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Level-5 steps up to fight Sega patent lawsuit

By Mike Williams

Level-5 steps up to fight Sega patent lawsuit

Wed 12 Dec 2012 10:05pm GMT / 5:05pm EST / 2:05pm PST

Sega accuses Level-5 of patent infringement, Level-5 calls Sega a troll

Japanese news outlet Yomiuri Online (translated via Kotaku) reported yesterday that Sega has sued developer Level-5 over its popular Inazuma Eleven soccer franchise. Sega alleges that Level-5 infringed on two patents that outline controlling game characters on a touchscreen via pen or finger. Yomiuri Online did not list which specific patents were in contention, but Sega is suing for ¥900 million ($10.8 million/ £6.7 million) in damages. Opening arguments in the case were heard on December 7, 2012.

Level-5 responded to Sega's allegations with a statement on their website today, which has been translated by Kotaku.

"Inazuma Eleven does not violate Sega's patents," the statement read.

Level-5 noted that the first Inazuma Eleven game came out in August 2008. Sega received the approval on the first related patent in 2009 and was approved for the second in 2011. Level-5 also pointed out other Nintendo DS titles that used touch pen controls before 2009. The developer said that Sega's patents cover a fundamental gaming mechanic and it intends to fight the case in court.

"As a result of examining these discrepancies, we've concluded that there is no patent violation,” said Level-5's statement. "While Inazuma Eleven does not violate Sega's patent, we do recognize that Sega's lawsuit could restrict choices in gaming from here on out as well as hindering the growth of the game industry."

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Andrew Ihegbu Studying Bsc Commercial Music, University of Westminster

490 219 0.4
but Sega is suing for ¥900 million ($108 million/ £6.7 million) in damages...

I don't know about the yen, but last time I checked $108m did not equal £6.7m. Can I get confirmation on that?

Posted:3 years ago


M.H. Williams Staff Writer, USgamer

37 32 0.9

Posted:3 years ago


Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,292 456 0.4
So does this cover any DS or smartphone game where you directly control an avatar with a finger?

Posted:3 years ago


Richard Westmoreland Game Desginer, Exient Ltd

138 90 0.7
Are there any designers who actually think design patents are a good thing?

Posted:3 years ago


Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises

509 348 0.7
If at first your game doesn't succeed, patent the controls and sue sue sue again!

Posted:3 years ago


Hugo Trepanier Senior UI Designer, Hibernum

194 216 1.1
I'm not familiar with this title... anyone care to explain what is so special about its touch controls that would warrant a lawsuit?

Nowadays pretty much all mobile games have touch controls, for the plain and obvious reason that the vast majority of mobile devices are touch based, so I don't understand how one could patent such a thing. If this lawsuit pulls through, which I'm sure it won't if there's any logic to this world, then it would basically ruin all forms of touch mobile gaming.

@Richard, I would think not. Most designers are in this business to make fun games, not to get rich by bullying the competition. That would be the legal department's prerogative and raison d'être ;)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Hugo Trepanier on 14th December 2012 5:26am

Posted:3 years ago


Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 595 0.4
Software patents are already a big problem. Soon they will be a bigger problem to the game industry. Look at what Lodsys is up to. They are a silly idea, copyright is enough. It served the entertainment IP industry for long enough and it works.

We are looking at patenting the innovations in our upcoming products. If you can't beat the system then join it.
The industry bodies and the government should be doing something about this.

Posted:3 years ago


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