Tencent has lost the Gree vs. Supercell patent case and it's going to cost a pretty penny: a judge has awarded Gree $92.2 million in damages for the violation of six patents.
Supercell is a gaming company with a strong focus on mobile titles, most notably Clash of Clans. Most free-to-play games have a lot in common, but mobile developer Gree apparently has a fair few patents on certain game mechanics. That led to the court case Gree Inc. v. Supercell Oy in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas — and Tencent subsidiary Supercell has lost the case.
As Bloomberg reports (via Gamasutra), Gree alleged that Supercell's games Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, and Hay Day infringed on six of Gree's patents. A jury trial took place and the verdict has come in — the jury ruled that Supercell's violation of the patents was "willful", allowing the judge to increase the financial penalty by as much as three times the amount awarded with the verdict. Gree has been awarded $92.2 million in damages as a result of the court case.
The Supercell Patent Case Could Be Big Trouble for Game Developers
Tencent has announced that it will appeal the results of the Supercell patent case. That said, game developers could be in for some serious trouble if the decision isn't overturned on appeal; here are five of Gree's patents related to the case as highlighted by Niko Partners Senior Analyst Daniel "ZhugeEX" Ahmad in a tweet:
- A method to improve the usability of city-building games using templates to define the positions of one or more in-game contents that can be applied to in-game areas based on the commands of the player.
- A server and method for transferring an object between two users, as well as the communication module for sending and receiving requests for transfers from other players.
- A control method for a touch-screen shooting game which first displays an effective shooting range which then detects whether an attack target is in range and commences the attack base on a command from the player.
- A recording medium and server method for selecting game content to be used in an in-game battle -- the selected item being replaced by another option for a future turn.
- A server and control method for selecting character cards from a selection and using them in battle against an enemy character -- the selected item being replaced by another option for a future turn.
At a glance, there are likely hundreds (if not thousands) of popular games that would fall afoul of one or more of these patents. Should the US District Court's decision hold up, a lot of game developers — especially mobile developers — may soon find themselves having to pay a licensing fee to Gree or prepare for a court battle.
What do you think of Gree's patents mentioned in the Supercell patent case? Do you think the awarded damages was reasonable? Let us know in the comments below!