Court Ruling: EA's Anti-Piracy Software Is Patent Infringing

from the live-by-IP,-die-by-IP dept

Between the company’s general disposition and the incredible failure of the SimCity launch, Electronic Arts is becoming a name associated directly with digital rights management. The most infamous DRM platform the company has used is probably SecuROM, which was noteworthy for being equal parts mega-annoying to paying customers, as well as being so massively ineffective that games employing SecuROM later became amongst the most pirated video games of all time. But, results aside, EA would tell you that it needed to use DRM to protect the company from piracy. Even if SecuROM failed, the company had to at least try, or else the freeloaders that live the highlife getting around intellectual property laws would win. Violating IP laws is wrong, damn it, and EA was going to do everything in its power to right that wrong.

Including violating a notorious patent troll’s intellectual property to do so, apparently — at least, according to an East Texas court, which awarded Uniloc nearly $5 million after determining that EA violated the patent troll’s patent with the SecuROM platform.

Uniloc Luxembourg S.A. sued in 2013, claiming EA’s SecuROM video game activation system infringes on U.S. Patent No. 5,490,216. The system allows EA customers to activate and register their video games and is aimed at reducing piracy and “casual copying,” Uniloc alleged. SecuROM restricts the number of devices a customer can simultaneously activate a game on with the same key. EA games that use the system include “Alice: Madness Returns,” “Dragon Age II” and “Darkspore: Limited Edition,” the complaint stated. Uniloc asked the court to for compensatory damages and “a reasonable, on-going, post judgment royalty.” A federal jury agreed with Uniloc and awarded over $4.86 million in compensatory damages on Friday.

I have to admit, I feel a bit like the characters at the end of the original Jurassic Park movie, who were being attacked by velociraptors only to be saved at the last moment by the tyrannosaurus rex that had nearly murdered them all earlier. You don’t really root for either side; you can only pray they tear each other apart. That said, schadenfreude is one of my failings, and enjoying it with the healthy dose of irony that comes along with EA infringing on a patent with its anti-piracy software is so good, it’s likely fattening.

But, hey, live the IP sword, die by the IP sword, right?

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Comments on “Court Ruling: EA's Anti-Piracy Software Is Patent Infringing”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Happy ending: And then the lawyers decide to make John Steele their hero and they follow in his footsteps, spending all of their gains from this epic court battle on fines for attorneys fees from frivolous suits and contempt of court. Fortunately, they’d sued orphanages that can now use the extra funds to find homes for all the underprivileged children whose adopted parents raise them to vote for politicians who decrease the power of corporations to use their wealth and lawyers as a weapon again those poorer than themselves. And they lived happily ever after…until the Singularity occurred.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Payback is....

the bitch, isn’t it, EA?

After all this time defending and guarding their precious Securom, EA is trolled by a lawsuit they’ve lost…

Ah, sweet irony.

Wouldn’t it be great if they were forced to removed by whatever means possible all versions of Securom in all their games?

That would definitely make a few EA gamers very pleased!

Anonymous Coward says:

EA has long ago proved just how low it can slink when it comes to satisfying it’s customers. Not just the DRM issue but on-line requirements as well as poor coding that has to be fixed after release and poor implementation of their newest game of the month (whatever that happens to be).

Many of their bugs have been reported on and off in their forums only to have the member kicked out and then the thread closed because it was easier to ignore the gamers than issue a fix.

Just deserts for a company that well deserves receiving some asshole actions in return for their own.

I long ago went on boycott against EA. They won’t have to worry about jacking up the prices of their games to cover this additional expense bothering me. They weren’t worth the money back then and have done nothing visible to change that.

Well deserved indeed.

MrTroy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Honestly, I looked through the last 7 years of games released by EA (, and there aren’t many reasons to even bother boycotting them.

Mass Effect, Dragon Age and Dead Space are supposed to be good (all series-ised!), the Sims if you are into that, and maybe a handful of others.

Still, I’m sure there’s enough games covering enough genres that they really don’t care if I prefer indie games nowadays.

DCL says:

Some other Factoids

SecuROM is actually a Sony product. This means EA is being punished for USING a product… not creating it.

EA’s first use of SecuROM was indeed a bit overzealous and severely limited number of installs. EA then altered the policy to 5 installs and gave a way to unregistered installs to allow for new machines.

EA hasn’t shipped a game wrapped with SecuROM in a few years now

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'The enemy of my enemy...

