In a major video game IP licensing deal, Atari has licensed the Unreal 3 game engine and related development tools from Epic Games to develop games for next-generation platforms. With the Unreal and Doom engines being the only two FPS engine families out there, licensing of source code and development tools can be a tidy little income stream for Epic Games and id Software.
Banner & Witcoff is pleased to announce that a legal team representing prominent video-game manufacturers and developers–Team Play, Inc., P&P Marketing, Inc., and Cosmodog, Ltd.–prevailed on a motion for summary judgment of no copyright infringement in Team Play et al. v. Stephen W. Boyer d/b/a Skyboy Productions.
The two, full-size, arcade, video games at issue on this motion were Sharpshooter and Police Trainer® 2. In 1997, P&P Marketing paid Mr. Boyer on a contract development basis to make portions of the Sharpshooter game. P&P Marketing then manufactured and sold the Sharpshooter game. Years later, Cosmodog independently created a video game called Police Trainer® 2. Cosmodog contracted with Team Play to manufacture and sell Police Trainer® 2. As a result of the foregoing, Mr. Boyer claimed that Team Play, P&P Marketing, and Cosmodog allegedly infringed Mr. Boyer’s copyright registration in the Sharpshooter game.
On September 29, 2005, a federal court in Chicago held that there was no copying of source code from Sharpshooter to Police Trainer® 2. In addition, the Court held that there was no substantial similarity between any of the graphical art in the two games.
The legal team on this case representing Team Play, P&P Marketing, and Cosmodog included Banner & Witcoff attorneys Tim Meece, Mark Banner, and Jason Shull as well as Sheri Pellegrini from the Law Offices of Sheri Pellegrini. The decision citation is Team Play, Inc. v. Boyer, __ F.Supp.2d __, 2005 WL 2413344 (N.D.Ill. Sep 28, 2005) (NO. 03 C 7240).
From Form 10-Q, dated 5/10/05, as filed with the SEC.
International Gamco, Inc. v. Multimedia Games (PENDING) S.D. Cal.
International Gamco, Inc. International Gamco, Inc., or Gamco, claiming certain rights in United States Patent No. 5,324,035, or the ‘035 Patent, brought suit on May 25, 2004 against the Company in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, claiming that the Company’s central determinant system, as operated in the New York State Lottery, infringes the ‘035 Patent. The Company currently sublicenses the right to practice the technology stated in the ‘035 Patent in Native American gaming jurisdictions in the United States, pursuant to an agreement between it and Bally Gaming, Inc. Bally obtained the right to sublicense those rights to the Company from Oasis Technologies, Inc., or Oasis, a previous owner of the ‘035 Patent.
As summarized by David Webber of the Melbourne office of Davies Collison Cave in Australia, the Australian High Court has allowed an appeal by Eddie Stevens who was previously found to have circumvented a technical protection measure in Sony’s PlayStation console.
“The High Court considered that the PlayStation did not include a ‘technical protection measure’, as defined in the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) because it did not prevent any copyright infringement. It was considered that any infringement would have already occurred through burning a CD-ROM for play in the console, and the mod chip installed by Mr Stevens was used for a different purpose, ie subsequent play of the game. Based on the evidence submitted by Sony, it was not established that any infringement under the Act occurred merely by playing the game.”
As reported by the IP Law Bulletin, Sony and Immersion are back in court:
Sony has accused Immersion of fraud, alleging the company withheld statements from the inventor of the technology in question. Immersion fired back, saying Sony has initiated a smear campaign and accusing the company of misconduct.
In July, Sony Computer Entertainment filed a motion before Judge Wilken seeking relief from the final judgment on the grounds of alleged “fraud” and “newly discovered evidence” of purported prior art which Sony Computer Entertainment contends Immersion concealed and withheld.
“Immersion disputes and intends to vigorously defend itself against these allegations,” Immersion said in a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
A hearing has been set for Nov. 4, at which time the various motions for discovery filed by both parties will be consolidated and heard by a California district court judge.
The misconduct allegations are the latest development in an extended legal battle that began over vibrating videogame controller technology.
In September 2004, a federal court awarded Immersion, a relatively unknown electronics developer, $84 million in damages after ruling that Sony infringed its patents for a technology that lets video game controllers vibrate in-sync with on-screen effects.
