Bodog goes patent troll hunting

Calvin Ayre

Bodog Entertainment announced this week it has filed a petition for reexamination of 1st Technology's patent, which is the center of the dispute between the two companies.

1st Technology claims the downloaded software used by Bodog customers for gaming violates patents held by the company. It took its case to court, and a company affiliated with Bodog was served with the paperwork at the time.

When Bodog didn't respond in court, 1st Tech was awarded a summary judgement of $45 million as well as the domain name.

Bodog is now fighting the summary judgment and claims the company served with the original paperwork in the lawsuit is not a part of the Bodog corporation.

Filing for a reexamination of the patent will not affect the summary judgment in the lawsuit between the two parties, but Bodog said in a press release it hopes the move will prevent 1st Tech and its founder from attacking other online gambling sites.

"1st Technology and its founder, Scott Lewis, have preyed on our industry and others long enough," said Bodog founder Calvin Ayre.

"They count on organizations being forced to make the assessment of whether fighting a patent claim will cost more than to simply settle it. They say their patents are valid. They say their claims are legitimate. Well, it's time to prove it."

Bodog Entertainment explains that a patent reexamination is a process in which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is advised of the existence of "prior art" that raises a "substantial new question of patentability."

"Prior art" means public information that may impact an assessment of whether the patented invention is valid. A patent can only be properly granted when an invention is genuinely novel and unobvious, so if prior art exists, then a patent granted with respect to that invention is not valid.

Even though a reversal of the patent won't help Bodog's case, it could prevent cases against other online gambling sites.

According to Bodog, court records suggest that Lewis and his related licensing companies currently have litigation pending against Playtech, Parlay Entertainment, Tiltware, Electronic Arts, Viacom, Microsoft, Betcorp, Giga Media, Harmonic Systems, Leisure and Gaming and several other gaming-related companies.

Ayre said his company plans to review every patent being used by "licensors" that abuse the patent system in the guise of representing legitimate investors.

"Through no fault of its own, the USPTO is under-funded and overwhelmed and we have the resources to support the research into whether these patents should have been issued in the first place," Ayre said.

"We intend to fund and seek reexamination after reexamination of invalid patents, and we encourage others that have received demand letters offering to 'license' these technologies under threat of litigation to join us. Acting independently, the 'settlement math' almost always favors the aggressor, but together we can turn the hunters into the hunted."

In the meantime, Bodog Entertainment continues to reiterate its stance that the business served with a lawsuit in the patent case was not a Bodog entity, merely a business partner providing services for Bodog at the time.

"Through what was essentially inadvertence, Bodog did not transfer the registrations out of this supplier when the supplier ceased doing business. That was Bodog's oversight and it cost the business those domains," Ayre said.

"However, the harassment continues, as 1st Technology intentionally uses the subpoena process to hound and attempt to intimidate suppliers and business partners."

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