Skillz v. AviaGames Lawsuit Begins Today in US Federal Court

Posted on: February 2, 2024, 12:45h. 

Last updated on: February 3, 2024, 11:28h.

Skillz’s federal lawsuit initiated in April 2021 against rival competitor AviaGames begins its trial today in Northern California’s US District Court.

Skillz AviaGames lawsuit skill gaming
A Skillz booth at a mobile app conference. Skillz is suing rival AviaGames on copyright infringement and the alleged use of bots in its games. (Image: Bloomberg)

Skillz alleges copyright infringement on claims that AviaGames stole its technology and copied its games. The lawsuit additionally contends that Avia uses bots to compete against real human players.

Attorneys representing Skillz say AviaGames rigs its games to deceive and rip off its consumers. The litigation claims Avia has defrauded players to the tune of more than $1 billion.

Skillz claims Avia cloned several of its mobile games, including Solitaire Cube, Blackout Bingo, and 21 Blitz. Avia’s Pocket7Games mobile suite of apps includes such titles as Solitaire Clash, Bingo Clash, and 21 Gold.

Skillz players have voiced frustration at times in finding a person to compete against for real money. That hasn’t been the case with AviaGames’ app where players have reported expedited times in connecting with another real money player.

Skillz, however, contends that Avia’s pairing times are quicker because the company is using computer bots to compete against players. The bots violate the company’s service terms and are much more proficient in gameplay than most human players.   

Avia Denies Claims

Skillz Mobile and AviaGames are both skill gaming mobile app developers. Players can compete head-to-head against another player for real money. The firms claim to match players based on their competencies, but Skillz says Avia is pairing players of all aptitude levels against the company’s highly skilled bots.

AviaGames has denied wrongdoing and says Skillz is simply a frustrated competitor losing market share.

The claims against AviaGames are baseless,” a company statement read. “The company is focusing its attention on supporting our diverse, growing, and very satisfied gamer community and addressing these false assertions.” Avia’s attorneys said they’re “confident we will prevail.”

U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman in November agreed to delay the trial until this month on Avia’s petition that it needed more time to ready its defense.

In September, Freeman ordered confidential communications between AviaGames executives and their legal counsel to be turned over to Skillz. The judge said the court determined that there was sufficient evidence to suggest Avia did use bots in its mobile app operations.

Skillz founder and CEO Andrew Paradise testifies today during the opening statements. AviaGames CEO Vickie Chen is expected to take the stand on Monday for cross-examination.

The use of bots is common in video games, but skill gaming developers run afoul of federal law when they’re used in real money peer-to-peer skill-based contests. Several states prohibit real money skill gaming regardless of the absence of bots, including Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Vermont.

Class-Action Lawsuit

In addition to Skillz’s lawsuit against AviaGames regarding intellectual property infringement and bot use allegations, Avia is facing a proposed class-action lawsuit from players who believe they were financially wronged.

Instead of being games of skill as advertised, Avia’s games are manipulated games of chance that amount to an unapproved gambling enterprise. This action seeks to hold Defendants responsible for their deceptive practices, and separately, their racketeering gambling enterprise,” the litigation alleges.

“Recently uncovered evidence indicates that Avia has perpetuated a lie on its customers and that players are actually playing against computer bots in a stacked game of chance,” the lawsuit added.

The class-action lawsuit is scheduled to begin next month.