Skillz Wins $43M Judgment in AviaGames Patent Infringement Case

After a week-long trial, a California jury backed Skillz’s claim that Pocket7Games, a real-money skill gaming platform by rival operator AviaGames, infringes on its patent. Along with vindication, the jury awarded Skillz $42.89 million in compensation.

Avia, the lawsuit argued, stole Skillz’s tech after launching a game on its platform through a business-to-business partnership in 2016. According to court transcripts, while the game failed and the partnership fizzled, Avia managed to copy Skillz tech, modify, and relaunch it to “kill Skillz.”

Unfortunately for Avia, the jury agreed.

Andrew Dahlinghaus, Skillz’s general counsel, told Reuters the verdict is a “step in the right direction” for fairness in the industry.

Avia Still Faces Class-Action, Feds Over Bot Allegation

Initially set for early December, US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman delayed the patent case after New Jersey federal prosecutors subpoenaed AviaGames over separate allegations. In that case, Avia is accused of illegally using bots to manipulate its purported peer-to-peer platform.

Avia had sought Freeman’s approval for a longer delay. Instead, the judge postponed the patent case for two months to give Avia more time to prepare.

Ironically, the federal allegations came to light during pretrial discovery in the patent case.

During an August hearing, Skillz’s Attorney, Christopher Campbell, explained the issue to Judge Freeman.

Campbell said:

So, it all starts with how Avia represents itself to the outside world. They hold themselves out as a trusted platform [and] that they have no financial interest in the outcome of the cash games. But that’s all a lie, and we figured that out because we got, after the close-of-fact discovery, a slew of documents that show exactly what they are doing. They are using robots; they are cheating the public.

Avia also faces a class-action lawsuit on behalf of AviaGames’ customers that argues that Avia’s use of bots in its games amounts to racketeering and conspiracy.

Avia, the class-action explained, is a “leading provider” purportedly offering “games of skill against other real people for money.”

The use of bots, it argues, amounts to illegal gambling.

However, as it turns out, the entire premise of Avia’s platform is false: Instead of competing against real people, Avia’s computers populate and/or control the games with computer “bots” that can impact or control the outcome of the games. Instead of being games of skill as advertised, Avia’s games are manipulated games of chance that amount to an unapproved gambling enterprise.

About the Author

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil (she/they) is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor, and a lead writer at Bonus. Here she focuses on news relevant to online casinos, while specializing in responsible gambling coverage, legislative developments, gambling regulations, and industry-related legal fights.
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