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.