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Can gamecontrols be patented? are they protected by copyright?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by TylerPerry, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. TylerPerry

    TylerPerry

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    I think i've had an idea that is a verry good control scheme for ios games.... could i patent this? or is it protected by copyright?

    If i made a game using this idea is it in anyway protected? or could other devs steal the controll scheme?

    I guess if the "slide to unlock" could be patented this could aswell, but im realy unsure. If i do need to patent it then ill keep a record of it untill im 18 :) as i doubt a patent lawer would take notice of a kid.

    (I would post my idea here but its a public forum so you no i dont wish for the world to no)

    Thanks,
    Tyler
     
  2. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    Ask game development questions on a game development forum.

    Ask for legal advice from a lawyer.
     
  3. TylerPerry

    TylerPerry

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    Maby, ask for a game related, legal question on a game development forum as others may have been in the same situation?
     
  4. AdamOwen

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    Agreed, contacting a Patent lawyer is your best option. Be warned that it can become very expensive and may never actually come to fruition (many patents sit in a dormant pending state for years on end).

    If it really is a fantastic new idea, why don't you make an awesome game that takes full advantage of it and get it out there? Sure it'll get copied but you'll make a great name for yourself and it'd be more profitable than trying to hold onto it.
     
  5. Steffan-Poulsen

    Steffan-Poulsen

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    Please don't be a part of the patent system, it does nothing but hinder the progress of game-development in general. If you have a great idea, and make a great game - you will be rewarded - and as many has noted, the danger of someone stealing your work is much much smaller than the danger of your game fading into obscurity. So I would focus on making the game be its best, instead of being paranoid.
     
  6. varedis

    varedis

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    Even if you could patent your "unique" idea, patents mean nothing if you can't actually afford to take the infringer to court.
     
  7. keithsoulasa

    keithsoulasa

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    +1
     
  8. Farfarer

    Farfarer

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    It could probably be patented, if it's not been done before, but it's a bit of a dick move.

    The vast majority of software patents are harmful rather than helpful.

    If your control scheme is that good, just put it in a game and release it.
     
  9. TylerPerry

    TylerPerry

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    Maby in half a year or so.
     
  10. Filto

    Filto

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  11. kingcharizard

    kingcharizard

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    why would you wanna do this its selfish
     
  12. vdek

    vdek

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    Relax guys it's only titanty.

    His new wonderful never been done before control scheme has probably been done in one of the hundreds of thousands of games available between iOS and Android.
     
  13. Haledire

    Haledire

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    I dunno about being able to patent some unique control scheme, but it seems like it would be on par with the whole "Edge" debacle: http://www.tigsource.com/2009/06/09/tim-langdell-and-edge-part-two/

    To clarify: Not that I'm saying it would be 'on this scale' but if you happen to wind up finding that 'one guy' that already made a 'similar enough' control scheme and you get into a dispute with them, it starts boiling down to who made more money with their game or who can afford the better attorney.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2012
  14. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

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    /sigh.... how many times I'm going to answer this same question... You know there is a search tool in these forums, right?

    Anyways, lets rephrase, yet once more and add some topic specific points. First out with the basic:

    Your input idea is not unique. I bet it's a variation of one of the following:

    • Virtual buttons/sticks/dpads.
    • Swipes.
    • Tilt/balance.
    • Gestures.
    • Camera recognition.
    • Volume button being used as game buttons (disallowed by Apple, won’t ever be approved.)
    • Bluetooth connected controller.
    • Virtual controls in a secondary device, syncing via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

    The slide to unlock is a gesture. Yes, it got patented. But:
    The patent was filed for in 2006. Back then the concept was actually new. Today it's just a slight variation of existing stuff meaning it's unlikely to be approved. Also, note it was awarded in 2010. That's 4 years later. To put it in perspective, you were 10 years old.

    Also the patent filing document is a 35 page document carefully crafted by the best patent lawyers Apple was able to pay to make sure the thing didn’t get rejected. Patents can often spend 10 to 16 years bouncing before they get approved.

    Now let’s go back to you and let’s say you managed to actually manage to make something new, like a psychic connection that requires no new hardware. You will need to pay a lawyer to get you a nifty document to bloat it with legal padding. A simple slide to unlock required 35 pages. You can imagine how long you’re likely more complex idea would take. It will be a minimum of 5k in lawyer fees. Then there are the filing fees, which are also very complex because they depend heavily on the document and the number of claim bullet points in it. I hear a ballpark of 3k is about right, but can easily jump to 4k.

    So with lawyer involvement and filing fees and making room for error, let’s say you have 10k to toss around, and 4 years to waste waiting for the patent to be approved. What do you think you will do then? Sue anyone that used it? Tracking down infringements will be hard, for starters. You will likely have to either just pursue indie gamers that can’t afford lawyers and will go bankrupt before being able to pay you a cent or large companies with better lawyers than you.

