Articles Posted in Video Games

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This video blog series features legal insights and strategies for social media and game companies, presented by Jim Gatto, leader of Pillsbury’s Social Media & Games team. This four part video series brings a fresh perspective on intellectual property in social media, social and online gaming, gamification, virtual currency, gamblification and more.

Watch the video here:

Thank you for watching the video. For a copy of the transcript, click here.

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MP900449113.JPG A weekly wrap up of interesting news about virtual worlds, virtual goods and other social media.

 

 

 

What’s the Matter With Zynga?
This was supposed to be a story about a guy building a highly anticipated mobile game. Instead, it’s a story about a multi-billion-dollar Internet company that is almost certainly headed for disaster.

Video game maker drops gun makers, not their guns
In the midst of the bitter national debate on gun violence, gun manufacturers and videogame makers are delicately navigating one of the more peculiar relationships in American business.

Atari Asks For More Time To Assemble Asset Sale
Atari Inc. sought an extra 90 days to put together a Chapter 11 plan without the threat of rival plans being submitted, saying it needs more time to put together a sale of its well-known brands and intellectual property.

Nintendo Scores Fed. Circ. Win In Wii Controller IP Row
The Federal Circuit Monday that Nintendo Co. Ltd.’s imported Wii video system did not infringe Motiva LLC’s wireless controller patents, saying Motiva’s failure to commercialize its patented technology had nothing to do with Nintendo’s subsequent presence in the market.

High Court Seeks SG’s Opinion in ‘Rock Band’ IP Row
The U.S. Supreme Court asked the Obama administration to weigh in on whether the Federal Circuit applied too inflexible a standard when it reversed a finding of inequitable conduct against a patent holder suing Electronics Arts Inc. and others over the “Rock Band” video game.

Homeland Security cuts off Dwolla bitcoin transfers
Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirms an “ongoing investigation” that led to Dwolla cutting off bitcoin transfers to Mt. Gox.

 

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VGBA.pngSean F. Kane will be a featured panelist at the upcoming Video Game Bar Association’s inaugural Game Business & Legal Affairs conference. The conference will provide an in-depth analysis of the prevalent and pertinent legal and business issues within the video game industry.

Sean will be serving as a panelist during the “Adventures in Finance” session which will take place on Tuesday, May 21st at 9:00am.  Working capital drives development, and this panel looks at the finance landscape, including new trends and legal details for crowdfunding, raising venture capital, structure of exits, and where tax credits for development and research can be maximized across an organization.

The panel will include the following:

MODERATOR

Steve Goldstein, Chair, Interactive Entertainment and Video Games Practice at Stubbs Alderton & Markiles

 

PANELISTS

Justin Bailey, VP of Business Development at Double Fine Productions

Sean F. Kane, Attorney at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

Mark Stevens, Partner at Fenwick & West

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MP900449113.JPG  A weekly wrap up of interesting news about virtual worlds, virtual goods and other social media.

 

Kabam Hits Profitability in 2012 on Revenue of $180 Million
Kabam doesn’t have to report earnings since it’s privately held, but that didn’t stop it from saying today that it was profitable last year on gross revenue of $180 million.

Maryland attorney general launches Internet Privacy Unit
The Maryland attorney general’s office on Monday launched a new Internet Privacy Unit designed to address the problem of privacy in the Internet age and to update “gaps” in companies’ online privacy policies.

iOS games earn 3.5 times the revenue of Android games in Q4
Even though Android app revenue grew much faster in the last quarter of 2012 than iOS app revenue, iOS apps still earned over three and a half times the amount that Android apps brought in, according to App Annie’s Index.

Axl Rose’s ‘Guitar Hero’ Suit Too Late, Judge Rules
A California judge Thursday tentatively dismissed the remainder of Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose’s $20 million lawsuit accusing Activision Blizzard Inc. of tricking him into licensing a song for the video game “Guitar Hero III,” ruling that Rose’s claims were time-barred.

Scratch-Off Maker Drops $1.5B For Video Gaming Co.
Instant lottery leader Scientific Games Corp. has inked a $1.5 billion deal to combine its scratch-off and electronic gaming empire with WMS Industries Inc.’s video gambling operation, the buyer announced on Thursday.

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Binary world A weekly wrap up of interesting news about virtual worlds, virtual goods and other social media.

 

Social Casino Games Market Now Worth $1.6 Billion
The social gaming market is moving fast, as more companies take advantage of the growing online phenomenon. According to a new study by internet games research firm SuperData, the global social casino games market will reach $1.6bn in 2012 and grow to $2.4bn by 2015.

