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If you've ever been to Queen Mary's excellent More than Just a Game events, you have probably heard of the new Interactive Entertainment Law Review journal launched by Profs. Dimita, Mimler, and Festinger. This new peer-reviewed journal offers analysis of legal issues arising from interactive entertainment, video games, virtual/augmented/mixed realities, social media, and all related and emergent forms of digital interactive entertainment. Ross and I serve as members of the Editorial Board, along with many others who are well-known in the video game legal community.

The first issue went live just the other day and we are very happy to report that it includes our new article on copyright issues raised by game input streaming and replays, titled "The Key to Key Presses: eSports Game Input Streaming and Copyright Protection."  In the article, Kirk and I explore whether and how copyright protection applies to recorded game inputs (e.g. mouse clicks and key presses in replay files), and who owns the copyright in recorded game play.  Here's the full abstract:
The eSports industry has exploded, in no small part due to the ease with which exciting matches may be watched. Many modern video games stream game user inputs to viewers, rather than bandwidth-intensive video. These game input streams can be used by the viewers’ game clients to perfectly reproduce a match in real-time. In World Chess U.S. v. Chessgames Services, a U.S. District Court held that allegedly pilfered chess game moves, as facts, were neither subject to copyright protection nor eligible for ‘hot news’ misappropriation. But might video game input streams (as facts, per the World Chess court) nonetheless be eligible for copyright protection to the extent that the input data corresponds to a copyright-eligible game performance? After all, input streams are significantly more granular and exacting than mere chess game moves: they capture millisecond-by-millisecond input and effectuate perfect reproducibility of gameplay, rather than a mere description thereof. This article explores the copyright issues under U.S. law presented by live streaming of video game inputs and proposes that video game input streams are, to the extent that they are usable to perfectly generate a faithful recreation of a gameplay performance, copyright-eligible and owned by the player of the game.
While these base-line rights are usually overruled by developer EULAs, the question of copyright ownership in replays may be particularly important in disputes between third party leagues.  In the past year, we've seen hints of this issue beginning to flare up in the form of the ESL/Valve/Twitch controversy back in January.  Allowing third party leagues to exercise copyright over their tournament game play (through agreement with the players) may foster further growth in the eSports community.

Check out the journal here and our full article here (free access).
Groove Digital, Inc. v. King.com, LTD. et al.,
United States District Court for the District of Delaware,
1-18-cv-00836, filed 06/04/2018
 
 
On June 4, 2018, Groove Digital filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Delaware alleging King.com infringed upon U.S. Pat. No. 9,454,762 (the '762 Patent), titled "System and Method for Delivery of Content to a Network Device." Groove Digital claims the '762 Patent relates to push notifications for mobile apps. In the Complaint, King's game, Candy Crush Saga, infringes upon the '762 Patent.

Claim 1 of the '762 Patent reads:
A system for delivering information to a networked device of a user, the system comprising:

a microprocessor running a software application for delivering an applet application to the networked device and managing the delivery of the applet application to the networked device, wherein the applet application passively deploys one or more applets at a time of deployment,

wherein the applet application provides for delivery of content to the networked device and a display of the content in a predetermined portion of a user display that is less than an entire display of the networked device, by the one or more applet, wherein the one or more applet is configured to deploy at least one of independent of or in conjunction with an internet browser window, wherein an internet browser is configured to deploy subsequent to deployment of the one or more applets based on at least one action or inaction of the user, wherein at least one of the applets is configured to become idle upon deployment of the internet browser, and wherein the deployment of the one or more applets is such that at the time of deployment of the one or more applets the user can continue to operate the networked device in a state prior to the deployment of the one or more applets;

a first database coupled to the microprocessor and storing a first set of information relating to the user; and

a second database coupled to the microprocessor and including a second set of information for comparison to the first set of information,

wherein the microprocessor compares the first set of information to the second set of information to determine whether the content should be transmitted to the networked device for display by the one or more applets. ('762 patent, col. 14, lines 9-43).

The '762 Patent has an interesting prosecution history. Samuel Gaidemak and Paul Chacko filed the '762 Patent on March 17, 2006, but the USPTO did not issue the patent until September 27, 2016. During those ten years, the PTO issued eleven office actions against the '762 Patent. On average a patent will face three or four office actions. The more office actions a patent faces, the more prosecution history estoppel the patent acquires, which is used to narrow the patent's claims and restrict the owner's use of the doctrine of equivalents. Groove Digital is asserting the doctrine of equivalents in addition to allegations of literal infringement. King has not yet filed an Answer in response to the Complaint.

Groove Digital is also suing United Bank for infringing the '762 Patent. Normally, we do not report on non-video game related case, but this is the only other lawsuit in which the '762 Patent is asserted. Groove Digital filed the lawsuit against United Bank on December 1, 2017, in the Eastern District of Virginia. The Complaint in that lawsuit alleges that United Bank's mobile banking app infringes the '762 Patent by using push notifications, and the Complaint filed against United Bank is very similar to the Complaint filed against King. United Bank has only filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. These lawsuits against United Bank and King could be the start of Groove Digital suing every mobile app developer that uses push notifications, so it will be interesting to see if Apple takes notice (in view of the integrated push notification technology built into iOS).

We will continue to follow Groove Digital's lawsuit against King and provide updates when available.
Call me old school, but Halo 2 is still my favorite multiplayer first-person shooter.  It was the most balanced FPS game I've ever played, and I still get excited with each new release.  The Halo franchise is one of those franchises that makes it in my top 10 list for all time best games (what are the other 9?  Well, there's the Myst franchise (including Obduction), but I'm otherwise still working on it).

Microsoft released a teaser video for Halo Infinite today, and it looks awesome. This will probably give me the push I needed to upgrade from my Xbox One to the newer Xbox One X. It wouldn't be the first time I've bought new hardware just to play a new game (Quake and America's Army also did that trick).

Check it out!

-Ross

On May 22, 2018, Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC (Sony) filed a petition for Inter Partes Review of U.S. Patent 8,206,218 (the '218 Patent), owned by Techno View IP. The '218 Patent is related to a method for displaying stereoscopic images based on how the right-eye and left-eye view the same object. Sony is alleging that the '218 Patent is invalid because it is obvious as a result of prior art.
 
 
Claim 1 of the ’218 Patent reads:
1. A method in a videogame system for displaying three-dimensional images, comprising the computer implemented steps of:

providing left and right backbuffers;

calculating first position coordinates of a first eye view;

storing a first eye view image captured virtually from the calculated first position coordinates of the first eye view of an object in the videogame into the left backbuffer;

determining a second eye view image of the object captured virtually from the calculated second position coordinates of the second eye view;

storing the second eye view image in the right backbuffer; and

displaying the first eye view image and the second eye view image to the user to provide a three dimensional perspective of the object from the videogame system to the user. ('218 patent, col. 13, lines 44-64).
The '218 Patent is related to U.S. Patent 7,666,096 (the '096 Patent), also owned by Techno View and also subject to an IPR petitioned by Sony. Both the '218 and '096 Patents are at the center of a lawsuit Techno View filed against Sony in the Central District of California, in which Techno View alleges that Sony's PlayStation VR infringes Techno View's patents. Sony is using the IPRs to challenge the validity of the allegedly infringed patents. Techno View is also suing Oculus VR claiming their VR system infringes the '218 and '096 Patents. Oculus was not part of the IPR petitions filed by Sony.

This is the third IPR petition Sony has filed this year relating to stereoscopic images. For background on the previous two IPR petitions click here and here.
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