Online Game Maker Zynga Sued Over Alleged Patent Infringement

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) – Zynga Inc., the maker of popular online games such as “FarmVille” and “CityVille,” is being sued for patent infringement by a Texas gaming startup.

Agincourt claims San Francisco-based Zynga is violating two of its patents related to systems for redeeming prizes in games. The patents were awarded in 2001 and 2004.

Zynga’s “remarkable growth has not been driven by its own ingenuity or innovations,” Agincourt said. “Rather, it has been widely reported that Zynga’s business model is to copy creative ideas and game designs … and use its market power to bulldoze the games’ originators.”

Zynga has plans to offer an initial public offering of stock. About 230 million people every month play addictive Zynga games such as “Farmville,” “CityVille” and “Texas HoldEm Poker,” much of the time through apps on Facebook. The games are free to play, but Zynga charges small amounts of money to buy virtual items that can help players advance in its games more quickly.

Little is known about Agincourt. The company, based in Plano, Texas, describes itself as a “start-up aggregator and renovator of underappreciated games.” Its website links to an online game called Pantheon.

Agincourt filed the lawsuit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del. Agincourt seeks unspecified damages, attorneys’ fees and a declaration that Zynga infringes its patents.

Zynga declined to comment.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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