Uniloc is a patent protection company based in Australia that specializes in anti-piracy technologies. They have decided to start suing Mojang, the developers of Minecraft, for infringing on an Android-related patent called”System and Method for preventing unauthorized access to electronic data”. Essentially it’s a system for authenticating license data. I wonder how they proved this because it seems like it’d take a lot of code-digging. The lawsuit says:
“Mojang is directly infringing one or more claims of the ’067 patent in this judicial district and elsewhere in Texas, including at least claim 107, without the consent or authorization of Uniloc, by or through making, using, offering for sale, selling and/or importing Android based applications for use on cellular phones and/or tablet devices that require communication with a server to perform a license check to prevent the unauthorized use of said application, including, but not limited to, Mindcraft.”
(Apparently, in a official court order, they misspelled Minecraft.) You can see the full lawsuit here. Notch, the mastermind behind Minecraft, is against software patents. After obtaining the lawsuit, he wrote up a cunning blog post linked below and tweeted:
“Software patents are plain evil. Innovation within software is basically free, and it’s growing incredibly rapid. Patents only slow it down.”
Ric Richardson, the founder of Uniloc, has a different opinion on the matter:
“It amazes me that people complain about paying a royalty for a technology that stops up to a third of a software companies sales from being lost to piracy. What are you saying? “Its all right to steal from Uniloc as long as it helps stop pirates stealing from me? … I had to spend $40,000 back in 1992 to protect my idea. It was not frivolous for me… it was the difference between having a deposit for a house and having a patent.”
Uniloc has requested a jury trial. They’ve also requested that Mojang pays them for both previous and future royalties. I hope that Mojang is able to get this all sorted out. I watched Notch’s tweets and blog posts as he developed the game, I don’t think he would ever try to infringe on a patent.
I think I agree with Notch that software patents are evil and only slows down innovation. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below!
sources: Notch, Richardson, Actual Patent