The COVID-19 pandemic has forced courts to rethink many aspects of the patent litigation process. While a number of district judges have moved hearings and other procedures online, the nation’s top patent venues effectively suspended jury trials through most of the summer—until District Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the Eastern District of Texas resumed patent trials in August after local infection rates began to fall. However, as the pandemic moves further into its second wave, Judge Gilstrap has now taken the notable step of halting all jury trials before him after a coronavirus outbreak during a trial under another judge in the Eastern District. Judge Gilstrap stated that he was doing so “reluctantly” but asserted that he had no alternative—arguing that the face-to-face aspect of in-person trials is essential for due process.
Sony (2:19-cv-00248) has been added as a defendant in a gaming campaign headed toward a mid-August joint claim construction hearing in Texas. Terminal Reality Inc. and Infernal Technology, LLC, as patent owner and exclusive licensee, respectively, accuse Sony of infringing two patents—generally related to lighting and shadowing in computer graphics—through the provision of game engines “that are capable of performing deferred rendering, deferred shading, deferred lighting, physically based shading, and/or physically based rendering”, as well as through the provision of video games allegedly developed using those engines, including Everquest Next, Gran Turismo Sport, Horizon: Zero Dawn, the inFAMOUS series, and Knack.
Terminal Reality Inc. and Infernal Technology, LLC, as patent owner and exclusive licensee, respectively, have filed suit against Activision Blizzard (3:18-cv-01397), asserting two patents generally related to lighting and shadowing in computer graphics. The plaintiffs accuse Activision Blizzard of infringement through the use and provision of certain game engines “that are capable of performing deferred rendering, deferred shading, deferred lighting, physically based shading, and/or physically based rendering”, as well as through the provision of video games allegedly developed using those engines, including Blur, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Destiny, and Skylanders: SWAP Force, among others.
Infernal Technology, LLC, as exclusive licensee, and Terminal Reality Inc., as patent owner, have sued Microsoft (2:18-cv-00144) over the same two patents at issue in the case that the two Texas plaintiffs brought against Electronic Arts (EA) in September 2015. The asserted patents generally relate to lighting and shadowing in computer graphics, with the plaintiffs accusing Microsoft of infringement through the provision of Xbox consoles and Surface computers, along with a variety of games and game engines used to develop them. EA filed a motion to change venue (on which the district court never ruled), objections to an order construing disputed claim terms (which the district court overruled), and multiple petitions for inter partes review (IPR) (which resulted in final written decisions that did not cancel any of the challenged claims), all before the case against it was dismissed with prejudice, in light of apparent settlement, in January 2018.