You hear a lot of gambling metaphors in litigation. But lately we've noticed an uptick in IP cases involving actual gaming companies. Last week, for instance, Las Vegas federal district court judge Edward Reed, Jr., granted summary judgment to International Game Technology, ruling that Bally's patent on a slot machine gaming wheel product was invalid. Bally, represented by Charles Verhoeven of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver and Hedges, had claimed that IGT's slot machines, including its popular "Wheel of Fortune" game, infringed a Bally patent, but Judge Reed ruled that the claims were invalid because of obviousness and prior art. IGT was represented by Marc Cohen of Kirkland & Ellis.
The case is part of a larger battle between the two companies. IGT has at least two patent infringement cases pending against Bally, which may help explain why after Judge Reed's ruling, both sides appeared to engage in some gamesmanship in declaring victory. Bally CEO Richard Haddrill said in a statement that the decision "strengthens our position in the other litigation brought by IGT." Yet IGT's CEO, T.J. Matthews, said he was "pleased that our position has been vindicated." Some observers suspect that despite winning, IGT may look to settle the case in order to save its patents from a similar fate in the other cases. Like Kenny Rogers said, you got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.
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