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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Any experts on how patents work? Because I think $OE is trying to pull a fast one on the MMO market.

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35 posts found
  Rhoklaw

Elite Member

Joined: 1/12/04
Posts: 3096

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OP  3/08/14 7:01:50 AM#1

Apparently $OE has filed some peculiar patents over the years and if they get approved, could affect a lot of future MMO's in development. $OE has currently filed as far as I can tell, patents for...

1) Chronicler ( Quest / Story / Character History ).

2) Creature Creation System skill from SWG, oriented to Bio Engineer and Creature Handler professions, to include genetic engineering of pets through cross DNA splicing, hybrids, incubation, eggs, selling of said pets, ect.

3) Dynamic Buffing System skill from SWG, oriented to the Entertainer profession.

4) Dynamic Reverse Engineering System.

5) Random Name Generator.

 

Since I'm no  expert on patents or how they work. I am wondering if patents like these could be more detrimental then beneficial to the MMO market. I remember a similar issue with some company claiming all 3D online games owe them licensing fees because they had a patent on that concept. Also, how does a patent work? Can previously designed games that were in development before a patent was approved be grandfathered in? Also, speaking specifically about patents on game mechanics for a game that no longer exists, is that even allowed or held up in court? SWG is dead, so shouldn't the patents for that game be denied as well?

  someforumguy

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/25/07
Posts: 3505

3/08/14 7:12:16 AM#2

I am not a fan in general of the current patent system for tech (especially the US version).

But this could have something to do with the upcoming MMO they mentioned that would satisfy SWG vets or something. The creature handler and later on bio engineering were very cool sandbox mechanics in SWG. I always hoped to see a combination of those two in a game.

  Squeak69

Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/21/13
Posts: 972

cheese cheese wheres da bloody cheese

3/08/14 7:24:51 AM#3

SOE like most large companies especilly entertainment ones, has a building large enough to have its own zip code full of lawyers, so im pretty ure whether or not its legal is not really in question.

of course that dousnt mean its a good thing or right, most of the laws in this country are scewed and screwed up these days.

F2P may be the way of the future, but ya know they dont make them like they used to
Proper Grammer & spelling are extra, corrections will be LOL at.

  SpottyGekko

Hard Core Member

Joined: 9/26/04
Posts: 2956

3/08/14 7:26:32 AM#4

SOE own the code and game design elements for SWG. The fact that SWG is not currently an active game means nothing and doesn't change their ownership rights on the code one bit.

They have every right to try to protect there intellectual property with patents. 

  Phry

Elite Member

Joined: 7/01/04
Posts: 5357

3/08/14 7:43:56 AM#5

Patents can be very valuable, not just in terms of protecting your own IP's etc, but because if you 'own' an idea and anyone else tries to use it, then they have to pay for it, you only have to look at the ongoing battle between apple and samsung etc to see how much of that goes on, and why patents are such a 'big' thing.

But for those mechanics mentioned, it does mean that any game that tried to 'use' them, whether for profit or not, will fall foul of the law and in most cases, either have to remove those features that infringe on the copyright, or pay damages for use of them, either that or be shut down on a more or less permanent basis. Its a big thing. And if SOE does have the copyright on those features, which given that they did after all create them, its entirely possible that they will, then anyone trying to 'copy' those features will face significant problems. Ideas can often be extremely valuable.

  Rhoklaw

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Joined: 1/12/04
Posts: 3096

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OP  3/08/14 7:57:33 AM#6
Originally posted by Phry

Patents can be very valuable, not just in terms of protecting your own IP's etc, but because if you 'own' an idea and anyone else tries to use it, then they have to pay for it, you only have to look at the ongoing battle between apple and samsung etc to see how much of that goes on, and why patents are such a 'big' thing.

But for those mechanics mentioned, it does mean that any game that tried to 'use' them, whether for profit or not, will fall foul of the law and in most cases, either have to remove those features that infringe on the copyright, or pay damages for use of them, either that or be shut down on a more or less permanent basis. Its a big thing. And if SOE does have the copyright on those features, which given that they did after all create them, its entirely possible that they will, then anyone trying to 'copy' those features will face significant problems. Ideas can often be extremely valuable.

