Posted on July 23, 2012, Ben Richardson Uniloc Inventor Attacked Over Minecraft Lawsuit
Sue Mojang, and risk the wrath of the internet. Via Eurogamer comes the story of Australian inventor Ric Richardson, who in 1992 patented software called “Uniloc” that made it possible to implement “try and buy” systems that are ubiquitous today in things like magazine promotions and hardware devices with pre-installed programs, among other things.
Beginning in 2003, Uniloc’s U.S. subsidiary began an aggressive series of 73 lawsuits designed to protect Richardson’s original patent. In July 2012, they sued Mojang, claiming that the company infringed on the Uniloc patent when creating Minecraft: Pocket Edition. Notch mentioned the lawsuit on Twitter, taking a dim view of software patents in general, and Richardson was soon bombarded with hate. Writing on his blog, the inventor is certainly sympathetic:
“I feel compelled to say something regarding all of the strong language and accusations being thrown around on Twitter, in the press and some rather disgusting emails sent to me personally because I had the audacity to put my email address on my site. [Which I am now sadly forced to remove].”
In an ideal world, this situation could be resolved with a minimum of anger, in a way that pleases all parties. In the real world, this outcome is less likely. In light of Richardson’s experience, though, sometimes it’s best to remember the Golden Rule: Don’t Be a Dick.