Nintendo’s Wii, 3DS Targeted in Texas Patent Suit
Nintendo Co. Ltd. was sued Friday by a Texas company that claims the Japanese-gaming giant’s Wii and 3DS gaming systems infringe one of its patents.

USPTO Head Defends Software Patents Amid Smartphone Wars
Patents on software are vital to the American economy and calls to abolish them are wrong, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director David Kappos said in a speech Tuesday that also belittled claims that the smartphone wars show the patent system is broken.

Buy Virtual Goods in Zynga Games, Give Non-Virtual Money to Charity
Buying a $1 virtual horse for your virtual farm in FarmVille or a $15 tower for your castle in CastleVille might go farther than you think for the next couple of weeks. Those virtual goods are being turned into tangible cash — cash that Zynga will be donating to Toys for Tots.

 

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Binary world A weekly wrap up of interesting news about virtual worlds, virtual goods and other social media.

 

 

Beyonce Still Can’t Nix Video Game Suit, Appeals Court Says
A New York intermediate appeals court on Thursday affirmed a lower court ruling that pop singer Beyonce could not nix a suit alleging she violated a contract by abruptly pulling the plug on a multimillion-dollar video game development deal.

Video Game Co.’s Award Doubled To Over $9M In IP Battle
A North Carolina federal judge on Wednesday more than doubled a $4.5 million jury award Epic Games Inc. won against another video game developer, finding Silicon Knights Inc. deliberately copied code for Epic’s game engine and then initiated “a prolonged coverup.”

Consumers find social media increasingly trustworthy
In line with ING’s ambition to be at the forefront of developments in social media, ING is today presenting the study ‘Impact of social media 2012 (#SMING12)’ based on a survey among 1,500 Dutch consumers. The survey shows that consumers find social media increasingly trustworthy. 65% said they find the information posted on online media to be trustworthy. 40% of consumers find posts made on social media to be trustworthy.

HoneyBaked Granted Social Media Discovery in EEOC Suit
A magistrate judge in Colorado has granted HoneyBaked Ham Co.’s request for discovery of social media accounts, text messages and emails of a class of women in the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s’ sexual harassment suit against the company.

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Binary world  A weekly wrap up of interesting news about virtual worlds, virtual goods and other social media.

 

 

Video game tax break makes Quebec an industry hub
Sixteen years after Quebec’s government made a conscious decision to make the province a hub for multimedia firms and put up the money to stoke their growth, the effort has spawned a thriving industry of about 50 companies publishing video games and 30 others making the tools that support them. Total employment in the sector tops 8,000 workers.

Zynga Claims Ex-Staff Member Took Trade Secrets to Rival
Online game developer Zynga Inc. on Friday went after a former manager in California court, accusing its onetime employee of breaching a contract by defecting to a competitor with valuable trade secrets concerning Zynga’s product line and business strategies.

Beyonce’s Deadline Claim Attacked in Video Game Suit
Pop singer Beyonce can’t disavow a multimillion-dollar video game development contract because she kept negotiating long past the cutoff deadline she cited as her reason for pulling out of the deal, the developer’s attorney told a New York state appeals court Wednesday.

NJ Moves Ahead With Sports Betting Law Despite Legal Battle
Forging ahead with legalized sports betting despite a lawsuit brought by professional sports leagues and the NCAA, New Jersey said Monday that it would begin accepting applications from racetracks and Atlantic City casinos to offer such gambling.

Zynga revs up mobile ads with Honda campaign
The “It Starts With You” advertising promo will offer in-game rewards to Words With Friends and Scramble With Friends players.

Investors Steering Dollars Away From Social Games Ever Since Zynga’s IPO
Zynga’s public offering 10 months ago marks the peak for social gaming investments, with venture capital moving sharply away from the sector ever since.

Fashion Industry Puts On Its Game Face
As fashion houses are presented with the ever-challenging goal of achieving and maintaining brand recognition, many are now attempting to engage consumers in both the real and virtual worlds. Gaming represents one nontraditional avenue that has undergone recent growth, as brands find value in connecting with existing and potential consumers through interactive online means.

 

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Binary world  A weekly wrap up of interesting news about virtual worlds, virtual goods and other social media.

 

 

 

PokerStars Pays $731M, Acquires Full Tilt In DOJ Settlement
PokerStars will pay a total of $731 million and absorb fellow online gaming site Full Tilt Poker in order to settle the government’s wide-ranging fraud allegations against the poker site, the company said on Tuesday.

