IP news

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Good morning everyone. Hope you had a good beginning of the week and are ready for the week ahead. For this week’s IP news:

From the US: patent over a videogame system

Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment (WBIE), publisher of “Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor” and its sequel (both developed by Monolith Entertainment), has finally managed to secure a patent for the franchise’s signature Nemesis System.

WBIE has been trying to secure this patent since 2015 but has had to revise and resubmit it multiple times. Initial rejections from the USPTO claimed that there were too many similarities to other patents, among others. Finally, earlier this month, the USPTO issued a statement confirming that the patent would go into effect as of February 23 of this year. WBIE will maintain ownership over this patent for 20 years, starting from the date of the application (so 2015 + 20).

What does this patent application include? The patent, filed under the name “Nemesis characters, nemesis forts, social vendettas and followers in computer games”, effectively codifies the functions of Monolith’s Nemesis system.

This patent covers a system featuring procedurally-generated NPCs (non-player characters) that exist in a hierarchy and interact with and will remember the actions of players, have their appearance/behaviour altered by players, and whose place in that hierarchy can change and affect the position of other NPCs in said hierarchy. It also covers the Social Conquest battles allowing players to fortify or attack one another’s strongholds and see how their army of orcs performs against their friends.

What does this entail for videogame developers? After the entry into force of the patent, any developer wishing to build a feature with all the aspects detailed in the patent will have to secure a license from WBIE. In order to know how much leeway you have as a developer, make sure you contact a specialised IP lawyer who will be able to assess the situation and provide you with precious legal advice.

This is all for this week. You can expect our monthly blog post on Thursday.

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