Patent Holder Decides to Sue Mojang, Just About Everyone Else
Software patents are a weird field. Lots of companies patent all manner of things, often not because they intend to do anything with those patents or even build the products they’re patenting — but to protect themselves from lawsuits. Lawsuits like the one that was just filed against Minecraft developer Mojang and a whole lot of other big names in the video game industry.
According to a Twitter update from Mojang’s Markus “Notch” Persson, the Minecraft creator awoke to find a suit filed against him and his company today. But it seems Mojang isn’t the only company being targeted: Fruit Ninja creator Half Brick is also being sued for patent infringement, as is mobile game maker Gameloft, Electronic Arts, Square Enix and X-Plane simulator maker Laminar Research.
The patent in question is a security feature “for preventing unauthorized access to electronic data on an electronic device,” and is owned by a company called Uniloc and was issued its patent in 2005. You can read all about it here.
The suits have been filed in East Texas, a district known for siding with patent holders in suits like this, but often cases like these never make it to court. The whole purpose of “patent trolling,” or issuing lawsuits against various companies backed by a somewhat vague software patent such as this one, is that going to court is often a huge expensive hassle — and companies such as Uniloc hope that companies with money would rather settle out of court than be bothered.
But if Uniloc was hoping Mojang might throw money at it, it may be in for a surprise. Notch is an adamant detractor of software patents and said on Twitter he’d rather invest the settlement money in fighting the troll than pay it to go away.