Joining a list of unrelated lawsuits, including a copyright infringement battle with social developer Vostu and a dispute with Walker Digital over online tech for online game tournaments, Segan LLC has filed a claim against Zynga [PDF], alleging the social media dev is in violation of a 2006-issued patent for a system dubbed: "System for Viewing Content over a Network and Method Therefor."
The patent reads, in part:
The user will select website addresses of subscriber target sites where the user can access enhancement content for the character icon to provide functionality to the character icon such as for animating the character icon on the user device.
In a nutshell, the generally-worded patent outlines a method for players to enhance their gaming avatars by visiting external websites. It's worth noting that Zynga's current practice of offering in-game items and currency to players who take part in participating offers on its partner websites is already the subject of a class-action lawsuit that claims this practice constitutes misleading advertising tactics.
Segan LLC's suit seeks unspecified damages and seeks either royalties from Zynga for the technology's use, or an order for Zynga to cease using the technology. Zynga is incredibly successful and Segan LLC doesn't appear to be leveraging the technology outlined in the patent in any meaningful way themselves. Also worth noting is that Segan is not a game-based company either.