‘Deadpool’ Technology Lands in Patent Fight


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The patent wars have come to the cinemaplex.

If you marveled at the facial animations of the current hit movie “Deadpool” or last year’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” you probably didn’t realize you were watching technology called Mova.

Mova captures every facial tick and motion of a human actor and places it on an animated figure. And it won an Academy Award last year.

Now the technology we can assume helped the Hulk have a berserk twinkle in his eye as he smashed his way through the Avengers film is the center of a nasty fight between a San Francisco company called Rearden and a Chinese company called the Shenzhenshi Haitiecheng Science and Technology Company. Shenzhenshi, which is affiliated with the Hollywood visual effects company Digital Domain, sued Rearden last February.

The tangle over animation technology comes at a relatively quiet period in the tech industry’s patent battles.

Over the years, big tech companies have collected stock piles of patents and copyrights, both to protect their assets and sue other companies. Oracle sued Google. Apple sued Samsung. So-called patent trolls — companies that own patents, but don’t actually build products based on them — have sued scores of little and big companies.

Industry complaints that lawsuits were sucking innovation out of tech — and scaring people away from creating start-ups — led to calls in Washington for patent reform. But so far those efforts have gone nowhere.

Rearden has asked a judge to award it financial damages and block the distribution of movies and other entertainment that it claims have been made using infringing Mova patents and trademarks.

Lawyers say the suit could be a longshot. As for “Deadpool,” its box-office receipts are hovering somewhere around $500 million.



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