On September 6 2018, Tokyo District Court dismissed the GREE’s claim against Supercell in a patent infringement case, which was previously reported here. GREE demanded JPY 100 million (approx. USD 909,000) in damages from Supercell for the patent infringement by the layout editor of “Clash of Clans”.
In this case, the interpretation of “the whole game space … chosen by player” in Claim 6 and 8 of the subject patent (JP 5952947) became an issue, especially from the viewpoint of how a player chooses the whole game space. The judge examined the description of the specification and the response to an office action, and concluded that the player chooses a certain range of the game space, considering no other options described or suggested in the specification or the response. The judge ruled that the layout editor does not infringe the GREE’s patent, because there is no facility or action taken by a player to choose a certain range of the game space.
Claim 6 [Machine translation provided by the JPO database]
It is a control program of a computer provided with a storage part,
Based on an instruction from a player, a game is advanced by arranging a game medium which may contain a game medium for defending from an attack of other players at least in game space,
A game medium and its locating position which have been arranged to the whole game space which is creating a template used for defense to an attack of other players which specifies a locating position of a game medium, and was chosen by player are made into the aforementioned template,
A thumbnail to which it corresponds to a type and a position, the aforementioned template, and the aforementioned template of a game medium arranged in the aforementioned game space is memorized to the aforementioned storage part,
A game progress screen containing the aforementioned game space and a predetermined button is displayed,
In the aforementioned game progress screen, it responds to what the aforementioned predetermined button was chosen for by player, and displays a template selection picture containing a thumbnail to which it corresponds to a template,
In the aforementioned template selection picture, it responds to an instruction of a player and chooses a template to which it corresponds to a specific thumbnail,
A template chosen [ aforementioned ] is applied,
A control program of a computer to perform.
In order to obtain a patent, applicants tend to behave so that the patent claim is interpreted limitedly in an examination. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see that patent owners have trouble enforcing the patents. A lesson learned from this case is that it’s important for inventors to present various embodiments, working with patent attorneys or patent agents, in order to obtain stronger patents.
You can access the decision (Japanese) here.