Company Wants All EA Profits From Nine Sports Games Due To Alleged Patent Infringement

by Mike Futter on Jan 22, 2015 at 08:43 AM

EA will be heading to court to defend itself against a patent-infringement lawsuit tied to its sports titles. The suit was filed on January 15 by White Knuckle LLC, which holds a patent for updating video games based on real-world changes.

The patent specifies mechanisms by which developers can update sports statistics, roster changes, and stadium updates that might occur during the year. The patent was initially filed in 2002 and refiled in 2009 with Athanasios Angelopoulos as the listed inventor. The patent was awarded on September 10, 2013.

The complaint requests a number of remedies, including injunctive relief that would prevent further infringement, damages and interest, and all of the profits related to a number of games (NCAA Football 10, NCAA Football 12, NCAA Football 13, NCAA Football 14, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14), and attorney fees. You can read the entire filing via the link below.

We reached out to White Knuckle LLC via a listed number that is also associated with a number of unrelated businesses. We discovered that this was a home number owned by attorney Andrew Hansen, whom we were able to speak with. Hansen is an attorney at intellectual property firm Workman Nydegger in Utah, which is involved in the case. He is also associated with White Knuckle more closely. "I'm affiliated with the company," he says. "It's pretty informal. My role is 'company counsel.'"

According to Hansen, White Knuckle Gaming is the parent company of White Knuckle IP, which holds the patent. "The focus of White Knuckle IP is to license to EA Sports," Hansen tells us. "EA Sports knows about us. We've sent them certified mail letters. They just ignore us."

Hansen couldn't tell us if White Knuckle had reached out to other companies to license the patent, as these matters might come up in litigation. He also clarified that the request to be awarded EA's profits on these nine games is "boilerplate" (standardized text). "I copied and pasted a complaint from another case," he says. "It's just a lawsuit for patent infringement."

Hansen describes himself as an entrepreneur. The unrelated businesses at his address (Roman Cement LLC, HB Biotech LLC, Voodoo Gaming LLC, Pear LLC, and Xenocor LLC) are tied to his interest in other fields, including medical devices. Hansen says that Voodoo Gaming LLC holds other patents and is not involved in this case.

Voodoo's patents include a mechanism for managing fantasy football drafts, importing geographically specific advertising into games, and communication between fantasy sports leagues and sports video games. Patents unrelated to gaming include details for searching private social network data and filings related to cement.  

We were unable to discern any products or services that White Knuckle has produced. The company has no website, nor does it have contact information beyond Hansen’s home. 

When reached, EA declined to comment. 

[Source: USPTO via Joystiq]


Our Take
Even after speaking with Hansen, I didn't get a good sense for what White Knuckle's business is. In his own words, he told me that the company's focus is to license the patent to EA. Perhaps more will come out in court about its attempts to work with other publishers.