Decision allows IGT to appeal recent patent rulings in case with rival Bally

A federal judge has vacated the scheduled start of a patent infringement trial next week to allow slot maker International Game Technology to appeal his summary judgment ruling in favor of claims by rival manufacturer Bally Technologies.

The trial between IGT and Bally over Bally’s antitrust counterclaims against IGT had been set to begin Tuesday. A new start date was not announced.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones ruled that several IGT patents covering bonus wheel slot machines were invalid and not infringed upon by Bally.

But in a pretrial conference on Oct. 22, Jones indicated he would stay the proceedings and certify his summary judgment rulings for immediate appeal in the pending patent infringement case between IGT and Bally.

"The Court recognized it would be fundamentally unfair to make IGT defend the antitrust counterclaims following the Court's issuance of what it called 'just a tentative ruling... tentative because it's from me and not from the appellate court.' Therefore, the Court decided to stay the proceedings and vacate the trial date," Dave Johnson, IGT's executive vice president and general counsel, said in a news release issued Tuesday.

The IGT Wheel/Bally iView case involves patents covering bonus wheel gaming machines and certain features of player tracking systems. In the summary judgment rulings on Oct.16, certain of IGT's patents had been found invalid and/or not infringed. These rulings and an earlier order relating to interpretation of terms and phrases defining the inventions are the matters being certified for an immediate appeal by IGT.

"Judge Jones indicated that a review of his decisions by a specialized patent court in Washington, D.C., the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, 'will help resolve the dispute,' and that the parties 'need a final ruling so that [they] can conclude the trial and litigation.' The Federal Circuit will review these recent decisions and the earlier Markman ruling de novo or as if they were being presented for the first time," Johnson said. "IGT looks forward to this appeal and remains very confident in its case."