Published by LawTechie - April 3, 2012 - LawTechie

Video GamesGameSpot featured a very interesting article today that described a lesser-known aspect of many of our most popular games: Many popular games have patents on certain in-game mechanics.

For the intellectual property amateurs reading this, a quick note: A copyright is not the same as a patent. All software is copyrightable wherein the copyright protects the actual underlying code of the software as a literary work (yes, the Copyright Office considers syntax logic statements to be quite literary). Patents, on the other hand, protect ideas and the ideas behind most types of software are simply too obvious to be patentable. For example, Zuckerberg has a copyright on the software code behind, he cannot have a patent on the basic idea of a social networking website — hence all the other social networking websites like LinkedIn, MySpace, etc…

In any case, reading through GameSpot’s feature, I was pretty amazed at patents in what seem to me to be pretty obvious game mechanics (perhaps the Examiners at USPTO are not as much into gaming as this LawTechie)…


Final Fantasy X gives players more say in how their characters develop. To do that, the game introduces the Sphere Grid system, where players are placed on a giant map where each circle they visit grants the character a specific stat bonus or ability.


This patent covers Mass Effect’s dialog wheel interface, right down to splitting it into six sections and having the jerk decision always falling into one area, and the goody two-shoes response always in another.

Yes, they actually patented the dialogue wheel…

LawTechie is a blog focusing on trends in tech and digital media. Areas covered include intellectual property, cyberlaw, venture capital, transactions and litigation as they relate to the emerging sectors. The blog is edited by the firm's partner Tim Bukher with contributions from the firm's experts in their respective areas of law.


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