For those reading or who have a static link to our index page, we have updated the video game lawsuit index, and it is much more comprehensive and user friendly now. Be sure to check it out by clicking on the “Lawsuits” link from our home page!
Updated: May 29, 2011
To assist you in your research and review of the cases, this post will serve as a continuously updated index of the cases we’re tracking. It provides a chronological listing of video game & related lawsuits broken down into the categories of patent, trademark and copyright with a few miscellaneous cases at the end. As far as we’re aware, this is the most comprehensive and complete listing of video game cases and lawsuits. If you notice any that are missing, please let us know.
Don’t worry, we’ll get to them all… eventually.
Well everyone, after four years and hundreds of posts on case updates, legal commentary, gaming news, virtual world IP, and video game patents, The Patent Arcade is proud to relaunch with our new, updated look, and a more user-friendly interface. If you’re an RSS reader, please stop by www.PatentArcade.com and take a look at the new site and features. You’ll also see new contributors to the site, so keep an eye out for differing perspectives when updates come out.
Thanks everyone for your support over the years. We look forward to continuing on well into the future!
So I just ran in to Tom Bergeron in the lobby of my office building, and it got me thinking: how many game shows have patent protection? Game shows are games, which provide function (i.e., usefulness). Games have methods of game play. Ergo, game shows should be patentable, provided they meet the statutory requirements of novelty and nonobviousness (yes, there is also recent law–the Bilski case–that brings into question whether a game show is statutory subject matter, but a decent patent attorney (like me!) can draft claims that meet the Bilski requirements). So I ran a quick search of the patent office records and there are only 22 patents that use the word “game show” in either the title or the abstract of the patent, and they are (in reverse chronological order):
- 7,462,104:Method of conducting an interactive competition
- 7,440,919:System and method for a financial planning competition
- 7,244,180:Geography game show
- 7,201,653:Book of wishes game
- 7,171,487:Method and system for application specific packet forwarding
- 6,935,945:Internet game show in which visual clue is progressively exposed to contestants
- 6,845,980:Bingo-style word game
- 6,800,031:Method of conducting an interactive competition
- 6,616,143:System and method of conducting a lottery based game show
- 6,612,578:Bingo-style word game
- 6,439,997:Television/internet game show
- 6,340,159:”Double Cross.TM.” game show
- 6,193,610:Interactive television system and methodology
- 5,860,653:Method and apparatus for playing a word game
- 5,545,088:Television game interactively played by telephone with television-viewing home audience
- 5,518,253:Televised bingo game system
- 5,297,802:Televised bingo game system
- 5,213,337:System for communication using a broadcast audio signal
- 5,108,115:Interactive game show and method for achieving interactive communication therewith
- 5,088,739:Game having an environmental theme
- 5,035,422:Interactive game show and method for achieving interactive communication therewith
- 4,781,377:Hybrid sporting event and game show
I’ll add this to my list of things to do, i.e., review the patents in more detail to see which actually describe game play methods, versus which are directed to peripheral technical features, e.g., electronic game boards, etc.
We will be attending the Triangle Game Conference in Raleigh, NC, on April 29-30. Please let us know if you will be there and would like to meet. Steve Change from my firm will be speaking at 4pm on April 29 on the panel for “The Law of Gaming: Legal Protections, Perils, Pitfalls for Game Developers.” I (Ross Dannenberg) will be around as well.
…while I play with layout changes… and NO, there will NOT be advertisements on the blog!
I will be speaking at GDC 2009 in San Francisco, California. The event is at the Moscone Center, and my session is scheduled for Friday at NOON! Yes, I drew the Friday lunch slot, so I promise to keep it entertaining and lively, and there will be some very useful handout materials.
Session: Video Game Patents – Cases & Examples: Adventures in Video Game Litigation
Date/Time: Friday (March 27, 2009) 12:00pm — 1:00pm
Location (room): Room 2002, West Hall
Track: Business and Management
Format: 60-minute Lecture
Experience Level: All
The successes and failures by companies to properly protect their innovations and software has led to some interesting results in the courts. Copyright protection, while important, is not always enough for protecting computer software and video games.
This presentation will explore patent lawsuits (both historical and more recent) that yield important lessons for companies desirous of using patents to protect their video game intellectual property, and to ensure that the company continues to obtain strong and enforceable software patents.
Regardless of the size of your company, you can always improve the IP protection of your assets, from game artwork, to game play methods, to hardware, and including the software itself. Learn from other companies’ pitfalls and mistakes, and see what makes a patent stand up in court, versus why patent lawsuits are lost in the video game industry.
Hope to see you there!
Well I finally got around to upgrading the blog to Google’s new beta service, so we’ve updated the look and feel a little bit, while keeping the overall simple header theme. New features include the ability to filter posts by labels, better subscription options, and better integration of useful add-ons such as patent searching.
I apologize to anyone who was following the old atom feed, because I think its broken now. We will be updating other broken links as soon as possible, but you will need to resubscribe using the new subscription options.
Thanks for reading!
I don’t normally post non-legal content, but this one is a good resource for budding video game designers: 70+ Open Courseware Links for Game Designers and Developers. Most of the resources appear to be links to MITs open course program, or other universities with similar offerings, but this is the first compilation of all such resources that I have seen in one place. Topics include Game Development, Arts & Media Studies, Theory & Thinking, Analysis, Storytelling, Interaction & Decisionmaking, Probability, Design, Programming & Tools, Practical Skills, Game Genres & Uses, and Issues. If anyone is looking to brush up on skills, this looks like a great place to start. When you build your game and need legal advice, give me a call. Good luck!
