News Article

SEGA Takes Legal Action Against Level-5 Over Nintendo DS Patent Dispute

Posted by Damien McFerran

Inazuma Eleven to blame?

In one of the strangest turn of events we've witnessed for a while, Japanese publisher SEGA is suing Professor Layton studio Level-5 over the use of touch control patents on the Nintendo DS handheld.

Japanese news site Yomiuri Online broke the news, revealing that SEGA was taking action to protect two patents it had "acquired" relating to the process of controlling on-screen characters with a finger or pen.

SEGA is seeking ¥900 million in damages, and wants all eight Inazuma Eleven games removed from sale.

It doesn't look like Level-5 is taking the action lying down, and has stated:

We are preparing our rebuttal and do not have any comments to make at this time.

This is quite a bizarre situation - you have to wonder how SEGA is able to possess patents for touch control on a system it doesn't manufacture, and what's so special about these patents that they don't relate to all the hundreds of other Nintendo DS games which use similar control methods?

We'll keep you updated on this legal battle as and when we have more news.

[via spong.com, kotaku.com, yomiuri.co.jp]

More Stories

Game Screenshots

User Comments (57)

Red_Acteur_2

#1

Red_Acteur_2 said:

Just looks as if SEGA is in dire need of money and does whatever it can to get some... Well I know it isn't the reason why, but it looks like it :/

Kyloctopus

#3

Kyloctopus said:

Hold on... Sega is suing Level 5 fo their touch control Patents? If anything, Level 5 should be suing Sega for Rhythm Thief's complete layout, that looks entirely copied from a Layton game.

singie1

#5

singie1 said:

this seems so stupid! will they do this with nintendo for the zelda ds games?? lol

Wildfire

#7

Wildfire said:

I...I don't understand...So is SEGA going to sue almost every publisher of games on the DS or what?
It's the end of the world I tell'ya! :D

Kirk

#8

Kirk said:

Hmmmmm,

I'm intrigued to find out what these specific touch controls are...

Einherjar

#9

Einherjar said:

Look up what SEGA is doing on Youtube at the moment. They are going on a lawsuite craze O.o But in all honesty, can you have patented rights about a controll scheme ? You can have rights for the device, enabling you to utilize such a controll scheme, but for the controll scheme itself ?`
So, if you could get the rights on "controlling a game character with an analog stick" you could get rich as hell ? O.o

marc_max

#10

marc_max said:

Sega made a complete Professor Layton ripoff with Rhythm Thief... So, what's going on here, Sega?

Pikachupwnage

#13

Pikachupwnage said:

"So if you poke the screen the guy moves! Most original patent ever!"

Sleepy patent office guy approves it without thought

SEGA goes crazy and sues everyone

Well sonic ain't making them those buckets o cash anymore......

BenAV

#14

BenAV said:

What? Sounds like SEGA's going a bit crazy.
I hope they don't succeed in this, because I like Level-5 way more than SEGA and it'd be a shame to see that happen to them over something stupid like this.

Samholy

#15

Samholy said:

About nintendo's zelda , maybe they paid sega their royalties?
So as bad as it seems, if level-5 didnt pay royalties or didnt care to do a patent check, then its their problem. Intellectual property is something important, and SEGA is only trying to keep his rights.
how would you feel to see your creations were stolen or used somewhere without your permission ?
i would be pissed too.
What tickles me is why level-5 didnt do a patent check after so many titles of the same franchise.

Flowerlark

#17

Flowerlark said:

What??? What about the dozens and dozens of other DS games with similar controls? This makes no sense...

SammyOfMobius

#20

SammyOfMobius said:

I love you SEGA, but you're acting very stupid right now. This argument souns very dumb and pointless and it sounds like you people are desperate to make money, even if it means suing another game company. I mean seriously, there are tons of games like this, are you gonna go suing every company that did this? Even Nintendo EAD? Don't be dumb SEGA.

TrueWiiMaster

#21

TrueWiiMaster said:

First lawsuits over rounded rectangles, now lawsuits over controls... Why have patents become so stupid?