FSU focuses on social media, university updates its policies
Florida State administrators want to make sure their student-athletes understand the importance of protecting their brand and the university’s image each time they click into a social-networking page.

UK to Start Legally Enforcing Video Game Ratings
Europe’s PEGI rating system this week became the single system for video game ratings in the United Kingdom. The change means customers shopping for video games in the UK will no longer see the government’s BBFC ratings on titles. Instead, all games will carry a PEGI (Pan-European Game Information) rating designed to help consumers make informed decisions about which games they’re buying.

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Binary world A weekly wrap up of interesting news about virtual worlds, virtual goods and other social media.

 

 

Twitter Drops LinkedIn Partnership

LinkedIn announced via a blog post on Friday that Twitter would no longer be partnering with the business-networking site to sync updates from one site to the other. This ends a partnership that began in 2009. LinkedIn users can still create updates on the site and click a button to share to Twitter as well, but the reverse is no longer possible.

Two Major Gaming Deals Just Went Down

Two pretty major announcements hit the gaming press Friday. And they have the potential to pretty much completely change the gaming industry. First off, Vivendi is selling off its majority stake in Activision Blizzard. It’s unlikely they’re going to find anybody to just buy the whole thing: AB is valued at $13 billion, and there’s a very, very short list of companies who could afford it and who would be interested.

What Sony’s $380M purchase of Gaikai means for future gaming hardware

Sony Computer Entertainment has been known for its iconic PlayStation hardware, including the PS3 console the PlayStation Portable, now called Vita. But does its future lie in proprietary hardware, or in a delivery platform that brings PlayStation games to any connected device? That’s one possible implication of a $380 million acquisition of Gaikai, a Silicon Valley provider of gaming delivered through the cloud.

Health-care apps for smartphones pit FDA against tech industry

Three tries. More than two years. And roughly $150,000. That’s what it took for MIM Software to get the Food and Drug Administration’s clearance for a smartphone application that physicians can use to view MRIs and other medical images.

Xbox Class Sues Microsoft For Blocking Online Access

A California Xbox video game system owner filed a class action in Washington federal court on Friday accusingMicrosoft Corp. of breaching contracts with consumers by blocking access to its Xbox Live online service without issuing refunds for their subscriptions, purchases and credits.

Usher Wants a Virtual You to Dance at His Concert

Pop star Usher is looking for new backup dancers — virtual ones — for his upcoming London concert, which will be live-streamed June 11 from Hammersmith Apollo. Starting Friday, fans can create digital avatars of themselves to win the chance of becoming a choreographed dance square during Usher’s performance of “Scream.” American Express teases the interactive element in the above video, shared first with Mashable.

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MC900250090.jpgA federal court recently found copyright infringement based on a developers copying of aspects of the popular Tetris game, even though the code itself was not copied. This ruling confirms that IP can be used to effectively prevent certain cloning practices that are prevalent with online games. While this case focused on copyright infringement, a passing note by the court highlights how patents can be instrumental to a comprehensive IP strategy as well.

In this case, Tetris sued Xio Interactive Inc. over its game Mino. Mino is a falling block game which incorporates game-play rules similar to Tetris, as well as utilizing a similar playing area and geometric block combinations. In its opinion, the court stated that game developers are free to use others’ ideas, but not the expression of those ideas. The court noted that the idea-expression dichotomy in the video game world is “simple to state- copyright will not protect an idea, only its expression – but difficult to apply, especially in the context of computer programs.”

The court summarized the law by stating generally that game mechanics and rules are not entitled to copyright protection, but courts have found expressive elements copyrightable, including game labels, design of game boards, playing cards and graphical works. Significantly however, the court noted that game mechanics and other functional game features can be patented.

The court determined that Xio did more than just incorporate Tetris‘ underlying rules in Mino. In looking at the similarity of the look and feel of the two games, the court stated that “[t]here is such similarity between the visual expression of Tetris and Mino that it is akin to literal copying” regardless of the fact that Xio did not actually copy the underlying Tetris code. For a more detailed discussion of this case, please see our client alert.

If you are a game developer and want to maximize your ability to shut down clones, it is critical to have a comprehensive IP strategy that incorporates both patents and copyrights. If you rely just on copyright, a more skillful game cloner can change the expressive elements enough to avoid copyright infringement. But if you patent core mechanics of your novel game, you can prevent others from copying that functionality regardless of how different they make the expressive elements.

For more information on IP protection for games, see IP Protection for Games.