On Monday, World IP Review reported that a U.S. based business called FigureFun filed suit against Lego Systems in the Eastern District of Texas on March 8. The suit focuses on Lego's alleged infringement of two patents, Patent. No. 7,001,276 for "Gaming machine and server therefor" and Patent No. 7,338,377 for "Token with built-in IC chip." An IC chip is an integrated circuit chip, which is set of electronic circuits on a single chip. The advantages of integrated circuits are two-fold: they are both cheaper and perform better than a traditional electronic circuit. FigureFun alleges Lego is infringing upon its '276 patent by the development of Lego Dimensions, a video game for PlayStation, XBOX, and Nintendo Wii. FigureFun alleges Lego is infringing upon its '377 patent because characters in Lego Dimensions include "a token for a gaming machine on which a player plays a game by controlling the character."
As someone who has not interacted much with the Lego brand since my childhood, I was surprised to learn that Lego has expanded into developing video games. I expected FigureFun to be a big competitor in the industry, but a Google search led only to the name registration of FigureFun LLC, registered in April, 2016 with its principal administrative address in the Dallas area and an industry listed as "sports: activities." It appears that FigureFun is a non-practicing entity who has acquired the '377 and '276 patents and is looking to assert them in return for the damages, royalties, interest, costs, expenses, and attorney's fees it is seeking. In recent years, this practice has become more common, as some companies will acquire patents and then license the technology, rather than use it themselves. This practice has also made the choice Lego is now facing more commonplace - it can either spend a potentially significant amount of money fighting the lawsuit or agree to settle.