Zynga has been sued by Agincourt Gaming for allegedly infringing patents related to virtual prizes. The patents cover processes for credit-based online gaming and a prize redemption system based on the outcome of game play, according to Dallas-based Agincourt’s complaint, elements that are essential to the popularity of  Zynga games like FarmVille, CityVille and Mafia Wars.

Agincourt Gaming’s patents date back to 1996, and its website touts a Facebook game called Pantheon that went live in early 2011. It is represented in the action against Zynga by patent litigation specialist law firm Susman Godfrey LLP, which filed the suit in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, seeking  unspecified damages and an injunction against Zynga requiring that several of its games be shut down.

“Agincourt’s patents cover the most lucrative aspects of online social gaming – including those comprising the bulk of Zynga’s revenues – as they contain the crucial ‘link’ that allows for global, interactive prize redemption over the Internet,” Bill Carmody, a senior partner at Susman Godfrey, said in the statement.

Interestingly, the URL for Agincourt Gaming is registered to patent acquisition and management firm PanOptis IP, and both companies list the same physical address.  PanOptis IP describes its primary ability as being “able to realistically ascertain the enforceability of a portfolio and determine the optimal litigation strategy for maximizing it’s [sic] value.”

These similarities in street address and URL registrations have zero bearing on the merits of the lawsuit, of course.

The case is Agincourt Gaming LLC v. Zynga Inc., 11-00720, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

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