    During those 4 years (and I remind you, that’s being positive, it may be up to 16 years) the patent won’t be protecting you from any potential lawsuit coming your way.

    Point being? It's useless. The entire process is a waste of time and money unless you are a huge company that is stockpiling patents in an attempt to roadblock other companies from competing with them. As an individual this is not a viable tactic, you must have lawyers in your payroll (as full time employees) for this to be even remotely viable.
     
  15. varedis

    varedis

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    Also patents are only effective in the country for which they are granted, so you would need to file patents in every country to truly protect your "unique" idea. Let us know when you have calculated the exact amount you need to file all those patents and we will tell you your virtual joystick that is also a button is not going to make you a millionaire.
     
  16. Filto

    Filto

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    Yeah yeah yeah. Can we hear about the idea now Titanty :)
     
  17. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    At a rough estimation, it should cost $20,000 aus dollars to patent worldwide correctly, as it is a ui + gameplay you will probably need 2 patents to cover it, and the fees aren't refundable if your patent is rejected or contested with success.

    Basically a patent can only be fair if it is for an actual invention for a little guy. It favours big companies for software.

    It is my sincere wish that all forms of software patent are removed one day. It does not encourage innovation because that innovation to outdo the competition is already there in the field of software.

    Copyright, yes
    Patent, no!
     
  18. George Foot

    George Foot

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    You do have the option of selling your idea to a big firm for patenting - either a game company or a dedicated patent management firm. They usually pay you to transfer existing patents, but they might also be able to make new filings if your idea really is unique. However, you lose all rights to the idea this way - you'll get a lump sum.

    I too feel uncomfortable promoting patents for game mechanics. However, if you truly believe your mechanic to be novel, you may want to cover yourself by writing it up and taking it to a lawyer, so at least if somebody else patents it later on you can prove that you came up with it first. You still don't get the patent, but you avoid having to pay them license fees.
     
  19. nullstar

    nullstar

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    Software patents are an affliction on the industry, dont spread it
     
  20. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

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    I heard somewhere the ballpark price patent management firms (PC for Patent Trolls) pay for patents is in the 10k range. That barely makes up for the costs of getting your patent and the time invested... actually that comes way under if you consider time wasted. Also these firms won’t just buy any patent, they pick patents that have broad enough wording they can use to sue people. They don't care for the actual value of the patent's originally. Actually the lest original the best for them since that means they are more likely to sue a bunch of other people.

    But even that has risks. Do the transfer wrong and the patent troll you sold your patent to may come after you for licensing fees. You will need a lawyer in the deal that looks after your interests.
     
  21. TylerPerry

    TylerPerry

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    Thanks to everyone that answerd my question, i find it quite fascinating that the people that came here being rude are the ones that have never made anything?

    Ok ill let the beens spill, i think that the back camera is in the perfect position to be a shoulder button and since it is a camera it should hje possible to use it like light dependent resistor and shoot when the light is lower then the light coming in contact with the camera when the app is launched this i think could be a good FPS controller. A small delay displayed by an icon of some kind would prevent accidental touches.

    Good?
     
  22. Starsman Games

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    Hmm... that’s actually not a bad idea, although I don’t think it will work well. For one in many Android devices (if you targeting Android) the camera is dead center.

    The other one is that the feature won’t work in dark places.

    Also, you will have to snatch video in real time and constantly measure the light levels, every frame. Given that you get the video on a very slight delay that may mean you will get a very perceptible input lag.

    Also, you will have to pull your finger all the way out to make sure proper levels of light make it into the camera, that adds further input lag due to the distance you finger must travel. Maybe sliding the finger sideways away from the camera instead of out... not very ergonomic but possible.

    It also east battery life like crazy to use the camera.

    BUT all those issues aside... I do like the direction you were thinking there.

    I think Google has no issue if you use the volume buttons for input, though. I know Apple wont let you but Google may not care.
     
  23. nullstar

    nullstar

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    Quick, to the patent office before titanty get there :p. Seriously though, yeh its a good idea, but it would have its issues such as being effected by local lighting conditions and people putting their phones down. Whether its patentable or not though I wouldn't know. It seems like a novel application but using already established ideas and techniques so I've no idea where you'd stand on that one. Plus its possible that your idea might already be covered by already existing super generic patents. To re-iterate though, these kind of patents are the devil, dont perpetuate it.
     
  24. Starsman Games

    Starsman Games

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    Oh one other thing: Microsoft has a patent on cammera based touch screens (thats how their Surface computing platform works.)

