Microsoft, Sony, and ‘Angry Birds’ Dev Being Hit With Lawsuits

By | 5 years ago 

Video games aren’t usually considered a serious business – that is until you start launching lawsuits. For most the idea of taking some of the industry’s biggest names seems preposterous, as most of these companies have law departments large enough to swat away all but the most persistent claims of wrongdoing.

Yet at the present time there are a number of lawsuits passing through the American justice system involving many of the industry’s biggest brands. From Sony to Microsoft and Angry Birds to The Sims, no one is safe from the threatening hand of justice. With that in mind, here’s a quick roundup of the latest lawsuits to strike the video game marketplace. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if these are just cases of people and firms looking to make a quick buck.

First up is Sony, being sued not only by 55 angry PSN subscribers, but also insurance firm Zurich America. The firm filed papers in a New York court seeking a declaration that they were not liable for any costs arising from civil lawsuits in regards to the PSN outage. They believe that Sony’s PSN breach was not covered under their insurance agreement with the electronics giant and as such, they’re off the hook.

This issue could potentially become a major one, as Sony is currently under investigation from a number of state and national bodies in regards to the massive data breach that occurred on its PSN and Sony Online servers in April 2011.  The breach led to 12.3 million pieces of  credit card detail being stolen and potentially disseminated through illegal channels.

In another surprising move, Zurich America also filed injunctions against fellow Sony insurers Mitsui Sumimoto Insurance AIG and ACE Ltd. In other words, Zurich is covering all their bases in the event that their first declaration fails, and the firm is held liable.

Logo of PSN Network

Meanwhile Rovio, developer of the popular mobile game Angry Birds have found themselves slapped with a lawsuit courtesy of patent company Lodsys. Lodsys has appeared in the media fairly frequently in the past few years, having launched class action suits against industry heavyweights Apple and EA over similar infringements of patents. This particular lawsuit centers around in-app payments, more specifically the way in which these are handled and processed on mobile platforms.

Earlier this year Lodsys entered a legal challenge against six other mobile developers on both Android and iOS platforms for exactly the same thing, so at least Rovio isn’t alone. Apple has already jumped to the defense of it’s developers, stating that its platform covers the alleged infringement and that the allegations from Lodsys have no basis.

When the BBC contacted Rovio for a response, the developer stated that they hadn’t been served notice regarding the lawsuit. A spokeswoman for the developer stated:

“As soon as we receive more information we will take appropriate action.”

It just wouldn’t be a party without Microsoft, and the Xbox 360 manufacturer hasn’t escaped the law’s mighty hammer. Ohio-based Impulse Technology Ltd. have filed a lawsuit with the District Court of Delaware. Impulse Technology is basing their case on the way in which the Kinect unit tracks users within a multidimensional space, claiming that the device infringes on multiple patents held by the company.

The company is seeking damages and immediate removal of the product from retailers, and also naming several game developers such as EA, Sega and Konami in the lawsuit, accusing the groups of developing games that “infringe several of their patents.”

Microsoft isn’t commenting on the allegations, however it would take a large amount of wishful thinking to believe that the company would allow its Kinect unit to be removed from sale. Microsoft is enjoying substantial success from the Xbox 360 peripheral and would likely challenge any attempt to remove it from the marketplace.

It might be tempting to simply assume that the companies in question are trying to get a payday through someone else’s hard work. The truth is, even the largest companies in the business aren’t inherently moral or above shady legal activity. It’s hard to know the ins and outs of the cases without working for either side, but we’ll keep you up to date on the cases as they develop.

So, what’s your take? Do any of these cases sound fair? Do you think there’s any chance of seeing Kinect pulled from shelves? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source: PatentArcade, BBC, Reuters