A ruling in the ongoing patent litigation between Bally Technologies and International Game Technology could come in the next couple months, according to a gaming analyst who attended a summary judgment hearing in the case.
The court heard arguments by outside counsel regarding the “wheel” and player tracking disputes on both patent infringement and validity of each, according to Bill Lerner, a Deutsche Bank gaming analyst who attended the June 30 hearing.
The hearing is expected o conclude in early August when the court will hear antitrust arguments. At the hearing’s onset Monday, the judge noted he would like to resolve as much of the dispute as possible in summary judgment, given what could be a lengthy and duplicative trial process. “We would expect a ruling prior to the currently scheduled trial date in October. While some issues could be decided in summary judgment, we note that the decisions are likely subject to appeal. Further, the judge also urged mediation as an alternative to trial,” Lerner said in a note to investors.
At the hearing, discussions focused on whether Bally infringed on IGT patents (No. 646, 573 and 891,) and whether IGT’s patents are valid.
Among the questions debated on the infringement issue were whether the whole wheel needs to be visible; whether a rotating ball is the same as a rotating wheel, and whether sequential blinking lights constitute wheel motion or is it still a fixed pointer? On patent validity, the question is whether any of the known examples of games with wheels constitute prior art.Arguments also were made on whether or not IGT engaged in inequitable conduct (by not disclosing any knowledge of prior art). Like the wheel above, arguments were heard on patent infringement and validity of IGT player tracking technologies.