So I guess I should go sit in a patent office all day claiming ownership of every known thing to man that isn't patented yet, lol. I foresee a very dim future for humanity with greed being at the forefront of it's demise. Thanks for the info.

  Kevyne-Shandris

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/10/08
Posts: 1980

You can't † BURY † ¤¤ Holy Paladins ¤¤ As we will always __.- ASCEND -.__

3/08/14 8:12:46 AM#7
Originally posted by Rhoklaw
So I guess I should go sit in a patent office all day claiming ownership of every known thing to man that isn't patented yet, lol. I foresee a very dim future for humanity with greed being at the forefront of it's demise. Thanks for the info.

Or, you can sit on the street with a tin cup and sign begging for coppers, like other famous people who became destitute, when their inventions were stolen by any Tom, Dick or Harry without recourse.

 

Since patents are extremely expensive, it's usually left for corporations to file them (changes with them added additional yearly fees). Copyrights are pennies on the dollar in cost compared to patents and trademarks. And if a company doesn't file their ideas, another company will, anyhow.

  goboygo

Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/02/13
Posts: 414

3/08/14 8:54:40 AM#8

It is nearly impossible to patent something that already exists or is already in use in some form that you did not invent.  So good luck Sony!  They are mostly hoping they get a dim patent judge.  Technology companies have been able to pull this off before because of the confusion caused by technology patents.

But even if they get the patent when it gets challenged by someone with money it would get tossed.

 

  Kevyne-Shandris

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/10/08
Posts: 1980

You can't † BURY † ¤¤ Holy Paladins ¤¤ As we will always __.- ASCEND -.__

3/08/14 9:01:16 AM#9
Originally posted by goboygo

But even if they get the patent when it gets challenged by someone with money it would get tossed.

Ah, and who has that type of money again???

 

:blink:

  hayes303

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/13/04
Posts: 365

3/08/14 9:09:58 AM#10

I would imagine that if you looked up what patents any MMORPG companies have in the US, you would be able to make a similar statement. SOE jumps out because so many people here have a unreasoning hatred of it.

I would imagine they have those patents so they can make the game they say will satisfy SWG fanboys (they are on crack, if you have followed these forums for any amount of time, you will see the SWG bitter vet demographic will never be satisfied with anything SOE does).

  PsychoticHamster

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/01/12
Posts: 98

3/08/14 9:16:21 AM#11
AFAIK you can patent specific code and programs, like their name generator, but you can't patent an idea. I could include a name generator in my game as long as I wrote it or someone on my team wrote it. I don't it would be very possible/ ethical to patent a piece of gameplay like "dynamic buffing system". If I wholesale ripped it from their game then I would expect some sort of legal action, but using it as a template and making your own or even just creating your own clone is perfectly legal.

  gt4980b

Novice Member

Joined: 4/12/06
Posts: 117

3/08/14 9:17:12 AM#12

The way patent law works today, you have to patent everything.  It will come back to bite you if it don't.  It is not uncommon for people to have created something then receive a cease and desist order because someone goes and files a patent and the original creator didn't.

Its not SOE.  Its our busted and fragmented patent system.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13597

3/08/14 9:33:07 AM#13

And so you see why software patents need to be banned entirely.  Trying to patent software that does something along the lines of such and such makes about as much sense as trying to patent novels with a storyline along the lines of such and such.  They're so vague that no one has the slightest clue what violates a patent and what doesn't.  And they do exactly nothing to encourage innovation and a lot to stifle it, which is entirely contrary to the point of patents.

To be fair to SOE, they might be trying to get random patents for purely defensive reasons, so that if some other game company sues SOE for violating their patents, SOE can sue them back for patent infringement.  That doesn't work against patent trolls that produce nothing but just buy up patents so that they can sue people.  Even so, the mutually assured destruction of companies suing each other over vague patent violations that could yield an outcome anywhere from the patents being invalidated entirely to a judgment of tens of millions of dollars has led to an awful lot of cases where companies would sign a deal basically saying, you can use our patents and we can use your patents.

If SOE does go out and start trying to sue indie developers into oblivion for violating vague patents, it would be--and should be--a huge PR debacle for them.  Then again, EA has shown that even if you frequently do a lot of outrageous and unjustifiable things, enough players will still buy your games for you to make money.

