In today's extensive main feature
, Gamasutra takes an illustrated look back at the most important video game patents of all time - covering a broad spectrum that includes visual display, control schemes, and even game design mechanics.
In this excerpt, Ross Dannenberg and Steve Chang, both of intellectual property specialists Banner & Witcoff, Ltd., explain the methodology they employed to select their most important patents:
"We use very scientific methods in preparing this list: we sat around and asked each other "what do you think?"
Actually, we used a mix of the following in determining which patents make the list:
* Relativity to Video Games: We would not consider a patent on a high-speed DVD drive to be a video game patent, even though millions of video games load from one. On the other hand, we consider a patent describing a video game play method to be principally a video game patent.
* Financial Value: A good patent has financial value, period. That financial value can be realized in various forms, including licensing fees (voluntary or court-mandated), market share, and market leverage on secondary products (e.g., support products or accessories not necessarily covered by the patent), among other ways.
* Technological Importance: regardless of whether a patent issued in 1980 or 2007, each patent has an effect on the video game industry. Many, ok most, patents affect the industry exactly this much: nada. But a fundamental patent turns heads and the industry takes heed of the idea, incorporates the idea in video games, and develops new and ever better ideas and technologies on that foundation. When in doubt, and all other things being equal, we consider any patent that has been litigated (or licensed) to be more important than one that has not.
* The It-Factor: Sometimes an idea has that je ne sais quoi, or “it factor,“ that makes it stand out in the crowd. While many value a patent only by its financial worth or market leverage, sometimes a patent stands out on its own, regardless of what the owner does with it. When reading a patent that has the It-Factor, as opposed to thinking “duh! I could have done that,“ you think to yourself “why didn’t I think of that?”
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject
to see which video game patents Dannenberg and Chang selected as the most important of all time (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).