U.S. Patent No. 7,589,742: Random map generation in a strategy video game
Issued Sep. 15, 2009, to Microsoft


The ‘742 patent seeks to make video games more interested by describing a random map generation system. The invention randomly generates a map by assigning values to a number of different elements that may appear on the map (hills, water, weapons, etc.). The generator analyzes the weights of objects, the character in play, and the situation in order to make the fairest map possible. The invention seeks to make the game play fun for the user by changing the landscape, but it is programmed to not make unfair maps which would make the playing difficult for the player’s character.


The generation of a random map for use in a video game may involve a random value generation function, with weighted texture and/or object values to control whether certain textures and/or objects are placed at certain locations on the map. Some locations may have no objects, or may have rivers or cliffs added. Additionally, equitable object placement for multiple players may be accomplished using object constraints. Closest point determination may be used for certain object types, while other objects may have constraints relaxed if initial placement efforts are unsuccessful. As a further addition, physical modeling of a humanoid form may be accomplished using a three-part model, where angles on the model drive the display of animation frames for the object.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A computer-implemented method of generating a random map at a computing system having a processor and memory, comprising the steps of the computing system performing the following: the computing system defining a plurality of elements to be distributed across a plurality of tiles on a map to be generated; the computing system assigning a plurality of weight values to said plurality of elements; the computing system using a random value function to generate a value for each of said plurality of tiles; the computing system comparing said generated value with one or more of said assigned weight values to select one of said elements for one of said tiles; and the computing system adding said selected element, comprising a first object, to said one of said tiles in the map by at least performing the following: defining one or more placement constraints for a first object to be placed on a the map, said constraints identifying an object type, and indicating a distance value to be used in placing said first object if another object of said identified object type is already placed on said map; proposing a location on said map for said first object; determining whether said proposed location satisfies said one or more constraints; and if said proposed location does not satisfy said constraints, then finding a second location on said map for said first object, wherein said second location is found based on said proposed location.

Quintal Research Group, Inc. v. Nintendo of America, Inc.
Case No. 4:13-cv-00888
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Filed February 27, 2013; Terminated July 17, 2015

Plaintiff Quintal Research Group, Inc. filed suit against Defendants Nintendo of America, Inc. and Nintendo Company Ltd. for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,425,944. The ‘944 patent, entitled “Computerized Information Retrieval System,” relates to a portable handheld communication device for rapid retrieval of computerized information. The device connects with network computer consoles to optimize data input and output using thumb controls instead of a keyboard.

Quintal alleged that the location of the thumb-activated controls on Nintendo’s Game Boy handheld gaming device infringed the ‘944 patent.

Nintendo argued in its Motion for Summary Judgment of Noninfringement that the “ordinary meaning of ‘symmetrically arranged’ is ‘mirror image,’ such that the two thumb controls specified in Claims 1 and 9 must correspond in size, shape, and position on each side of the display screen of the handheld deck.” Claims 1 and 9 of the ‘944 patent teach the use of two thumb controls that are symmetrically arranged on each side of the display screen. The court found that one skilled in the art would understand the “symmetrically arranged” language in ‘944 patent to mean that the thumb controls are mirror images of one another.

On July 17, 2015, this case was terminated with the court’s granting of the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment of Noninfringement. The court found that Nintendo's gaming devices did not infringe the '944 patent. The judge stated that the left and right buttons on Nintendo's Game Boy devices did not infringe the asserted patent because the buttons do not correspond in shape, size, or position on each side of the centerline of the display screen.

U.S. Patent No. 7,585,225: Video game apparatus for displaying information indicating boundary between fields
Issued Sep. 8, 2009, to Square Enix


The ‘225 patent describes a system where the environment of the game changes based on the player’s movement during the game. A player, when he looks around him in a game, sees the surrounding environment immediately surrounding his character. The invention calculates the distance between the player and the boundary to determine what display should be shown. Whenever his character reaches the boundary of what the character can see, the invention updates the map and a new section is loaded; this provides a seamless transition from scene to scene without the player having to wait while the new area is loaded.