Computer software does need legal protection to avoid copycats making it unprofitable to develop software.  But patents are the wrong way to go about that; the right way is copyright and trademark laws.  Trademarks are fairly narrow:  no one but SOE can call a game EverQuest, but you can call a game whatever you want so long as it isn't similar enough to EverQuest or Warcraft or Guild Wars or Final Fantasy or whatever as to lead customers to believe that it's part of a series that it isn't.

The overwhelming majority of things that you could do with a game are permissible under trademark law; it's just a handful of blatant copying that is banned.  This is a good thing, as it prevents shady developers from making cheap, knock-off products that consumers pay for thinking is the "real" one.

The other important protection for computer software is copyright.  Under copyright law, you can write your own source code to do something kind of similar to what EverQuest does.  You can create art assets that look kind of similar to EverQuest.  (Actually, let's say EverQuest Next, as the original looks rather dated--because it is.)  But you cannot use SOE's source code or art assets without their permission.

Copyright sometimes gets a bad rap from DRM intended to protect it, but it's necessary.  If it cost SOE $1 million to implement something and you can steal it for free, then everyone will want to be the one to steal it for free and no one will implement it the first time.  If it cost SOE $1 million to implement something and it would cost you $1 million to implement something similar, there's no benefit to waiting; indeed, if you're the first to implement something cool, you get to be the one that people play while it's still fresh and novel.

  Kevyne-Shandris

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/10/08
Posts: 1980

You can't † BURY † ¤¤ Holy Paladins ¤¤ As we will always __.- ASCEND -.__

3/08/14 9:36:37 AM#14
Originally posted by PsychoticHamster
AFAIK you can patent specific code and programs, like their name generator, but you can't patent an idea. I could include a name generator in my game as long as I wrote it or someone on my team wrote it. I don't it would be very possible/ ethical to patent a piece of gameplay like "dynamic buffing system". If I wholesale ripped it from their game then I would expect some sort of legal action, but using it as a template and making your own or even just creating your own clone is perfectly legal.

You can patent the design based on an idea, though.

 

If a company came up with a new way to change the orientation of vectors to follow a given point in a zone, sketched it out, yeah, it's patentable.

 

The key is getting the patents out FIRST, not who will have the most, because the challenge in court is proving who had it first.

 

Have a new method or design, have it filed before showing it in public. Or the 5 finger discount will begin.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13597

3/08/14 9:45:37 AM#15
Originally posted by Kevyne-Shandris

If a company came up with a new way to change the orientation of vectors to follow a given point in a zone, sketched it out, yeah, it's patentable.

A very specific hardware implementation is patentable.  Merely saying "we're going to use this math formula" is not.

There's also the issue that obvious things aren't patentable.  But this creates the question of what is obvious.  Something that any reasonably good programmer could come up with should surely be considered obvious and not patentable.  But if no one on the jury for a patent trial knows anything about programming, how will they be able to tell if it was obvious?  That's why patent trial outcomes can be so random.

Consider the recent case against New Egg when some patent troll managed to convince a jury that he had patent Internet commerce because he had used encryption together with a modem--even though the encryption he used was symmetric key, and therefore, completely useless for Internet commerce.  And even though the public key encryption schemes that Internet commerce does rely upon had been published about a decade prior to the patent.  The jury was simply wrong, but none of them knew much about encryption, so they had to guess.

  Kevyne-Shandris

Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/10/08
Posts: 1980

You can't † BURY † ¤¤ Holy Paladins ¤¤ As we will always __.- ASCEND -.__

3/08/14 9:45:40 AM#16
Originally posted by Quizzical

And so you see why software patents need to be banned entirely.  Trying to patent software that does something along the lines of such and such makes about as much sense as trying to patent novels with a storyline along the lines of such and such.

It has to be, because it's the only protection they have against theft.

 

If indie company A wants to cut operational costs and reverse engineers Company B's patent method to streamline animations, Company B's work is nullified. How do you think Company B will fight it's product from being pilfered? With a smile and waving a donations hat?

