Sega Sets Its Lawyers on Professor Layton Developer

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Sega Sets Its Lawyers on Professor Layton Developer

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Sega and Level-5 are set to duke it out in court over touchscreen gaming patents.

According to Yomiuri Online, Sega is suing Professor Layton developer, Level-5, over its use of touchscreen mechanics in popular, Japanese football series, Inazuma Eleven. The original news piece and the Kotaku translation are kind of vague on exactly what the patents being disputed entail, but they're described as "a mechanic that allows players to move characters via their finger or touch pen." NeoGaf user, RyanDG, managed to dig up one the actual patents, which refers specifically to touchscreen control in football games, though apparently Sega has suggested it can use the patents to cover any genre.

Inazuma Eleven or Lightning Eleven is a role-playing soccer game that started on the DS back in 2008. Despite the franchise's huge success in Japan, none of the games have made it to the states. The first game in the series received a UK release in 2011, some three years after it hit Japanese shelves.

Sega is calling for a halt on sales of all eight games in the Inazuma series, as well as a hefty 900 million (roughly US$11 million) in damages. Level-5 intends to fight the lawsuit, and is currently preparing a rebuttal. Opening arguments for the case were heard on December 7th.

Source: Kotaku

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Next up, Sega sues Rayman's developers for using the X button to jump.

"a mechanic that allows players to move characters via their finger or touch pen."

And this is why patent law needs to be torn down and started again, because this right here.... is batshit crazy.

Level-5's opening arguments really should go something along the lines of "that's stupid and you're stupid.*"

*not addressed to anyone on the forum, just in case that wasn't clear

Seems Sega Japan has fired all its developers and hired on more Lawyers ...

Closing fan channels for the popular Shining series, going as far as to get channels taken offline for merely having some old Shining material.
Now chasing a developer over a touch screen control mechanic... surely you cant patent control mechanics used on a gaming device, what happens if the button patent owner decides to cash in on retrospectively...

... who was the first to use a gamepad to move characters, and buttons to do actions ?

Sega Japan , leaving the games industry and moving onto patent trolling.

It seems that when companies feel like pulling some dick moves, they do so in spurts.

Man, that was awful phrasing...
...
..
.
I'm keeping it.

How in the bloody fuck did they get the patent for that, hell even Apple got bitch smacked for trying it.
Seems Sega just went all out batshit and the trolling wave goes on.

Has SEGA Japan gone a bit mad recently?

Yesterday they started a DMCA campaign on youtube channels seemingly to purge all reference to the Shining series from unofficial sources.

Mr.K.:
How in the bloody fuck did they get the patent for that, hell even Apple got bitch smacked for trying it.
Seems Sega just went all out batshit and the trolling wave goes on.

Yea, but they bring us such hilarious moments like when apple sued a Mexican company because they were named ifone for trademark infringement without doing their research. Ifone was trademarked long before the iphone name brand was and now they owe a ton of money and cant sell iphone marked items in Mexico. pure win.

Wait, didn't a lot of DS games use this in some fashion? I'm hoping the ruling here is: "Why the hell did the patent office let you do this?"

gigastar:
Has SEGA Japan gone a bit mad recently?

Yesterday they started a DMCA campaign on youtube channels seemingly to purge all reference to the Shining series from unofficial sources.

Wrong, it's been going on for the past few weeks. And the joke's kinda on them, TotalBiscuit's actually boycotting all things Sega on his channel now, in protest. His take is that they're trying to kill off the old games so people can focus on the new ones.

Proof - https://twitter.com/Totalbiscuit/status/275736690704924674

How can they patent a mechanic that's part of the handheld itself? That'd be like for example EA trying to sue Criterion Games over a patent that describes "having a mechanic that allows a character to move around with a control stick."

Next up, the makers of Pong sue Sega for having a "game" that uses a "screen" and a "control".

Sega is insane! That's like Activition sueing Epic Games's Bulletstorm due to "having a mechanic that allows the character to shoot his/her gun with the "R" Button.