‘… is my enemy’s enemy. No more, no less.’ -Maxim 29, ‘The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries’

Between EA and patent trolls, I’d rather see both of them torn to pieces or bled out by legal fees than either get a solid win, as no matter which side won, the public would still get hosed.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Re:Some other Factoids

“EA hasn’t shipped a game wrapped with SecuROM in a few years now.”

EA shipped Sims 3 and the Sims 2 Ultimate Collection (2014) with Securom.

Sims 3: ” However, SecuROM based restriction is still present within the digital version of the title, limiting users to a total of 5 authorizations for 5 different machines via online activation, each of which can be de-authorized online at any time. A legitimate serial key is required to download custom objects and Sims from the official website. This includes custom designs created by other Sims 3 players as well as additional content from EA.”

The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection:

“EA released The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection as a free download until July 31, 2014, but neglected to mention that the download also came with SecuROM included,[30] which was later revealed by the site Reclaim Your Game[31]”

Get your facts straight before stating them. I know about the UC because I was the one who inquired as to whether or not it actually had it-I used to be on the staff of RYG.

Kal Zekdor (profile) says:


Ugh… I just had flashbacks of just how much SecuROM sucked… My first encounter with SecuROM was way back in 2007. I had purchased an honest to goodness physical copy of Bioshock from an old-fashioned brick and mortar store (which I walked to barefoot in the snow uphill both ways).

I brought it home, unwrapped it, popped the DVD in my computer and installed. That is, I tried to. This being launch day, their activation servers were overwhelmed, and I couldn’t reach them. I give up for the night, and try again the next day. This time I manage to activate it.

I then try to launch the game. It does not. Instead, I get a SecuROM error message with an obscure error code, Error: 5024. After doing some research, I find this. (I’m a bit surprised that page is still up, actually.) So it turns out, it wouldn’t launch because I was running Process Explorer. I mean, seriously, wtf? I quit process explorer and tried to run Bioshock again, but apparently process explorer leaves a trace on the system SecuROM could detect, so I had to restart my entire machine. Except I forgot process explorer was set to run at startup. So I had to disable that, and restart again. Finally, finally, I got it to run, but at this point I was too angry to actually enjoy the game, so I quit after 5 minutes.

I also sure as hell wasn’t willing to go through that each and every time I wanted to play Bioshock, so I found this obscure program called ProcexpUnloader from a shady looking site. I spent 15 minutes throwing antivirus scans at it, poking at it with a hex editor, and wondering whether it was worth the risk. I decide to try it, and lo and behold it did exactly what it said on the tin and nothing more.

Anyway, sorry for the rant, but that was my first (and only) experience with SecuROM.

observer (user link) says:

Re: Flashbacks

Beware of anything that tries to stop you running tools like Process Explorer: they’re effectively saying that you don’t own your own computer. I’d have downloaded a crack. (On a more amusing note, some versions of it checked whether PE was running by looking for the filename in the list of active processes, so you only had to rename procexp.exe to something else. Or use the 64-bit version.)

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Flashbacks

I remember my physical copy of Bioshock 1. Never did work. Instead of screaming to me about Process Explorer, instead, it would try (and fail 100% of the time) to download Bioshock.exe at the end of the install process (only it wouldn’t tell me this was what it was doing, it just mentioned some generic BS about going online). Not only that, but upon failure, it would delete the entire game folder. Eventually, after many hours, I figured out that when the prompt came up saying it was going online, I should quickly rename the game folder to something else, let the download fail, quit the installer, drop in a cracked version of the executable and rename the folder back to what it was.

Kal Zekdor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Flashbacks

Yeah, that sounds like what would happen if SecuROM couldn’t contact the activation servers. I remember it was very late in the install process, and if it failed you had to start all over again. If this was anytime near launch day, their servers were wonky for days, so you may very well have had been suffering alongside myself.

Brian says:


“I have to admit, I feel a bit like the characters at the end of the original Jurassic Park movie, who were being attacked by velociraptors only to be saved at the last moment by the tyrannosaurus rex that had nearly murdered them all earlier. You don’t really root for either side; you can only pray they tear each other apart.”



FM Hilton (profile) says:


To this day I use a cracked .exe to run my Sims 2-and have done so for many years.

If Securom was supposed to stop this from happening, EA failed miserably, because a lot of other players use one as well.

In fact, most will not admit to using one while they do so, but Sims 2 was the last game EA had before they put Origin in as a requirement, thus enabling a slew of us to just skip their ‘piracy prevention’ program, which was a joke in the long run.

Origin is the real evil in their empire. Securom was a foretaste of data mining. Origin is the real deal, and not a pleasant dish to taste.

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