The Federal Circuit has revived a pair of gaming animation patents (6,307,576; 6,611,278) previously invalidated under Alice. In a precedential opinion and order issued on September 13 in McRo v. Bandai Namco Games America, the court reversed a September 2014 grant of judgment on the pleadings by District Judge George Wu (2:12-cv-10322), ruling that the two asserted patents—which generally relate to automating a 3D character’s mouth movements in response to a voice script—are not directed to an abstract idea. In so holding, the Federal Circuit overturned Judge Wu’s conclusion that the patents precluded the entire field of rule-based lip synchronization, finding that the lower court had oversimplified the challenged claims. Rather, the court found that the claims were saved by the specific, detailed, and “unconventional” nature of the rules at issue, because those rules constituted a meaningful improvement of the underlying technology.
McRo sued 14 gaming companies including Capcom, Insomniac, Konami, Namco Banda, Naughty Dog, Neversoft, Obsidian, Sega, Shiny, Sonic Team, Square Enix, THQ, Treyarch, and Visceral, alleging that the defendants’ video games infringe two patents related to synchronizing the movements of an animated character with an audio sequence. McRo filed 11 prior suits on November 21, 2012 against another set of gaming defendants. RPX reviewed the patents-in-suit as an open market opportunity (Rosenfeld-Acq) in May 2011. The patents were assigned to McRO by the inventor in November 2012. 12/4, Central District of California, assigned Judge Percy Anderson and referred to Magistrate Judge Frederick F. Mumm, 2:2012cv10322; assigned to Judge Dean D. Pregerson and referred to Magistrate Judge Stephen J. Hillman, 2:2012cv10323; assigned to Judge George H. Wu and referred to Magistrate Judge Alicia G. Rosenberg, 2:2012cv10326; assigned to Judge Otis D. Wright II and referred to Magistrate Judge Fernando M. Olguin, 2:2012cv10327; assigned to Judge Audrey B. Collins and referred to Magistrate Judge Stephen J. Hillman, 2:2012cv10331; assigned to Judge Christina A. Snyder and referred to Magistrate Judge Victor B. Kenton, 2:2012cv10335; assigned to Judge Dale S. Fischer and referred to Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Wistrich, 2:2012cv10336; assigned to Judge Manuel L. Real and referred to Magistrate Judge Alicia G. Rosenberg, 2:2012cv10337; assigned to Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald and referred to Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick, 2:2012cv10338; assigned to Judge John A. Kronstadt and referred to Magistrate Judge Carla Woehrle, 2:2012cv10340; assigned to Judge Philip S. Gutierrez and referred to Magistrate Judge Jay C. Gandhi, 2:2012cv10341; assigned to Judge R. Gary Klausner and referred to Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian, 2:2012cv10342; assigned to Judge Margaret M. Morrow and referred to Magistrate Judge Michael R. Wilner, 2:2012cv10344; assigned to Judge Stephen V. Wilson and referred to Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Wistrich, 2:2012cv10345.
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