Two of EA’s biggest games have seemingly landed the publishing giant in a spot of legal trouble. It seems that both Apex Legends and Anthem are allegedly infringing on certain patents, which now see’s EA sued by the owners of these patents.
Based on a report by SegmentNext, Stone Interactive Ventures (SIV) filed the lawsuit against EA in the Unites States district court of Texas last month. The plaintiff claims that it holds the rights to US7593864B2 and US8516473B2 in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The lawsuit alleges that EA did not obtain a license to operate on the patents, and as such must either pay mounting royalties, or cease infringing on them. It does not however, state how much SIV is seeking in damages.
US7593864B2 covers “a method and apparatus for managing ownership of virtual property accessible to users.” Meanwhile US8516473 refers to “a system for distributing and selling program objects.” Both Apex Legends and Anthem were cited as examples of EA games that infringed on these through their in-game currencies.
Both games feature in-game currencies, Apex Coins and Apex Legends and Anthem Shards for Anthem, that players can use to purchase cosmetics from these games’ in-game stores. As part of the lawsuit, SIV also argued that the players themselves are also infringing on the patents by obtaining in-game items (in other words, virtual property) with these currencies, as well as sharing them in-game.
SIV, based on what little information is available, is a patent assertion entity that purchases patents for profit. In addition to this, SIV also makes claims for another company called Intellectual Ventures Assets (IVA). Founded by by Microsoft veterans Nathan Myhrvold and Edward Jung, the latter is a “think tank” company has become infamous for acquiring various patents and “intellectual assets,” currently sitting on about 40,000 of them, including the two patents mentioned in the lawsuit against EA. It’s reputation is such that it was once called “the most hated company in tech” in a CNET article back in 2012.
With the number of games using some form of virtual currency these days, how this lawsuit plays out could have massive repercussions for the industry. Should it be dismissed and EA wins, it could mean other studios won’t have to pay royalties to SIV and IVA, possibly helping decrease development costs.