims of another of the IGT patents asserted by IGT in that case.

“Of the nine patents and approximately 200 claims originally asserted by IGT in the case, five patents have been dismissed, leaving four patents (including the one mentioned above) and 10 claims remaining in the case.” The release noted.