When movement of a player character is instructed, a position and a direction of the player character after movement thereof are calculated. When the calculated position of the player character after movement thereof is in a moving-to area moved from a current area over a boundary therebetween, map data of a body of the area moved from the current area and map data of a boundary area including a part of the moving-to area are loaded into a RAM from a recording medium, and then the player character is positioned in the moving-to area to be displayed on a display screen. When the player character is positioned in the boundary area near the boundary, a boundary object is displayed at a predetermined position above the boundary in a virtual three-dimensional space.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A game apparatus that executes a game which progresses by moving a player character in a virtual three-dimensional space having a field including a first field and a second field provided therein, the second field communicating with the first field via a predetermined moving path, and displays a screen showing a status of the game on a display device, the game apparatus comprising: a map data fixed storage for storing first map data including graphic data of the entire first field and a partial area of the second field near the moving path, and second map data including graphic data of the entire second field; a movement input for inputting an instruction to move the player character in the virtual three-dimensional space according to a player operation; a mover for moving the player character in the virtual three-dimensional space having the first field and the second field according to the instruction input from the movement input; a high-speed storage, having a faster data reading speed than the map data fixed storage, comprising a character data area for storing character data comprising graphic data of the player character, a map data area for storing map data corresponding to a field that includes a position to which the player character has moved, and a boundary data area for storing boundary data including graphic data of a boundary object indicating a boundary position between the first field and the second field, the boundary object not constituting the field; a map data loader for retrieving the second map data from the map data fixed storage, and for storing the retrieved second map data as a substitute for the first map data having been stored so far when the player character is moved to the second field from the first field; a positional relationship determiner for determining a positional relationship between the boundary position between the first field and the second field and a position of the player character when the player character is positioned in the first field, the positional relationship determiner including a distance determiner for determining a distance between the position of the player character and the boundary position; a boundary object layout device for laying out the boundary object at the boundary position between the first field and the second field when the player character is determined to be positioned in a predetermined range set with the boundary position being a criterion, by the positional relationship determiner; a perspective transformer for performing perspective transformation of a range of the virtual three-dimensional space including the position of the player character, onto a virtual screen from a virtual camera to generate a two-dimensional image to be displayed on the display device based upon the map data stored in the map data area and the character data stored in the character data area, and additionally the boundary data stored in the boundary data area when the boundary object is laid out; and a display controller for displaying the two-dimensional image generated by the perspective transformer on the display device, wherein the boundary object layout device comprises a distance mode changer for changing a display mode of the boundary object laid out at the boundary position in accordance with the distance determined by the distance determiner, and wherein the distance mode changer changes a transparency of the boundary data so that the transparency becomes lower as the distance determined by the distance determiner becomes shorter.

Back in January we reported a new patent case filed by White Knuckle IP against Electronic Arts over updating sports video games based on real-life events during a season. The asserted patent was U.S. Pat. No. 8,529,350. That case was actually terminated and refiled as Utah District case no. 1-15-cv-00036 in February.

From our earlier report, the patent discusses how prior art games were fixed as of the day they were released. A real-life player's outstanding performance or a major trade taking place during the season would not be reflected until the next version of the game was released. The system described in the '350 patent purports to solve this problem by downloading updates to game attributes that are based on real-life changes in players, teams, and venues.

EA filed an inter partes review (IPR) request yesterday with the USPTO to invalidate the patent (IPR2015-01595). EA argues that the '350 patent should be limited to updates applied to stadium or field parameters based on arguments made by the patentee during prosecution. Moreover, EA argues that their own earlier games teach all the features claimed in the '350 patent. EA points to the 2001 iteration of their popular FIFA soccer games and the 2000 version of their Madden football games as teaching the updating features claimed in the '350 patent. Of note is that one of the references cited by EA is a Madden 2000 Updates Website which included a "Playoff Week 1 Update" file.

At this time, the IPR has only been filed with the USPTO. The Patent Trials and Appeals Board (PTAB) will consider whether to institute the IPR based on EA's arguments. If the PTAB institutes the IPR, EA and White Knuckle will fight it out at the USPTO rather than (or in addition to) the federal courthouse in Utah.

The full IPR petition can be found at

We will continue to watch this case for interesting developments.

U.S. Patent No. 6,748,326: Information processing apparatus and method for displaying weather data as a background for an electronic pet in a virtual space
Issued June 8, 2004, to Sony


The ‘326 patent describes a system where the weather of a real space is reflected on the weather of a virtual space. The invention allows a player with an internet connection to connect to a weather server and download the current weather forecast for the area and then place the actual weather into the game being played. Here, the game described is for a virtual pet game. Thus, whenever the player selects a current weather pattern the weather will then be downloaded to the game and the pet will experience the same real-time weather as the human controller. This allows the game to have a more life-like feel since the player and the animal will both experience the same weather pattern.


An information processing apparatus and method as well as a program storage medium wherein the weather of a real space is reflected on the weather of a virtual space. A plurality of personal computers can communicate data with a weather server over a display section. The weather server provides the look of the sky imaged by a video camera as weather information. Each of the personal computers displays, for example, when it is operating with an application for an electronic pet, a weather of a virtual space in which an electronic pet lives based on the weather information provided from the weather server.

