Know When To Fold `Em

Submitted by patentadmin on Mon, 05/24/2010 - 06:30

Generally, our society holds perseverance to be a virtue. We look with disdain upon “quitters.” Nevertheless, there are times when it is best to accept your losses and simply walk away. It would seem, however, that some folks don’t recognize this. (Aristocrat Technologies et al. v. International Game Technology et al.)

Some time ago, Aristocrat made news – in a legal precedent way – when the court ruled that claims in their patent were invalid because they had failed to provide a sufficient description of the invention. Specifically, they had failed to provide an algorithm for a step performed by a computer.

Not deterred, Aristocrat sued I.G.T., only to have the court hold that the patent claims were effectively unenforceable because the various steps – we’re talking about method claims here – were performed by different parties and that liability for infringement could only exist where one party – the “mastermind” – controlled the actions of the other party – the “flunky” or “gofer.”

Well, the folks at Aristocrat are not quitters. They appealed the I.G.T. decision, arguing that: (1) I.G.T. “controls or directs the behavior of players by providing free credits to induce gambling at [I.G.T.’s] machines”; and (2) infringement occurs when I.G.T.’s employees test the machines. The court rejected both of these – in our view ludicrous – arguments, in part because – surprise – no prizes are awarded to employees engaged in the aforesaid testing.

It seems to us that arguing – IN COURT – about giving people free credits to induce them to gamble is roughly equivalent to boasting about giving out free samples of drugs to induce them to become addicts. What the heck were they thinking?

THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED: Ya gotta know when to hold `em, know when to fold `em.

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