 

If the companies won't play fair with themselves, in the spirit of cooperation, there needs to be protections. Or it's the early 19th century again, when patents didn't exist, and many a person died in utter poverty over it.

 

Those patents protects the little guy as well, not just the mega corporations.

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 20226

3/08/14 9:48:42 AM#17

I have a few patents of my own and i have worked with patent lawyers. I hate the whole system.

the original intent is to encourage investment and innovation. However, as of now, it is used as a weapon by big xompanies to put road block for others to do interesting stuff.

in my old company, it is not uncommon to brainstorm a bunch of ideas just to patent, whether we are planning to make anything.

this kind of free form patenting is very bad for the industry. In addition, a lot of "obvious" and not novel ideas got through because the inventor can use obscure language.

  Kevyne-Shandris

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Joined: 3/10/08
Posts: 1980

You can't † BURY † ¤¤ Holy Paladins ¤¤ As we will always __.- ASCEND -.__

3/08/14 9:53:25 AM#18
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by Kevyne-Shandris

If a company came up with a new way to change the orientation of vectors to follow a given point in a zone, sketched it out, yeah, it's patentable.

A very specific hardware implementation is patentable.  Merely saying "we're going to use this math formula" is not.

There's also the issue that obvious things aren't patentable.  But this creates the question of what is obvious.  Something that any reasonably good programmer could come up with should surely be considered obvious and not patentable.  But if no one on the jury for a patent trial knows anything about programming, how will they be able to tell if it was obvious?  That's why patent trial outcomes can be so random.

Consider the recent case against New Egg when some patent troll managed to convince a jury that he had patent Internet commerce because he had used encryption together with a modem--even though the encryption he used was symmetric key, and therefore, completely useless for Internet commerce.  And even though the public key encryption schemes that Internet commerce does rely upon had been published about a decade prior to the patent.  The jury was simply wrong, but none of them knew much about encryption, so they had to guess.

Well, there's things patentable out there that don't need to be very specific, with 100 year time limits, too. Yeah...100 years.

 

The really smart inventors don't even patent to avoid revealing their designs (patents require the details to be filed, so when the statute of limitations are up, other companies can essentially copy [or refine] their process. That happens every day in the drug industry). Coca-Cola's recipe isn't patented, for example.

  laserit

Elite Member

Joined: 3/24/10
Posts: 1567

Confusius say: Man who go to bed with itchy bum wake up with stinky finger

3/08/14 10:33:29 AM#19
Originally posted by Rhoklaw

Apparently $OE has filed some peculiar patents over the years and if they get approved, could affect a lot of future MMO's in development. $OE has currently filed as far as I can tell, patents for...

1) Chronicler ( Quest / Story / Character History ).

2) Creature Creation System skill from SWG, oriented to Bio Engineer and Creature Handler professions, to include genetic engineering of pets through cross DNA splicing, hybrids, incubation, eggs, selling of said pets, ect.

3) Dynamic Buffing System skill from SWG, oriented to the Entertainer profession.

4) Dynamic Reverse Engineering System.

5) Random Name Generator.

 

Since I'm no  expert on patents or how they work. I am wondering if patents like these could be more detrimental then beneficial to the MMO market. I remember a similar issue with some company claiming all 3D online games owe them licensing fees because they had a patent on that concept. Also, how does a patent work? Can previously designed games that were in development before a patent was approved be grandfathered in? Also, speaking specifically about patents on game mechanics for a game that no longer exists, is that even allowed or held up in court? SWG is dead, so shouldn't the patents for that game be denied as well?

@OP

 

You can't patent an idea. What you patent is the way in which you make that idea work. Also patents don't last forever, a new U.S. patent last for 20yrs (used to be 17)

"If you make an ass out of yourself, there will always be someone to ride you." - Bruce Lee

  Gardavsshade

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/27/11
Posts: 639

3/08/14 10:41:48 AM#20
Originally posted by SpottyGekko

SOE own the code and game design elements for SWG. The fact that SWG is not currently an active game means nothing and doesn't change their ownership rights on the code one bit.

They have every right to try to protect there intellectual property with patents. 

My gut instinct is screaming at me one thing: SOE is building up what it needs to go after and shut down the Emulators.


Nothing to see here... just another MMO Ghost....

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