    Their patent may be broad enough to cover this usage of a phone's camera.
     
  25. lmbarns

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    Reminds me of a discussion for a mobile augmented reality "paranormal investigation" game brainstorm in a different forum.

    http://www.gamedev.net/topic/620562-mobile-augmented-reality-game-idea-paranormal-investigation/
     
  26. kn00tcn

    kn00tcn

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    i dont see anyone that was rude... how would you know they never made anything?

    this sounds similar to the 'Circle Pad Pro' for 3ds, where it adds a joystick shoulder buttons by sending signals to the sensor in the back of the ds

    adding a delay (for an fps game) is risky can cause frustration (for example i was playing killzone2 a few weeks ago, the low fps + input lag was messing up my pistol shooting, most of my R1 taps were not being registered, thus making me not fire any shots)

    i guess without an attachment, you're limited in what you can do, while an attachment can send perfect signals to the cam (but then arent you able to make an attachment that runs over usb? guaranteed button sensing as many buttons as you want)
     
  27. Vert

    Vert

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    Patent a physical object, such as a design for a shovel or circuit board design. Let copyright protect all digital intellectual property. Patents only hinder innovation when they protect ideas, not implementations. Intellectual property is just that, an idea. I mean do we really want to let someone patent WASD controls?

    On a more serious note, Patents are supposed to only be granted for non-obvious implementations. So I am in the camp thinking its insane to think that touch gestures can be patented by apple when touch screens have been around for such a long time. I mean, wasn't signing a digital credit card reader and pressing OK prior art for touch sensitive gestures? So to be honest, your control idea should fall short of being non-obvious, as using input controls as well, input controls, isn't that innovative. But if you go to the US court system, it might be granted. They pass almost any patent pertaining to technology these days it seems.

    Now try to reverse it. Dissect your game and search through all the patents to see if you violate any. Its a legal nightmare to think about that and what could happen to you with all the patent trolls out and about with loosely worded overly broad patents on ideas.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2012
  28. FusionGames

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    @ MakerofGames - I agree with everything you have said above except one minor thing. At the end you mentioned that ideas can have patents. I'm pretty sure that ideas and concepts cannot be copyrighted or patented. Hence we have so many MMOs FPSs and Zombie Shooters these days. If ideas were copyrighted, I there would be one FPS, one MMO, etc. Someone may correct me on this; I'm not a legal expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm pretty sure that's how it works.

    Aside from that, great post, I agree with everything you said :)
     
  29. Filto

    Filto

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    sounds pretty cool sure, but why patent? You didn't invent anything, you didn't invest any money, hey you didn't even invest time so what is it you feel that you need to protect? But ok lets run with this...

    You go to the patent office and realize that someone beat you to it and there already is a patent on using the mobile camera as a gamecontrol device. Darn it you say, there goes the cool steering thing for my new game, alright I'll go with tapping the screen but wait... tapping is also patented. Swiping-patented, Gyrosteering-patented. You sit for months at end and finally come up with a superduper novel way of gamecontrol input just to find out that using phones as a gameinput device is patented. So you give up making your really cool mobilegame altogether, a game that would have entertained millions of people and earned you a healthy profit on your invested time and money, just because people think that ideas, which by the way are totally free and very very rarely unique, needs to be protected.
     
  30. Meltdown

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    The problem with that is someone may have been in a slightly different situation. There could be one extremely minor difference between how they implemented something, and how you will implement it.

    They go ahead on this forum and they say sure, I did this and it's fine, so you can do it too..

    Meanwhile.. several things could actually have happened...

    1.) They did actually overstep on someone's patent/ip, yet nobody found out about it or sued them. You might not be so lucky

    2.) That minor 'difference' between how you implemented something, and how the other person did , could in fact be a 'massive' thing in legal terms, that you as a game dev, and the rest of us here might not pick up.

    So as I said, don't ask for legal advice here. Ask a lawyer. They specialise in law and all the nuances contained therein.

    Otherwise, by all means, proceed at your own risk.
     
  31. Vert

    Vert

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    I make mention of doing the reverse because their are some strange US patents that you need to be aware of. More if you write your own engine. There are silly patents like Namco's on having a full game to play on a load screen. See the trivia section in this article: http://www.giantbomb.com/interactive-loading-screen/92-1419/

    The US patent office has given out some pretty liberal patents that are for ideas. That is why I mentioned it.
     
  32. FusionGames

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    Wow. That is a strange patent...thanks for correcting me on that one. I'll be keeping that in mind as I progress on my game...
     
  33. jc_lvngstn

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    So...it's completely impossible that another game developer or company who has already found out the facts on this could post their advice in this forum?
    He doesn't have to take it. But it could still give him useful advice or direction.