July 12, 2013 | By Adi Kamdar

Independent Game Developers: The Latest Targets of a Bad Patent Troll

A growing number of independent game developers have received demand letters from Treehouse Avatar Technologies for allegedly violating patent 8,180,858, a "Method and system for presenting data over a network based on network user choices and collecting real-time data related to said choices." Essentially, this patent covers creating a character online, and having the game log how many times a particular character trait was chosen.

In other words, an unbelievably basic data analytics method was somehow approved to become a patent.

The patent troll, Treehouse, has surfaced before. Back in October 2012, the company sued Turbine, developer of Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online.

This is a textbook patent troll case. Treehouse owns a very broad software patent but doesn't, it seems, make or manufacture anything itself. They simply send demands around or, in some cases, sue alleged infringers. And developers—most recently, independent game developers—lose out by being subject to lawyer fees, licensing fees, litigation costs, or the fear of implementing what seems to be a very basic, obvious feature to their product.

When trolls attack, innovation is stifled. For more on everything EFF is doing to change this reality, visit our patent issue page.


Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

A deep dive into XKEYSCORE, one of the NSA's creepiest spying tools: https://eff.org/r.c6hp

Jul 3 @ 3:12pm

Come to EFF HQ on July 8 for a book talk with author of "Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Tech" https://eff.org/r.i3fv

Jul 2 @ 4:57pm

EFF is turning 25! Here's the who, what, when, where, how, and—maybe most importantly—why of our celebration: https://eff.org/r.6dov

Jul 2 @ 4:51pm
JavaScript license information