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Zynga Moving To Patent Virtual Currency?

by Matt Bertz on Oct 26, 2010 at 07:48 AM

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On the same day that Bloomberg reported that Zynga's estimated worth has trumped Electronic Arts' stock market value, web diggers have unearthed a patent filed by Zynga back in March that if granted would give the company nefarious domain over virtual currency.

Virtual currency has existed in online games for as long as I can remember, as evidenced by the Chinese gold farms that raise in game capital and sell it for real-world currency to gamers too lazy to stimulate their virtual wallets themselves. But to our knowledge this is the first patent filed that tries to exercise company control over the concept. The patent also stipulates that the currency must be used within the game and cannot be sold on a secondary market. This is basically the plan Zynga has used to cash in big-time with FarmVille and Mafia Wars.

The patent, which reflect's FarmVille's current terms of service agreement, has yet to be granted, but if Zynga wins they may use it as a tool for suing companies looking to cash in on its games. This past April Zynga sued Playerauctions.com for creating a forum where players could buy and sell virtual goods and currency for Zynga games. VentureBeat also points out this could be used as a negotiating tactic against Facebook, which reportedly takes a 30 percent cut of all transactions that use Facebook Credits.

You can check out the patent yourself here.