Konami has been granted a controversial patent in Europe, despite the European Patent Convention (EPO) insistence that methods for playing video games cannot be patented.
The patent refers to a system which identifies which player in a soccer game has the ball, and to which nearest player the ball can be passed. The application was originally denied by the EPO, but has now been granted by the Technical Board of Appeal.
The EPO had previously argued that only part of the system was a technical issue and there were already previous examples of the same concept in use. The Technical Board of Appeal agreed with Konami that more of the system involved technical improvements than identified by the EPO and that they had not been previously used by any other game.
According to a report by Out-Law.com
, the Technical Board indicated that, “The guide display device according to claim 1 indeed represents a physical entity in particular comprising displaying means which have a technical character by their nature. The displaying steps of the independent method claim imply the use of displaying means which provides a technical character to the method."
The system is likely to form a part of the Pro Evolution Soccer
(aka Winning Eleven
) series, which represents Konami’s best selling franchise in Europe. The specific nature of the patent recalls early patents made by companies such as Sega and Nintendo at the start of the 32-bit era which subsequently made it difficult for other developers to create intuitive camera control system without risking patent infringements.