I can think of dozens of DS games that use touch screen controls to move...

Anyway, I hope this backfires and costs Sega millions. The company has been slowly dieing for the past decade. It's time to stick a fork in it.

Wonder if they're gonna try and sue Nintendo for doing the same thing with the DS Zelda games?

EDIT: I missed a word...

If anyone would have that patent, I'd think it would be the hardware designer, as "moving the character with the touchscreen" is pretty much the whole reason for the DS to exist. Given what a bad precedent this could set, look for Nintendo to explain to Sega that if they EVER want to put games on their system again they'd better back off a bit. I can't think of a patent more chilling for DS game design.

First the dmca rampage, now this lawsuit...
I think it's official; Sega has gone completely insane.

Sega of Japan seems to have lost all of their brain cells recently. First the Shining Force take down, which they still have answered for which makes them look bad, and now this. It seems that companies are getting even stupider with each passing day, what is going on here? Is there a need to hire idiots for your PR team or something?

ScrabbitRabbit:
Wonder if they're try and sue Nintendo for doing the same thing with the DS Zelda games?

They'd be even stupider to go after Nintendo for that. Nintendo usually always wins their lawsuits, only a handful I can think of when they actually lost, and they have access to way better lawyers. This is honestly why patent laws need to be redone because of idiotic actions being taken.

This is it, sega killed their image and any past respect by picking on a company that actually makes GOOD games. Sega should just go die in a corner quietely.

Soviet Heavy:
-

Your avatar perfectly sums up my feelings about what Sega is doing here.

Patent law needs to die -- no, scratch that, IP law, period. Just torch the entire set of books. They're not doing anyone any good at this point, and they're doing a hell of a lot of damage.

ScrabbitRabbit:
Wonder if they're gonna try and sue Nintendo for doing the same thing with the DS Zelda games?

EDIT: I missed a word...

Was about to say this exact same thing, and Sega probably would of too!

Had it not been the fact that Sega now has to rely on the big three to even sustain whats left of its fetid, broken shell! If they even tapped Nintendo and asked about this, within 3 hours an article would be up detailing that Sega was bought by Nintendo for a yen and some string, then 5 seconds after that another article detailing that Sega is now shut down and Nintendo owns all their IP!

Which... honestly, isn't too bad I would say.

Pathetic and idiotic. Inazuma is incredibly popular, there's no better way to alienate yourselves from videogame fans.

It all comes down to the specifics. To be honest SEGA likely has a legitimate point if they pioneered a lot of this touch screen technology and had a patent accepted on it. That said, it probably comes down to specific code being used for this game, and the way the effect is being acheived, rather than any claims to the tech in of itself. We're missing details.

People tend to be very protective of game engines and code, this applies to PNP RPGs and such as well. The bottom line is that one of the reasons why you don't see games combining the best features of everything, is because the guys creating a lot of those effects and features own their code and engine and other people can't use it without their permission and doubtlessly paying a bunch of royalties. This is incidently why certain engines that worked really, really, well like say the old "Infinity Engine" that spawned "Torment", "Baldur's Gate", and "Icewind Dale" was used for so many games for example, it was simply a great way to make games and while the technology might be aging the playstyle and the engine itself holds up fairly well today.

At any rate, if the details were forthcoming I'd imagine the bottom line is pretty much going to be less about using the touch screen as touch screens are used, but about the code and engine. Beneath the obvious the game is probably very similar, or identical to, code for games produced by SEGA. You take someone's game engine (copy theuir code) and simply put new graphics and writing on top of it, and it tends to slot them off. That's my guess as to what the gist of the accusation actually is.

SEGA is starting to turn into that spiteful ex that lashes out at everything and everyone that was once even remotely close to it, then moves on to random people who get in the way later on.

Therumancer:
At any rate, if the details were forthcoming I'd imagine the bottom line is pretty much going to be less about using the touch screen as touch screens are used, but about the code and engine. Beneath the obvious the game is probably very similar, or identical to, code for games produced by SEGA. You take someone's game engine (copy theuir code) and simply put new graphics and writing on top of it, and it tends to slot them off. That's my guess as to what the gist of the accusation actually is.