I just wanted to take a minute and let everyone know that I will be speaking at GDC 2009 (March 25-27, 2009) this year. I’m not sure which day my presentation will be, but I will be presenting patent lawsuit case studies that are relevant to the video game industry. Let me know if you’ll be in SF for GDC in March. I’d love to meet more of the people who have responded to my posts. See you there!
I recently wrote a series of short articles for LinuxInsider regarding IP issues as they arise in virtual worlds and video games. Each article was necessarily short, so there wasn’t room to go into a lot of detail, but it provides some basic IP information regarding patents, copyrights, and trademarks for those that are interested:
The Rocky Legal Landscape of Virtual Worlds, Part 1: Trademarks (Nov. 12, 2008)
The Rocky Legal Landscape of Virtual Worlds, Part 2: Patents (Nov. 19, 2008)
The Rocky Legal Landscape of Virtual Worlds, Part 3: Copyrights (Nov. 26, 2008)
Villian… I suspect.
Its not every day that we see a video game embrace an attorney as a central character. Normally the attorneys are the ridicule of the game, but one game did just that: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Hollywood, on the other hand, embraces the legal profession almost all too often, whether for ridicule, storytelling, murder, suspense, education, or just plain fun. What Hollywood doesn’t do too often is highlight the role that patents play in our society, so it is with some interest that I am awaiting a new film starring Greg Kinnear, Flash of Genius, that tells the story of Robert Kearns’ (Kinnear) fight against the auto industry after Mr. Kearns invented the intermittent windshield wiper. I’ve spoken with people involved on behalf of the auto industry, and suffice it to say that their side of the story comes across as markedly different than I suspect Mr. Kearns’ side of it is portrayed in the movie. Nonetheless, it’s nice to see Hollywood depicting patent attorneys in film, even if we are most likely the “bad guys” in the movie. Here is some more info from the film’s marketing folks. Go and check it out for yourself:
————————————————- Synopsis: Based on the true story of college professor and part-time inventor Robert Kearns’s (Greg Kinnear) long battle with the U.S. automobile industry, Flash of Genius tells the tale of one man whose fight to receive recognition for his ingenuity would come at a heavy price. But this determined engineer refused to be silenced, and he took on the corporate titans in a battle that nobody thought he could win. The Kearns were a typical 1960s Detroit family, trying to live their version of the American Dream. Local university professor Bob married teacher Phyllis (Lauren Graham) and, by their mid-thirties, had six kids who brought them a hectic but satisfying Midwestern existence. When Bob invents a device that would eventually be used by every car in the world, the Kearns think they have struck gold. But their aspirations are dashed after the auto giants who embraced Bob’s creation unceremoniously shunned the man who invented it. Ignored, threatened and then buried in years of litigation, Bob is haunted by what was done to his family and their future. He becomes a man obsessed with justice and the conviction that his life’s work — or for that matter, anyone’s work — be acknowledged by those who stood to benefit. And while paying the toll for refusing to compromise his dignity, this everyday David will try the unthinkable: to bring Goliath to his knees. ————————————————- Official Trailer in Mobile, HD, Quicktime and Windows ————————————————- Official One-sheet ————————————————-
Now the only question that remains is this: How do they turn this movie into a video game???
I now have a presence in Second Life, on the PG (i.e., ok for all ages) region of Pumori. My XboxLIVE gamertage is Aviator, so naturally keeping with the theme my SL avatar is Aviator Kidd. Our Second Life Outpost is lakeside in Pumori. Stop by and say hello.
Second Life URL (SLURL) (if you have Second Life installed, you can click the link to teleport to our outpost)
Here is the SLURL if you want the details: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Pumori/144/111/31
I’ve received a number of requests to link to other web sites. I guess that is a good thing, and means people actually read this blog! I don’t have room for all of them on the sidebar, so I have created this post to manage links to other sites. If you want to cross-link, let me know, and I will keep this post updated.
ABA Committee on Computer Gaming & Virtual Worlds
Well it’s not strictly video game IP law, but it certainly applies to video games and explores, in view of KSR, how easy it may or may not be to obtain patent protection for game play methods, so should be worth checking out:
The Michigan Law Review’s companion journal First Impressions today published an online symposium on the Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit, and Patent Law. The symposium takes place against a backdrop of three recent Supreme Court decisions—KSR v. Teleflex, Microsoft v. AT&T, and eBay v. MercExchange—on patent law. A diverse group of authors explores whether these cases, considered together, represent a recent upheaval in patent law and redefine the relationship between the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court or if such predictions are overblown. University of Michigan Law Professor Rebecca S. Eisenberg contends that the Federal Circuit’s control over patent law remains little diminished by the Court’s recent foray into patent jurisprudence and argues that the most significant impact of KSR may be to embolden the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reject more patent applications for obviousness without fear of reversal. George Washington University Law Professor John F. Duffy argues that the Supreme Court’s reform of patent law substance and procedure was predictable and that KSR’s importance derives from the fact that it highlights many separate trends that are reshaping the patent system. Patent litigator Harold C. Wegner believes that the Microsoft case revealed the balkanized nature of the Federal Circuit and that KSR, through which the Supreme Court created a unified message, will therefore be crucial to the Federal Circuit under future Chief Judge Randal Rader. Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Eli Lilly & Co. Robert A. Armitage proposes that Congress adopt the National Academy of Sciences’ recommendations for reforming patent law rather than pursuing “anti-troll” objectives and simultaneously defends the judiciary’s successful track record of responding to common criticisms of anti-trolls without legislative intervention. Patent litigators Stephen G. Kunin and Andrew K. Beverina explain KSR’s effect on patent law and outline lessons that case suggests for patent prosecution and litigation. To download a PDF of the entire symposium, feel free to click here. Additional First Impressions content is available at http://www.michiganlawreview.org/.