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Comic for: February 14th, 2012
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Gaming News: "Patent Trolls"
Posted: Tuesday February 14th, 2012 by

I read on Gamasutra yesterday that a company called Personalized Media Communications has sued Farmville developer Zynga for infringement of four of PMCs patents.[more info] Now to be fair, I say in the comic that the patents are only a year old. And this is somewhat true as the four patents cited in the article were approved in 2010. BUT, and this is an important point of clarification, these four patents were filed in 1995.

Yes, I know it's a bit unfair of me to call this patent trolling because, well, most patent trolls file for their patents AFTER the idea has long sense been established. And that's really the issue I wanted to address with the comic. But in this particular case, the patents are well established, PMC just sat on it until they found a company they could potentially wring some money out of. With the bankroll Zynga has now, they're a natural target. And Zynga probably never realized they were "infringing".

Don't take that as me paint a nice light on Zynga. They keep doing stuff that I consider shady. I really did just want to poke at how broken the US patent system currently is as most cases like this are just blatant money grabs. In this instance I'll purse my lips and shrug at PMC conceding that it might be valid. But really that's as far as I'm willing to go.

It's hard to read patent gibberish, but the four being cited in this suit just feel way too broad and vague to ever really be consider truly valid in my book. There's a link to each of them in the Gamasutra article if you're interested. [more info]

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