Illustrative Claim:

1. An information processing method, comprising the steps of: requesting weather data regarding a desired district from an external apparatus; receiving the weather data and information corresponding to a time at which the weather data was requested regarding the desired district from the external apparatus; displaying the received weather data and the information corresponding to the time as a background for an electronic pet in a virtual space; displaying a command display section along with the electronic pet said command display section including commands a user may activate to control the electronic pet; displaying a weather setting button along with the electronic pet; and displaying a setting window when the weather setting button is selected said setting window including acquiring options for acquiring the weather data.

Archie Comic Publications Inc. v. Penders
United States District Court, Southern District of New York
Case No. 1:10-cv-08858, Filed November 23, 2010

This case was terminated on July 1, 2013.  All claims and counterclaims were dismissed with prejudice.  The parties came to a confidential settlement agreement during a mediation session.

Former independent contractor Ken Penders created scripts and artwork for the Sonic comic books, which Sega had licensed Archie Comics to create in 1992. Penders registered copyrights for the work he did for Archie Comics, and in 2010 he sent Archie Comics a letter alleging infringement of his copyrights. Following receipt of the letter, Archie Comics filed this suit against Penders to cancel his copyright registrations and to obtain declaratory judgment and other remedies for breach of contract.

Further details can be found in the original post here.

 Digital Reg of Texas, LLC v. Adobe Systems Incorporated et al.

U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Case No. 3:12-cv-01971-NC, Filed April 20, 2012

On December 22, 2014, this case was terminated in the Northern District of California. The jury rendered its verdict in favor of Defendant Adobe Systems, Incorporated finding no infringement. Judgment was also entered in favor of Adobe on its counterclaims for patent invalidity, finding that claims 1, 2, 4, and 13 of U.S. Patent No. 6,389,541 were invalid. Claims 32, 45, and 52 of U.S. Patent No. 6,751,670 were also found invalid. 

The suit was filed by Digital Reg of Texas, a subsidiary of DRM Technologies LLC against several business gaming companies including Electronic Arts Inc., Ubisoft Entertainment Inc., and Zynga Inc. Digital Reg alleged patent infringement of seven patents including the '541 and '670 patents for delivering electronic content for payment methods, storing downloaded computer games, and delivering digital content across devices. Digital Reg most recently sought royalties from EA and Adobe for the infringing patents.

All remaining claims and counterclaims were dismissed with prejudice as moot.

Plaintiff Digital Reg of Texas, LLC appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on January 14, 2015.  On March 9, 2015, the court granted in part and denied in part Adobe's motion for attorneys' fees.  On June 1, 2015, Defendant Adobe appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for the denial of the motion for attorneys' fees.

The original post with more details of the case can be found here.

Bandspeed, Inc. v. Sony Electronics Inc. et al.
United States District Court, Western District of Texas
Case No. 09-593, Filed August 7, 2009

This case was terminated on December 14, 2011, after the Court consolidated the case with Bandspeed, Inc. v. Acer, Inc., et al. and renumbered it Docket No. A-11-771-LY.

On March 14, 2012, the claims against Defendant Sony were dismissed with prejudice. Each party was to bear its own costs and fees.

The '771 case was terminated on May 12, 2014. The court dismissed and claims and counterclaims between Plaintiffs and various Defendants.

Bandspeed filed this suit against Sony, Nintendo of America, Inc., and Apple, Inc. for patent infringement of two its patents. The patents (7,027,418 and 7,570,614) relate generally to managing wireless communication channels using frequency hopping.

More details of the case can be found here.
Home Gambling Network et al. v. Piche et al.
Docket No. 2:05-cv-00610
United States District Court, District of Nevada, filed May 16, 2005

On September 30, 2013,  the Court issued an order granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment. On October 30, 2013, the Plaintiffs appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's order granting Defendants' motion for summary judgment on June 9, 2014.

In the judgment dated April 17, 2015, the District Court awarded Defendants Piche et al. $1.36 million in damages.

The Plaintiff Home Gambling Network originally filed sued alleging patent infringement involving online video games. The patent (U.S. Pat. No. 5,800,268) is directed to a Method Of Participating In A Live Casino Game From A Remote Location. Home Gambling filed the suit against 18 defendants, which each operate online gambling sites.

The original post of the case is here.

Bungie, Inc., the developer of the popular Destiny video game, recently filed three trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The first trademark is for the name "Eververse" and was filed on May 19, 2015. In addition to the name, the application also pertains to interactive video game software, digital books, comic books and graphic novels, instruction guides and the like. The second mark is a word mark entitled, "Eververse Trading Co." The final mark is for the below logo, also apparently in reference to Eververse.

It is interesting to note that the name Destiny is not mentioned in any of these trademark applications. However, there is speculation that these marks will be related to Destiny because there has been no mention of a new video game as of yet.

We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

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