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On February 24, 2009, Square Enix settled another lawsuit. According to its press release, the lawsuit named at least four national wholesalers of unlicensed sword replicas and their principals that have infringed Square Enix's FINAL FANTASY® franchise of videogames and CG-animated film, specifically its copyright and trademark rights in the swords.

My personal favorite quote is where the defendants issued a statement as follows: "We regret having sold unauthorized replica merchandise based on the Final Fantasy franchise to our customers. We would not have begun importing and selling these swords if we knew that Square Enix would respond so aggressively to stop us. We will never make this mistake again."

WHAT?!?! They are actually admitting to the "I wouldn't have done it if I knew I would have been caught" defense?!?! So it's ok to infringe other's intellectual property rights as long as you're not caught? Great. Nice one. Way to fall on that sword you were selling. In any event, the consent judgment includes $600k payment to Square Enix, so yes, the infringers WILL think twice about doing this again.

In another press release dated Feb. 12, 2008, the lawsuit was noted to have been filed and was "a result of cooperation with the United States Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol, whose agents seized a crate of counterfeit replica swords." Nice to hear our DHS guys are on the job. Keep up the good work.

(Thanks to Tim Hsieh at Greenberg Traurig for bringing this to my attention.)
Well I finally got around to upgrading the blog to Google's new beta service, so we've updated the look and feel a little bit, while keeping the overall simple header theme. New features include the ability to filter posts by labels, better subscription options, and better integration of useful add-ons such as patent searching.

I apologize to anyone who was following the old atom feed, because I think its broken now. We will be updating other broken links as soon as possible, but you will need to resubscribe using the new subscription options.

Thanks for reading!
Harmonix and Viacom jointly filed suit in the District of Massachusetts against Konami for patent infringement. The lawsuit alleges Konami’s “ROCK REVOLUTION” video game infringes U.S. Pat. No., 7,459,624 entitled "Game controller simulating a musical instrument." The patent issued December 2, 2008 and consists of two independent claims, both of which are methods “for providing [a] realistic interaction by a player with a music-based video game using a game controller simulating a guitar.” The claims appear to relate to music-based video games that simulate a hammer-on or pull-off technique of playing a musical instrument. Specifically, claims 1 recites:

1. A method for providing realistic interaction by a player with a music-based video game using a game controller simulating a guitar and having a strum bar and a plurality of fret buttons, the method comprising: a) displaying to a player first target musical data associated with a musical composition; b) receiving first music performance input from the player comprising activation of a first one of a plurality of fret buttons and a strum bar; c) displaying to a player second target musical data associated with the musical composition, the second target musical data visually indicating to a player that the musical event represented by the second target musical data is amenable to a hammer-on technique; [and] d) receiving second music performance input from the player consisting essentially of activation of a second one of a plurality of fret buttons.

Claim 15, the other independent claim, is similar to claim 1, however, differs in regards to elements (c) and (d), which recite:

c) displaying to a player second target musical data associated with the musical composition, the second target musical data visually indicating to a player that the musical event represented by the second target musical data is amenable to a pull-off technique; [and] d) receiving second music performance input from the player consisting essentially of deactivation of one of a plurality of fret buttons.

The lawsuit is Harmonix Music Systems, Inc. et al. v. Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd et. al., Case No. 1:09-cv-10206-RWZ, U.S. District Court of Massachusetts. We will continue to monitor the lawsuit.
I don't normally post non-legal content, but this one is a good resource for budding video game designers: 70+ Open Courseware Links for Game Designers and Developers. Most of the resources appear to be links to MITs open course program, or other universities with similar offerings, but this is the first compilation of all such resources that I have seen in one place. Topics include Game Development, Arts & Media Studies, Theory & Thinking, Analysis, Storytelling, Interaction & Decisionmaking, Probability, Design, Programming & Tools, Practical Skills, Game Genres & Uses, and Issues. If anyone is looking to brush up on skills, this looks like a great place to start. When you build your game and need legal advice, give me a call. Good luck!
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