Patentability of Video Games: Analyzing the Aspects
Patents provide the proprietor the right to effectively monetize the invention and have the monopoly of the same. With such utmost importance, the various companies are seeking patent protection in those fields where it taking patent protection was never thought of. One such industry is the video games industry. If we talk about the UK, the video game industry has been an emerging field where multiple developments are noticed. Recently, Electronic Arts agreed to purchase the video game publisher Code masters for $1.2b, thereby playing a leading role in video game development and publication. The base of the video game industry has been increasing day-by-day where we are seeing the industry having worth billions of dollars. With the astounding worth, it is important to structure the IP in a sense that could provide more benefit to the company. Therefore, the industry people must be clear about obtaining suitable IP rights that could increase the opportunity to commercialize and make more profit out of it.
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Primarily we talk about computer games, it being a piece of software. That software is configured according to the set of game rules which is executed by the hardware of the system. Being software, copyright plays an efficient role. For a patent to be considered there needs to be a strong technical solution for a technical problem and must constitute all requirements namely, industrial applicability, non-obvious and the inventive steps to be followed. If we understand this aspect of patent it becomes very difficult to assume any patentability for the software games. Talking about the European Patent Office, for the grant of patents, they did not recognize things such as computer programs, playing games, or mathematical methods, as specified under Article 52(2), (3) EPC.
But the EPO will consider the patentability of the said invention on certain advances. If the computer program is run on the system and while running there are probable technical effects that are beyond the normal physical interaction, then there are chances that the Office might consider the same program as patentable. So even though the video games are the software and work on the rules being configured, there may be patentable subject matter in a way how the software runs and if it provides further technical effect beyond the physical interaction.
Games and Technical Effect
It is sometimes very difficult to assume that the games provide any such patentability subject matter. For example, if a game suggests any such probability of a character appearing on the map, there are chances that this probability calculation will be considered as a technical effect and it can have a substantial impact in providing a technical solution. Therefore, such factors can be taken into consideration while dealing with the patentability requirement. This small example shows that certain features can be used to modify the program giving further solutions to the technical problem.
We must have witnessed that in certain games there are features that work as a guide in the game where the player identifies the character and also pass a guide mark which tells the second character to which the ball has to be passed. This small feature is visible in the display area. In such a case if the technical problem constitutes a visibility issue of the character in the display, such feature, which is of the guide mark, could prove to be a technical solution to the technical problem and can be considered in the inventive step.
In brief, it can be understood that the games can have the patentability requirement and can be patentable. Assuming that the industry is going to be more valued globally, the gaming industry must consider patentability as their option, which might help commercially.