Video Game Law Blog

October 02, 2006

The European Patent Convention says that schemes, rules and methods for playing games, and programs for computers, cannot be patented. However, the European Patent Office has taken a broad approach to that restriction, such that certain patent claims have been allowed even though they seem to fit within the list of unpatentable material.

Most recently, the EPO's Technical Board of Appeal has allowed certain claims in a patent application by Konami relating to a guide system for identifying player-controlled characters and the direction of the nearest team-mate.

The EPO examination division originally rejected the claims because the only portion that was arguably patentable under the EPC was anticipated by prior art. The Technical Board of Appeal overturned that decision and ordered that the patent be granted.

Whether game software is patentable is a tricky question "? different jurisdictions take different approaches to whether software or business methods are patentable, and there are many philosophic debates about whether software or business methods should be patentable at all. The EPO decision gives Konami certain patent protection in Europe, and may open the door for additional game-related patent applications in Europe.

Coverage at http://shorl.com/fapifremefeku (Gamasutra)

Text of the EPO Decision http://shorl.com/fyjusumubryba