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September 20, 2014

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Slot maker sues competitor alleging patent infringement

Slot machine maker WMS Gaming Inc. on Saturday filed a lawsuit alleging patent infringement against competitor Bally Technologies Inc. of Las Vegas.

WMS, a unit of WMS Industries Inc. based in Waukegan, Ill., filed suit in U.S. District Court in Illinois claiming Bally games including Cash Spin, Dragon Dynasty, Twin Tigers and Sky Spirits infringe on WMS's "890'' patent issued in 2008 and its "220'' patent issued in 2009.

These cover reel spinning slot machines and gaming machines with "superimposed video images,'' the lawsuit says.

WMS uses the patents in the design of its "Transmissive Reels'' technology combining "the visceral appeal of mechanical-reel gaming with the visually engaging, interactive animation of video slots by projecting graphically-rich video content on a display screen (e.g., a LCD) over a mechanical-reel slot machine.''

"This creates a unique gaming experience unlike anything ever played before and provides virtually unlimited bonus game opportunities,'' WMS says in the lawsuit.

WMS complained that Bally offered a brochure at the 2009 Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas describing its "Transparent Reels" system as "combining the classic appeal of traditional mechanical reels with the visual impact of cutting-edge video effects."

"The brochure states: 'this unique interactive-reels technology superimposes dynamic video animations over standard mechanical reels. During regular play, the mechanical reels are clearly visible through the specially designed, translucent LCD display. But when a bonus sequence is triggered, or a winning combination occurs, the superimposed display comes alive with a dazzling variety of special effects for a truly unforgettable gaming experience,''' the WMS lawsuit said.

Bally hasn't yet responded to the suit.

Patent lawsuits are common in the slot machine industry, with Bally noting in recent regulatory filings it's been involved in at least three such lawsuits with industry leader International Game Technology since 2004.

Bally is also pursuing a lawsuit it filed in U.S. District Court for Nevada in March against Business Intelligence Systems Solutions Inc. of San Diego. That suit alleges Business Intelligence's "Bis2 Suite'' data processing and visualization product infringes on Bally patents. Products named in the suit and marketed to the gaming industry are "vizbybiz2" and "gameViz" data visualization software.

Bally suffered a setback in that litigation last month when U.S. District Judge Philip Pro in Las Vegas denied Bally's motion for a preliminary injunction that would have blocked Business Intelligence from infringing on two patents.

Pro noted that complete discovery in the case and further analysis of Bally's claims may provide a basis for him to revisit the issue, but at this early stage of the litigation Bally failed to demonstrate an injunction was warranted.

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