Sony appealed the decision, but the final judgment upheld both the infringement ruling and the monetary award. In addition, the court awarded Immersion $8.7 in prejudgment interest. The judge also ordered an injunction against Sony PlayStation controllers that used the infringing technology.
Sony appealed both the decision and the injunction in the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
The lower court judge stayed the injunction while the federal appeals court processed Sony’s claim, ordering Sony to pay 1.37% in compulsory licensing fees for the duration of the stay.
Sony also appealed the compulsory licensing fee in federal appeals court.
Immersion had sued both Sony and Microsoft, claiming that Sony’s controllers for its PlayStation and PlayStation 2 console, as well as Microsoft’s Xbox controllers, infringe two of Immersion’s patents on its sensory feedback technology.
The Sony and Microsoft video game consoles have controllers that rumble and vibrate in conjunction with certain events, like explosions, in some of their video games.
Microsoft later settled the case out of court, agreeing to pay $26 million to Immersion.
In July of last year, Microsoft said it would pay Immersion $20 million to obtain licensing rights to the touch-based technology and $6.million to buy a 10% stake in the small company.
In 2001, Immersion settled another lawsuit over similar technology against InterAct Accessories, the largest distributor of gaming accessories in the U.S.
Immersion is represented in this matter by attorneys for Irell & Manella LLP. Sony is represented by Weil Gotshal & Manges.
The case is Immersion Corporation v. Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. et al, case no. 4:02-cv-00710, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
This is yes another example of a hollywood director teaming up with a major video game developer. Perhaps people will begin to take IP rights in video games a little more seriously…
The events over the past week down in New Orleans are simply tragic. The repercussions will be far reaching, long felt, and immense in scale. Even the Patent Arcade was down for a few days because our ISP is in the French Quarter (not that that compares to the tragedies that hurricane victims have had to endure, it’s just an indication of the far reaching repercussions of Katrina). Thus, in the vein of the Patent Arcade, it’s nice to see the gaming community doing something to help out.
Bungie, developer of Halo and Halo 2, is selling “Fight the Flood” t-shirts, and every cent of profit goes to hurricane relief. On top of that, all profit from the Bungie online store in the month of September, 2005, also goes to hurricane relief. Want to help out, and have a cool t-shirt to show for it? Buy one.
In an elegant display of its interopability, developer Newbie has demonstrated the Xbox 360’s ability to connect to portable media devices such as the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and iPod devices. Read more at Team Xbox.
On July 25, 2005, the Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit affirmed the Western District of Missouri’s dismissal of Frosty Treat’s complaint against Sony Computer Entertainment America, Inc. Frosty Treats asserted claims under state and federal law for trademark infringement and dilution, and for unfair competition, based on Son’y depiction of an ice cream truck and clown character in Sony’s Twisted Metal video game series. A complete case summary will be forthcoming, but for now the opinion can be obtained here.
The ‘hot coffee’ mod for Grand Theft Auto resulted in the game’s rating being changed from Mature to Adults Only. Many games not only don’t mind modding, but the game’s developer actually encourages it. There any many legal implications to modding, and who owns the resultant IP. See, for example, Microstar v. Formgen Inc., 154 F.3d 1107 (9th Cir. 1998).
But that’s not the point of this post. I just wanted to point out a Yahoo! article with some interesting musings about modding.
Microsoft Corp. said on Thursday it won exclusive rights to develop and publish multiplayer online games starring Marvel Enterprises Inc.’s super heroes, including Spider-man, the X-men and the Hulk. The deal covers massively multiplayer online (MMO) game titles developed for Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox 360 gaming console and published by the software giant’s game studio.
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has hinted that the company is considering licensing the software underlying the Xbox games console to outside companies, in a bid to expand its market share.
Want to play massively multiplayer online games, but don’t want to spend time building up your character’s stats? A new service, GamePal.com, gives anyone the ability to bypass the countless hours it can take to advance deep into online games like World of Warcraft by renting the use of such characters by the month.
Read more here.
From today’s Washington Post Express:
“GAMERS: In an apparent first, the Kansas City T-Bones and Schaumburg Flyers will let the results of two people’s X-Box [sic] baseball game count for the first two innings of a July 18 game. Then the minor league teams will take the firld in the third.”