Court Ruling: EA's Anti-Piracy Software Is Patent Infringing
from the live-by-IP,-die-by-IP dept
Between the company’s general disposition and the incredible failure of the SimCity launch, Electronic Arts is becoming a name associated directly with digital rights management. The most infamous DRM platform the company has used is probably SecuROM, which was noteworthy for being equal parts mega-annoying to paying customers, as well as being so massively ineffective that games employing SecuROM later became amongst the most pirated video games of all time. But, results aside, EA would tell you that it needed to use DRM to protect the company from piracy. Even if SecuROM failed, the company had to at least try, or else the freeloaders that live the highlife getting around intellectual property laws would win. Violating IP laws is wrong, damn it, and EA was going to do everything in its power to right that wrong.
Including violating a notorious patent troll’s intellectual property to do so, apparently — at least, according to an East Texas court, which awarded Uniloc nearly $5 million after determining that EA violated the patent troll’s patent with the SecuROM platform.
Uniloc Luxembourg S.A. sued in 2013, claiming EA’s SecuROM video game activation system infringes on U.S. Patent No. 5,490,216. The system allows EA customers to activate and register their video games and is aimed at reducing piracy and “casual copying,” Uniloc alleged. SecuROM restricts the number of devices a customer can simultaneously activate a game on with the same key. EA games that use the system include “Alice: Madness Returns,” “Dragon Age II” and “Darkspore: Limited Edition,” the complaint stated. Uniloc asked the court to for compensatory damages and “a reasonable, on-going, post judgment royalty.” A federal jury agreed with Uniloc and awarded over $4.86 million in compensatory damages on Friday.
I have to admit, I feel a bit like the characters at the end of the original Jurassic Park movie, who were being attacked by velociraptors only to be saved at the last moment by the tyrannosaurus rex that had nearly murdered them all earlier. You don’t really root for either side; you can only pray they tear each other apart. That said, schadenfreude is one of my failings, and enjoying it with the healthy dose of irony that comes along with EA infringing on a patent with its anti-piracy software is so good, it’s likely fattening.
But, hey, live the IP sword, die by the IP sword, right?