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Member Since 17 Jul 2011
Offline Last Active Jul 12 2013 10:58 AM

#5076943 Patent trolls attacking small indie developers

Posted by on 11 July 2013 - 01:45 PM

Out of curiosity, do any of the new patent rules affect already granted patents, or do they only affect new patents?


The SHIELD ACT currently in debate in congress does not affect the patents themselves but rather the litigation over them.  The loser of the litigation would be required to pay attorney fees, which is currently not the case.  And since the trolls loose about 95% of the time it goes to trial they would have more at risk.  Companies feel much better about pressing the issue to trial if they their fees would get reimbursed.  It also requires the patent hold if they meet the troll criteria defined in the bill to put up a $50k bond prior to filing the lawsuit.  This to effectively shut them out of litigating against small targets in mass.  


Alas this bill will still be a few months from passing and won't affect suits already filed so their appears to be a mad rush by the trolls to get any suits filed before hand.

#5076941 Patent trolls attacking small indie developers

Posted by on 11 July 2013 - 01:41 PM

Free Software Foundation might be a good company to contact. They are most open-source supporters, but they are pro little-guy and against software patents in general and might be willing lend you a lawyer or give you some legal advice. There was also a small game-development law firm in the internet news a half-dozen months ago that was providing free or cheap legal assistance for studios - I don't remember the details though; anyone know who I'm talking about?.


Pubpat (Public Patent Foundation) is providing support against some other trolls going after app developers.  I've contacted them about this now troll, threatening game developers.  So far I know of 6 other small game developers who received threats of litigation from Treehouse over this patent.  I can only assume the real number is at least 10x that.

#5076687 Patent trolls attacking small indie developers

Posted by on 10 July 2013 - 01:51 PM

Yes, the patent would very clearly be ruled invalid, there's many problems with it in addition to decades of prior art.  The problem is the trolls know the cost/time it takes for someone to get it to court where it can be ruled invalid is huge.  So that's their leverage, it will cost you more to fight it than to simply give in and settle.  Even though they know full well the patent would get blown up at trial.

That's why they are trying to pick on smaller game developers.  They have even less resources at their disposal to fight, so make easy victims.

#5076456 Patent trolls attacking small indie developers

Posted by on 09 July 2013 - 05:29 PM

Well this past week I've encountered a completely new challenge or annoyance to game development, besides designing, building, promoting and marketing a game. The attack of the patent trolls...


Last Friday I discovered a legal packet from one Treehouse Avatar Technologies saying I was in violation of their patents and threatening litigation if I didn't submit to licensing terms. The patent itself is one of those patents that should never have been issued, but well, we've got a fucked up patent system. More or less is patents the storing of game character information in a database and displaying it in a user interface over a network. 


Treehouse also made waves by filing a lawsuit against Turbine the makers of the Lord of the Rings Online over this patent back in the fall and I can only assume is doing the same with any developer/publisher in the MMO industry. 


What is a head scratcher is how I'm even on their radar given my size. My only guess they are trying to shakedown some small game developers and intimidate them into licensing or settlement to rack up a few easy wins to fund going after the big guys.


In the past two days I've heard from at least three other small game developers that have received the same threat of litigation from Treehouse.  Pretty disgusted by the whole thing.  


I went public with the whole thing in hopes that other small game developers who might be intimidated by the letter and just roll over to their bullshit demands will come forward.






James Fudge, the editor of GamePolitics and part of the ECA is trying to identify other developers that have received these threats.  If you have you can contact him at james(at)theeca(dot)com