Top 10 Gaming Patents: How Many Slowed Down Innovation?

from the go-through-the-list dept

rijit writes in to point to a list of the "top ten most important video gaming patents." It's clearly a pretty subjective list, but what's most interesting is that as you read through the list you realize that almost all of the patents described were used by companies to hold back others from innovating. Is one company really harmed by having another company show a big arrow in the sky directing which way you should go in a video game car race? What was wrong with just letting the games and the consoles actually compete on the merits of what they put into the market? Reading through the list of patents (and the related lawsuits) it's hard to see a single one that actually encouraged innovation -- but there are plenty that clearly made it much more difficult and expensive for others to innovate.

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  1. icon
    rijit (profile), Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 9:48am

    The only pantent I see in that list that was worth the paper is the Nintendo situation where Atari was republishing Nintendo's games.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Scooby, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 10:08am


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Mitch the Bitch, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 10:10am

    Ive been moaning about a company in San Jose Ca called Immersion Corp. that has strong armed the "Tactile Feedback" industry for over a decade with an overly broad unjust patent. Basically it says ANY device that connects to ANY computer which provides ANY tactile feedback is a patent infringement on Immersion Corps I-Force technology.

    Total BULLSHIT....

    Since that time in the mid nineties the use of tactile feedback better known as force feedback for PC gaming has been under the thumb of this Company which does almost ZERO innovating and lots of suing. What innovation has taken place since this horrible patent was given? Nothing but a name chage of the actual API in over 10 years since this patent was granted. Is that innovative in any way?

    Dr. Louis Rosenberg is the patent whore that owns this so-called comapny which has all but ruined an entire industry. This companies ONLY goal is to horde patents, PERIOD...

    The really sad irony is that the horribly liberal Ca appeals Cts upheld this travesty of the patent system twice....

    Dr. Louis Rosenberg you have given the ammo to all anti semites world-wide and you should be ashamed of yourself for destroying an entire industry for no reason except pure GREED... Your company harms the public. If you were in front of me right now I'd bitch slap your sad sack ass.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    rstr5105, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 10:11am


    Hm, I didn't see a single patent on that list that "Encouraged" innovation. It looks more to me like these patents were used to stomp flat anybody doing something REMOTELY similar to what the original patent suggested. Further, it looks as if that's all these patents are going to continue to be used for

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 10:18am


    To be honest I don't think even this one has merit in a sane world

    Why should Nintendo be the only people allowed to produce games for their platform (the same goes for all companies incidentally)

    Sega weren't republishing as far as I am aware - they were writing new games

    In any other industry this would be pounced on and is totally anti competitive. why shouldn't Sega produce a game for Nintendo? and once I've bought the console it should be my right to shove anything into it within reason (cheese toasties probably wouldn't be a good thing)

    Ford made my car but they don't make the brake pads, tyres etc etc I have used over the years nor did they make the radio I installed

    Having said that I recognise stealing the software from the patent office was probably a bad thing

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 10:19am


    How in the world do you patent a universially known game like pong? That would be like trying to patent a football video game. Oh and the link in the article goes straight to the number one patent, a little anticlimatic dont you think?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 11:04am


    Dont forget the frivolous patents:
    Microsoft scored a patent that allows a player to gain points based on meeting goals in a game.

    Kill a monster, score some points.
    Shoot a basket, score some points.

    Though this patent could never hold up in court, it could cost a small business a lot of money in legal fees to defend itself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    jsnbase, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 11:16am


    "Dr. Louis Rosenberg you have given the ammo to all anti semites world-wide"

    What the hell is wrong with you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    PhysicsGuy, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 11:41am

    Re: Microsoft

    i haven't read the patents but really? i mean, realy?!?!?!? o.O ... considering the first arcade game EVER (computer space) used points how in the hell was that concept patentable? that's the MOST frivolous patent EVER.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    rijit (profile), Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re: by Enrico Suarve

    I didn't mean in my earlier post that it is a good patent, just saying it is the only one I see worth the paper it is written on.

    If companies choose to restrict access to their devices I do not think it is a good thing, I hate being locked into anything, but does it lock out innovation? After all Nintendo fell to last place against it's competitors in the past decade. If Nintendo had an open standard for anyone to use when they first entered the US market, would the video games market have come as far? Nintendo's competitors had to innovate to get the lead, didn't they? Is that not what a patent is meant to do, give you a lead on your competitors while they try and compete against you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Scooby

    Was it worth it to add that insightful comment?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 1:43pm


    Did I miss something? Every one of those Top-10 points only talked about the lawsuits involved. They didn't mention thing-one about what innovation came out of those patents.

    The only innovation I saw was finding craftier ways to word patents and even craftier ways to circumvent them.

    Worst. List. Evar.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Matt Bennett, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: jsnbase

    I would like to point out that that comment, by itself, does not neccessarily make the poster anti-semitic. It does seem kinda superfulous, but some people fail to find better words to describe how they feel.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 1:47pm

    Re: ????

    Its like patenting PacMan. It was new back then and no one had thought of it before.

    to #9 He means the achievement system not the in game points.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    PhysicsGuy, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Re: ????

    oh, ok... the way he worded it sounded like they owned a patent on in-game points. that's a little more understandable as to how they landed that patent.

    about the pong patent though, that's 100% understandable. that was waaay before anyone had any idea video games were going to be any kind of commercial success in any way, and it was originally played on a modified oscilloscope at the end of the 50s, although that wasn't the one patented and it wasn't called pong; that's the name atari made famous. pong = patentable ... pac-man would be a little harder to pull off though, considering the format for the arcade style machines that it was originally designed for had already done. the device in which pong was patented with was quite original when it came out...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re:

    Perhaps a remedial reading comprehension class Jsnbase? After 7-8 years you may be able to understand something you read without feeling the need to selectively crop the content to make yourself feel like a big man instead of the little girl you really are...



    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Starky, Jan 23rd, 2007 @ 3:20pm

    Part of one of the rulings makes sense.

    It's about Sega, the top of page 4

    "The court saw through Sega’s arguments, stating that ...“[a] trademark is misused if it serves to limit competition in the manufacture and sales of a product. That is the special province of the limited monopolies provided pursuant to the patent laws.”"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Jan 24th, 2007 @ 1:19am

    Re: Re: Re: by Enrico Suarve

    Fair enough - sorry about that - got the wrong end of a long stick!

    I still don't see how locking people out of your console helps even the console manufacturer

    Sega didn't innovate due to this - they stole and were slapped down for it. Sorry for opening up the thread to fanboys but I think lockout is one of the big reasons PCs are more widely distributed than Macs, Apples insistance on locking companies out at the beginning meant that more other companies got onto the PC bandwagon early on helping push it forward with more options and choice

    I can't help wondering what would happen if Sony/Nintento/Microsoft opening up one of theior platforms in this way

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Scooby, Jan 24th, 2007 @ 10:10am

    Re: Re: Scooby

    Was it worth it to add that insightful comment?

    Yes, as much as it was for you to add yours.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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