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Zynga targeted in patent infringement lawsuit

Little-known Agincourt Gaming accuses Zynga of violating its patents and asks a court to force the shutdown of the allegedly infringing games.

Agincourt Gaming, a new entrant into the social-gaming sector, filed a lawsuit today accusing Zynga of violating two of its patents.


The company, whose Web site touts a Facebook game called Pantheon, seeks unspecified monetary damages and a permanent injunction against Zynga, one of the Web's social-network game developers. Zynga representatives were not immediately available for comment.

Agincourt, which focuses on the social-gaming space, said it "owns foundational patents that claim priority back to 1996 and cover the processes for credits-based online gaming and a prize redemption system based on the outcome of game play."

According to a copy of Agincourt's complaint, the company claims that FarmVille, Mafia Wars, FishVille, and Zynga Poker, among other games, violate its patents.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

In the complaint, Agincourt notes that Zynga has seen rapid growth and that the company's games on Facebook had over 270 million monthly active users as of June.

"But Zynga's remarkable growth has not been driven by its own ingenuity," Agincourt said in the complaint. "Rather it has been widely reported that Zynga's business model is to copy creative ideas and game designs from other game developers and then use its market power to bulldoze the games' originators. Consistent with this reported copycat business strategy, Zynga has also violated Agincourt Gaming's intellectual property rights."

A recent filing by Zynga with the Securities and Exchange Commission put the company's internal valuation at $11 billion.

The recent rise in patent litigation has stirred controversy with many renewing calls for a revamping of patent laws. Zynga, however, has also filed suit to protect its intellectual property. In June, the company filed a complaint against Brazilian social-game developer Vostu for alleged copyright infringement, accusing it of copying Zynga's most popular games.

Related stories:
• New SEC filing puts Zynga valuation at $11 billion in March
• Zynga brings Words With Friends to Facebook
• Facebook unveils revamp to games platform
• Google begins rollout of games on Google+