Saturday, January 13, 2007

Introversion' s Game Developer Blog

Here is sweet blog that will follow a game production company in England through their construction of a new game. It looks like these guys developed Darwinia, a game I have not played, but has survived with the fittest.

Introversion Blog

Before I could think to myself, "how cool," my law visor began clouding my vision with potential IP problems. Do these guys realize that by disclosing so much about the gaming process they could inadvertently harm their IP assets? They seem preoccupied with disappointing gamers, but what about disappointing their lawyers? More specifically, if their blog mentions particular details about game play mechanics, programming algorithms, or other ideas which may be patentable (here in America...keep in mind they are British), they could trip public notice activators under 102(b) (a bar to patentability if the invention is disclosed in a printed publication one year before applying for a patent). A 102(b) bar to patentability is absolute, so they should be aware if they care to protect their ideas.

It seems like game companies in general, do not care to get patents for their inventions within games. They could do it, but it would be expensive, and the utility of the patent is questionable. Similar to other electronics industries, if the video game companies all decided to patent every innovation they came up with, there would be a huge thicket in no time (many overlapping patents with nobody able to tell whether they can exclude others) and the patent system would cease to function effectively as a spur for innovation: all of the players would be locked up by the others. As a gamer, I think it is good that companies do not pursue game patents too vigorously in order to keep the industry open (some are pretty obvious such as Sega's patent from Crazy Taxi for the idea to have people jump out of the way of your speeding taxi when you are about to hit them). As a soon-to-be lawyer though, I think these companies are foolish for not acting selfishly. Think Adam Smith: screw the industry at large, its all about the Benjamins.

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