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Koby

Koei Tecmo Appeals Ruling in Capcom's Patent Infringement Lawsuit

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KOEI Tecmo filed an appeal on Tuesday after the Intellectual Property High Court in Tokyo ruled in favor of CAPCOM on September 11 in the company's lawsuit against KOEI Tecmo Games for patent infringement. After careful examination, KOEI Tecmo said that it concluded that the court's judgment had errors in interpretation and application of laws. The company filed the appeal to the Supreme Court of Japan, and it seeks to reverse part of the judgment.

 

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On September 11, the Intellectual Property High Court in Tokyo ordered KOEI Tecmo Games to pay 143,843,710 yen (about US$1.34 million), including 130,773,710 yen (about US$1.21 million) in damages and 13,070,000 yen (about US$121,000) in legal fees.

 

The court ruled that KOEI Tecmo Games infringed on Patent No. 3350773 (Patent A), which relates to the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors game series, and Patent No. 3295771 (Patent B), which relates to the Fatal Frame game series. CAPCOM noted that it is satisfied with Wednesday's ruling.

 

This lawsuit is a continuation of a lawsuit CAPCOM initially filed with the Osaka District Court on July 4, 2014. CAPCOM referenced "new content acquired through using a previous game and new software" and "a controller-vibrating feature when enemies are nearby" as claimed patents used in KOEI Tecmo's series.

 

The Osaka District Court ruled on December 14, 2017 that KOEI Tecmo Games infringed on only Patent B, and the company was ordered to pay 5.17 million yen (about US$48,000) in damages and legal fees. CAPCOM was dissatisfied with the ruling and filed an appeal with the Intellectual Property High Court on December 27, 2017. CAPCOM requested damages that totaled 983,231,115 yen (about US$9.12 million) for KOEI Tecmo Games' infringement of Patents A and B. Because the Intellectual Property High Court ruled on Wednesday that only part of KOEI Tecmo Games' relevant works infringed on Patent A, the company was ordered to pay only part of the requested amount.

 

KOEI Tecmo Games stated that is it was satisfied that the court ruled that part of its works do not infringe on patents. However, the company feels it is "very regrettable" that the court did not rule in favor of its claim that all of its works do not infringe on patents. The company plans to examine the judgment thoroughly and consider further action.

 

KOEI Tecmo Games noted that the September 11 ruling will not effect its business performance for the current fiscal year, which ends in March 2020. The company further noted that the rights for Patents A and B already expired due to the expiration of their patent durations. Therefore the ruling will not impact future development and sales. KOEI Tecmo Games plans to respect companies' intellectual property right going forward, while remaining resolute against the improper exercise of rights that can hinder development in the industry.

 

KOEI Tecmo Games president Hisashi Koinuma announced in February that the company would make an announcement regarding Samurai Warriors, but he did not know if the announcement would be this year or next year. He did not specify whether the announcement would be about a possible numbered continuation, but he said that while Samurai Warriors 4 was the last numbered game in the series, it does not mean that the series is ending.

 

KOEI Tecmo Games released the Samurai Warriors 4 game for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita in Japan in March 2014, and on PlayStation 4 in July 2014. The company released the game for all three consoles in North America and Europe in October 2014.

Sengoku Musou 4DX (Samurai Warriors 4 DX), a new release of the game for the PS4 and Switch, launched in Japan on March 14.

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"a controller-vibrating feature when enemies are nearby"

 

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!!! This was considered patent-able?

 

Ludicrous! The entire point of the vibrator in the controller is to provide in-game feedback. It's part of the general purpose design. Patents on specific in-game feedback scenarios is absolutely insane.

 

Seems like Japan's patent environment is just as bad as in the US.

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10 minutes ago, Ankular said:

"a controller-vibrating feature when enemies are nearby"

 

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!!! This was considered patent-able?

 

Ludicrous! The entire point of the vibrator in the controller is to provide in-game feedback. It's part of the general purpose design. Patents on specific in-game feedback scenarios is absolutely insane.

 

Seems like Japan's patent environment is just as bad as in the US.

Pretty sure there is more to it than that, probably specific code used or a specific way it was implemented that was copy/pasted from one of their games. Because you're right, as vague as it sounds, pretty much every game by every developer would fall under it.

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On 10/1/2019 at 7:21 AM, Koby said:

... probably specific code used or a specific way it was implemented that was copy/pasted from one of their games.

While I admit I've never read even a translation of Japan's pertinent Patent and Copyright laws, I have followed the US Patent, Copyright and Trade Secret legal shenanigans very closely. I've also been involved first hand with internal enforcement of a corporation's Copyright and Trade Secret procedures. Copy/paste is always under Copyright. Never under Patents.

 

Lawyers involved in Patent and Copyright cases often try to mix these two in an effort to confuse Patent Offices and juries into finding for simply wrong patents/judgments. This is an especially huge problem for the US Patent office and results in many patents being granted that should never have existed. I can't imagine that Japan's Patent Office doesn't suffer from the same issue.

 

In general, lawyers that work on applying for patents try to obfuscate the application to make as broad a claim as possible in order to later sue companies. It's part of their standard business tactic. This is worst with non-manufacturing companies which buy or apply for patents. If you see news of a patent holding company initiating a lawsuit, this is almost always involves a patent that should never have been granted.

 

TL:DR cheat sheet of terms:

  • Intellectual Property: This is not valid legal term/phrase in any country. It originated as a term by Patent and Copyright lawyers in the US specifically designed to mix the legal concepts behind Patents and Copyrights. Any and every lawyer claiming Intellectual Property rights (especially in any kind of legal document) is trying to pull a fast one. This is always true.
     
  • Patents: State (country) issued, limited time grants to exclusive manufacturing rights of a tangible (results in a physical object) idea. This is why patents are never valid for mathematical algorithms. This is also why computer programs cannot be patented despite the many, many Patent Lawyers who attempt to do so. In the US, the Supreme Court has historically always invalidated these Patents. Granting of these Patents by the Patent Office has always been the result of the applying Patent Lawyer successfully confusing the Patent Office.
     
  • CopyrightsState (country) issued, limited time grants to exclusive distribution of specific expressions (think 'copy/paste') of an idea. Entertainment performances have special treatment under Copyright.
     
  • Trade Marks: State (country) issued, conditionally time unlimited, exclusive grants to a registered 'mark' used for identification. There is wide latitude of what can constitute a 'mark', but they must meet very specific conditions. i.e. common words are excluded.
     
  • Trade Secrets: This is the only non-state, unlimited time right. Only comes into play when taking legal action against corporate espionage. To use this legal right, you have to prove in court that you/your company made a 'good faith' effort to keep a secret (restricted access). Hint: if you don't shred your documents and merely throw them out, you've lost your case. Always.

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