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Game developer sues IGT, alleges violation of licensing agreement

13 Mar 2015

By Howard Stutz
Game developer High 5 Games said slot machine giant IGT - International Game Technology violated numerous conditions of a licensing agreement and failed to pay the company royalties from gambling features used on 81 different game titles.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, New York-based High 5 Games said IGT used its licensed game features on some of the manufacturer’s more popular slot machines.

The lawsuit claims IGT breached its 2012 licensing agreement with High 5 Games and the developer is owed royalties attributed to such games as Sex and the City, Ghostbusters, ELVIS and Star Wars — The Empire Strikes Back.

"IGT has also failed to make certain payments owed under the now-terminated agreement, has failed to cease distribution of certain unauthorized, modified games, and has failed to abandon, cancel, or assign to (High 5 Games) certain trademark filings," the developer's attorneys wrote in the complaint.

The lawsuit was filed less than a month before the $6.4 billion merger between IGT and Italy-based lottery giant GTECH Holdings is finalized. Nevada gaming regulators approved the merger last month.

IGT spokesman Phil O'Shaughnessy declined comment, saying in an e-mail that "as a policy, IGT does not comment on pending litigation." A GTECH spokesman said he was unfamiliar with the lawsuit.

An outside spokesman for High 5 Games said the company would not comment on the lawsuit beyond what was in the complaint.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. The company also wants IGT to stop using the slot machines that utilize High 5 Games features. The lawsuit said IGT is also using the features on its social gaming sites, such as the company's DoubleDown Casino.

The companies first entered into the licensing agreement in 2003 and it was extended in 2008. High 5 Games said it produced many of IGT's highest-grossing slot machine titles including Cats, DaVinci Diamonds and Golden Goddess.

However, High 5 Games said the licensing agreement was ending in 2011 and the companies had a dispute over improper game distribution.

"Upon information and belief, to avoid the stringent penalties that IGT would have faced under the 2008 agreement for its material breach, after nearly a year of settlement discussions, IGT offered to enter into a new agreement, which came to fruition in 2012," High 5 Games stated in the complaint.

The dispute heated up last year. At the same time, IGT put itself up for sale and announced the GTECH acquisition last July. Last month, GTECH announced the merged company would be known as IGT.

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