Fox Sports Latest to be Hit with Patent Infringement Suit
Virtual Gaming Technologies LLC filed a complaint against Fox Sports in the Eastern District of Texas this past Monday, November 2, 2015, alleging patent infringements in regards to the technologies that make fantasy sports over the Internet a reality. The lawsuit is one more in a list of similar allegations filed by the technology company against other fantasy websites, including DraftKings and FanDuel.
The complaint alleges that Fox Sports is in violation of two issued patents for the use of and operation of its fantasy games and scoring updates. According to the complaint, William Junkin invented the patents in the late 1990s for his fantasy website FantaSports, and the inventions allow for real-time display of game data for fantasy purposes over the internet, making online and daily fantasy sites possible today. The patents were allegedly purchased by Rovi Technologies in 2009 and assigned to Virtual Gaming shortly thereafter.
The first patent, issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2009, is stated as enabling “real time interaction with contest systems over the Internet” and is “not directed at the broad concept or idea of fantasy sports.” The second patent, on the other hand, “enables participants to compete in a contest or game created around an individual event or series of events while it is aired on television,” and was issued in 2001. Further, the complaint argues that neither technology claimed in the patents were “conventional business practices” at the time of their issuance.
As fantasy sports were originally mostly played offline, Virtual Gaming believes that these patents, along with the work of their creator Junkin, have been paramount in increasing the popularity of online fantasy gaming, and Fox Sports uses the technology on its website without paying for a proper license to do so, creating millions of dollars in revenue every year.
Virtual Gaming is seeking the recovery of monetary damages or, at the very least, royalties for Fox Sports’ continued use of the patented technologies, which could potentially amount to well over a billion dollar lawsuit, as fantasy sports become ever more entrenched into American culture.