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Thread: Videogame patents

  1. #1
    zombologist Senior Member doc_bean's Avatar
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    Default Videogame patents

    http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20...nberg_01.shtml

    2 lawyers saying how patents aren't used enough in the videogames industry. I, of course, disagree. While patents do serve their purpose in other branches of industry, I am against the use of it in any branch of the cultural/entertainment industry.

    The interesting thing is that software patents aren't allowed in the EU (okay, software patents with industrial or technical applications are). This also makes me wonder that if these patents ever become commonplace in the US, whether or not wa would see 2 separate markets form, the US market and the rest of the world (I don't know how Japan stands on software patents) ?

    Anyway, to the Americans: write your congressman/senator that they should support any bill outlawing such patents
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Videogame patents

    bah, all these issues make me sick.
    Don't get me wrong, none of this is directed towards you or the issue that you pointed out, but towards the de facto situation of these things.

    In theory, patents are a good thing and I support the idea.
    However, as with many many other things, people/corporations take this to an extreme.
    Do I think that someone coming up with a new idea deserves and should get the credit (and whatever benefits, if he/she sees fit) for it ? Hell, yes.
    However, look at some of the US laws related to cryptographic software, or at the more famous SCO case (them claiming they have a patent over Linux (!)). I wouldn't be surprised if in the future EA or Microsoft or some other huge gaming company decides that adventure games based on some character that jumps over obstacles and shoots at critters are a patent, and anybody making games like that should pay them for a license... (sure, I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the gist..)
    Therapy helps, but screaming obscenities is cheaper.

  3. #3
    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Videogame patents

    Patents for the physics engines used could possibly come under technology patents.

    Entertainment/Arts is normally covered by copyright laws.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Videogame patents

    could and should, of course.
    algorithms, engines, techniques, all of these are ok. What I'm concerned of is more generic and not-very-clearly-specified things that brink on the absurd - see my exaggerated example above...
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  5. #5
    zombologist Senior Member doc_bean's Avatar
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    Default Re: Videogame patents

    The problem is that an a patent doesn't just cover a specific implementation, it covers the IDEA behind the implementation.
    Things like engines are already well protected by copyright, but patents can be used to protect entire concepts.

    I don't fear one company forbidding another from using a concept as much as I fear that all the big companies will own a ton of patents, which they will pool, and that the newer smaller companies and independent don't stand a chance anymore.
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    Lord of the House Flies Member Al Khalifah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Videogame patents

    I wouldn't be surprised if in the future EA or Microsoft or some other huge gaming company decides that adventure games based on some character that jumps over obstacles and shoots at critters are a patent, and anybody making games like that should pay them for a license... (sure, I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the gist..)
    I believe Atari used to hold a patent on video games and Nintendo had to buy a license from Atari in order to develop more. There were many licensing issues in the early days of this kind. This may be a slight simplification but it shows that perhaps things have gone full circle.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Senior Member English assassin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Videogame patents

    The problem is that an a patent doesn't just cover a specific implementation, it covers the IDEA behind the implementation.
    Things like engines are already well protected by copyright, but patents can be used to protect entire concepts
    This is it in a nutshell. Copyright prevents copying, but you could sit down and create a whole new peaice of work from scratch and you would be free to use it even if it happened to be very very similar to an exisiting work.

    With a patent, even if you genuinely develop the idea wholly independently, the patent owner can prevent you using it. Its a much more fundamental brake on development. Though its true there is a compulsory licencing regime, and true also they last a lot less time than copyright (but 15 years if a lifetime in IT anyway)

    One this I am clear about is if they want to apply patents to software generally the patents in question would have to have very different characteristics from traditional patents protecting things like industrial processes. They should last less long and the definition of the inventive step should be made quite hard to satisfy.

    Otherwise we are simply creating a restraint on trade.
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