Incorrect, You're describing a Copyright issue. This is a Patent Issue. Patents are used to protect concepts and inventions from being reinvented or reconceptualized by others. Copyright is used to protect the code itself.

Sega is attempting to establish precedent. If anything, they want to establish that the patent has value. I'd bet Sumitomo Corp is looking to sell off even more of Sega. Their commercial hocking of Sonic to Progressive was out of left field, but they clearly wanted the money. The attacks on Shining references is probably related to them wanting to find a buyer/renter for the IP as well.

In fact, a lot of the weird Sonic marketing matches up to Sumitomo Corp buying CSK who owns Sega.

sega are you getting desperate because your stupid hog isnt making money to feed you?
how about the blue mechanical man with a gun as a hand, that you are neglecting?

I honestly don't get it. It seems incredibly weird that you are even allowed to patent such things as control schemes in videogames. I mean, what if, say, John Carmack patented the concept of first person view and charged insane piles of cash for the right to use it? This kind of bullshit only leads to stagnation in the long run. If in a couple of years everyone will be suing each other over gameplay mechanics and control schemes, then it won't end well for the industry.

rhizhim:
sega are you getting desperate because your stupid hog isnt making money to feed you?
how about the blue mechanical man with a gun as a hand, that you are neglecting?

That's up Capcom.
For megaman that is

I think it's time that I pull out my "press Button to perform action" patent. I will sue the entire world and be rich!

You in these forums! Stop typing! You are infringing on my patents!!!

/sarcasm end

I think we need to create a law where if you patent air or anything in that category you are automatically declared bankrupt and all your stocks are sold off to people who know how to make money properly.

I wonder if anyone has patented moving one's eyebrows to communicate emotions?

In all seriousness, these patents are getting ridiculous. Why don't you just patent every imaginable control scheme using the conventional buttons? I'm sure patenting R1 for fire would make a tidy sum.

Level-5 only has to point out how other games also use this control scheme and ask why Sega hasn't sued them as well. Zelda and Starfox being two of the biggest Nintendo examples and I'm sure you can find other developers that used the same controls. Sadly I can't think of any others right now. Level-5 can basically get some free money from Sega if they win the counter-lawsuit for legal fees.

snekadid:
"a mechanic that allows players to move characters via their finger or touch pen."

And this is why patent law needs to be torn down and started again, because this right here.... is batshit crazy.

Neronium:
This is honestly why patent laws need to be redone because of idiotic actions being taken.

While I know nothing about Japanese Patent Laws, in the US (where most of the previous stuff you guys are referencing takes place), there actually is something known as FRAND policy that basically says that something that is a universal innovation cannot be patented under traditional terms, the only way they're allowed is under, Fair, Reasonable, And Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) rules that make it easy for everyone. Everyone who's into computer history or was alive at the time should remember that the first Windows Operating System the windows could not cascade/overlap even one pixel due to patents that apple owned, until judges threw it out because overlapping windows is a universally beneficial innovation that all should have fair access to.

Assuming Japan has any similar policy, this would be why Take 5 is so confidant about this; they know that SEGA's patents are not fair and are unreasonable. If this was in US court Take 5 would be winning this hands-down.

There may be plenty of examples of patent law needing to be reformed, but this (someone simply announcing taking someone else to court) does not indicate a broken system. In fact, the ability to take someone to court indicates a well-functioning system. Don't make rash statements "THIS PROVES THAT THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN AND NEEDS TO BE DESTORYED!!11!" until the outcome has been announced, otherwise, if the system works in our favor, you wind up looking like a complete asshat.

Fucking hell, Sega. I hope that you also patended QTE's.

You know.. I used to like SEGA, even though they had terrible luck at a lot of things. They made excellent arcade games, and I have fond memories of both the Genesis and Master System. To see them stooping to something as inane as this.. it's just sad.

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