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Western publishers looking beyond IP

The value of IP is already very well understood, but one firm has claimed that games publishers in the West are slowly catching up with their Eastern counterparts by taking measures to protect their technical innovations.

A new report from patent firm Withers & Rogers says that of the top ten best selling games in the first half of 2011, three companies filed associated patents.

Specifically, Team Bondi filed two for LA Noire relating to interface and gameplay while EA has filed five patents covering the multiplayer tech included in Crysis 2.

In fact, since 1995 EA has filed over 40 patents, with the majority relating to tech found in the FIFA series.

Such practice has been common in Japan for years, and while the West is considered the leader in many elements of the video games industry at the moment patents is one area in which it is playing catch-up.

Games manufacturers outside Japan have been slow on the uptake when it comes to seeking protection for their innovations,” Withers & Rogers attorney Karl Barnfather states.

To date, they have tended to consider IP only in relation to the finished product. For example, they would utilise copyright, trademarks or design protection to protect their intellectual property.

There are now signs that this is beginning to change and more manufacturers in Europe and elsewhere around the world are choosing to file patent applications to protect technological aspects relating to how games are played.”

Studio games manufacturers are content-driven by nature but they are also commercially astute. They recognise that IP protection increases their options and allows them to determine what happens to their innovations in the future. For some, the option to license technologies to other industry sectors could be a real possibility in an increasingly converging marketplace.”

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