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Nevada Judge Tosses|Bally Antitrust Claim

(CN) - A federal judge in Reno dismissed a six-year patent and antitrust dispute between electronic slot machine makers International Game Technology and Bally Technologies.

U.S. District Judge Robert Jones overturned his 2008 order allowing Bally's antitrust counterclaims against IGT to proceed.

IGT had sued its rival in 2004 for patent infringement, and Bally fought back by accusing IGT of trying to monopolize the gaming machine and "wheel game" markets.

Jones initially allowed the antitrust counterclaims, but changed his mind after further review.

"IGT provides a compelling argument that the court should reconsider its prior rulings on the ground that 'wheel games' do not constitute an antitrust relevant market," Jones wrote.

IGT argued that it made little sense to distinguish wheel slot machines from square or tower slot machines, as the only significant difference was shape.

"The shape of a machine is an improper classification for purposes of determining a relevant market because it does not relate to the characteristics, functions and uses of the machine," Jones explained. He said casinos pick gaming machines based on their ability to turn a profit, not by their shape -- evidence that the relevant market "is significantly broader."

He also rejected Bally's Lanham Act claims and its bid to have two of IGT's patents declared invalid.

Jones pointed out that he has already deemed one of the patents invalid, and it isn't necessary to void the second, because IGT has agreed not to sue.


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