Gamasutra's latest feature
takes a close look at how patent law impacts the game industry, as two IP lawyers explain the latest results of cases and what developers should be aware of.
The article is written by Mark H. Bloomberg and J. Steven Baughman, two IP lawyers from law firm Ropes & Gray.
They write about many game-applicable patent topics in the article; one example is features. Recent precedent suggests that patented features can possibly be only a small piece of the pie when it comes to damages.
They write, "Many patents are directed to a single feature that may be included in a much larger, complex system... A number of recent decisions have addressed this issue and held that royalties should be based on the value of the patented component of a system, not on the value of the entire system."
"This is significant to the video game industry because many of the patents that have been asserted are directed to limited aspects of video game systems."
Many gaming patents are addressed in the same manner as software patents; thus, a recent case involving Microsoft Outlook may pave the way to showing how courts would handle a case about a patented feature.
"The jury awarded $357 million in royalties, but the appeals court rejected that award because the infringing use of Outlook's date-picker feature was a minor aspect of the much larger Outlook program, and the portion of the profit attributable to the date-picker was small," write the pair.
For much more information on patents, read the full feature, Patents And The Video Game Industry: What You Don't Know Could Hurt You, live now on Gamasutra