LEGEND_MARIOID

#22

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

How wierd? Yeah I Rhythm Thief looked like it cribbed a lot of Level 5's Layton style environments anyway! Lol.

Jaz007

#23

Jaz007 said:

@Samholy uh why would anyone think to do do a patent check on moving your character with a touchscreen? It's not exactly the kind of thing you would think about checking. I don't think SEGA should even be allowed to have this patent.

AugustusOxy

#25

AugustusOxy said:

This is one of the number one problems with gaming. The fact that you can patent an idea... and never use it, just so your competition doesn't get a chance.

AddADashOfSalt

#26

AddADashOfSalt said:

So who has the patent on the back button, the select button, the start button, the touchscreen, the analog pad, the gyro sensor/accelorometer...

If this is true, Sakurai should get in the action, as he practically invented the button masher control system.

SheldonRandoms

#27

SheldonRandoms said:

How did Sega ever get this patent in the first place, like everybody else keeps saying, Rhythm Thief seems to "borrow" the art style and layouts of the Professor Layton games, also I've never even seen Rhythm Thief in a store anywhere.

Bass_X0

#29

Bass_X0 said:

Just till the guy with the A button pressing patent sues everyone......

So that's Sony safe then.

C-Olimar

#30

C-Olimar said:

I think the patent was more about drawing lines for characters to follow rather than simply controlling them with the touchscreen. If so, Fruit Cart Yoshi must be sweating.

retro_player_22

#31

retro_player_22 said:

Sega must had never played Phantom Hourglass or Spirit Tracks, if they had they would have known that Izumo Eleven isn't the only one that control on-screen character with a finger or a pen.

MetalKingShield

#32

MetalKingShield said:

I just don't agree with their being patents for software or control systems. Although I used to like SEGA, I hope they are not successful with this.

Rect_Pola

#33

Rect_Pola said:

SEGA, WTF is wrong with you now? That's like acquiring a patent for a particular process of computing zeros and ones into a video game and suing you for developing the 2006 Sonic the hedgehog. That's just wro- well...

True_Hero

#35

True_Hero said:

I will not jump to conclusions or point fingers until I have some more information. This is a strange case indeed...

pariah164

#36

pariah164 said:

What the ever-loving hell, Sega? I mean, really? If you're going to sue Level-5 over that, you may as well sue any developer who has made a touch control game ever. Hope the judge sees this the same way and throws out the case.

Linkuini

#37

Linkuini said:

Didn't Nintendo have a patent on controlling the in-game camera with the c buttons back in the N64 days? I found that pretty absurd, too...

Windy

#38

Windy said:

Oh man this could mean delays for the Inazuma Eleven games :( But really a weird situation. If they owned the patents on "relating to the process of controlling on-screen characters with a finger or pen." Couldn't they be suing just about anyone?

DarkKirby

#40

DarkKirby said:

Look Sega, I'm looking forward to Phantasy Star Online 2, don't be a douche and make wild patent claims like some other companies.

AntiGuy

#41

AntiGuy said:

Oh, Sega, what other shenanigans are you capable of doing just to make a quick buck... please do tell me!

MagicEmperor

#42

MagicEmperor said:

I'm muddled. I didn't see this coming.
Edit: I'm glad I'm not the only one who wasn't impressed by Rhythm Thief. I don't hate it, but was inconsistent and kinda sloppy.

Emaan

#46

Emaan said:

This better not have too much of an impact on Level-5. They're not as big as Sega, and shouldn't be bullied >:[

spoonshiro

#50

spoonshiro said:

First rampant DMCAing of a fifteen year old RPG, and now this frivolous crap. Good job, Sega.

Zombie_Barioth

#54

Zombie_Barioth said:

I swear the way Sega is going these days makes me think they're just mad they're not industry juggernauts anymore.

I can see patenting a brand new control scheme like the c buttons/stick and suing over it, but whats so special about their alleged patented control method that makes them think they can get away with a law suite?

Banker-Style

#55

Banker-Style said:

When you aren't making much money,the only way to go is to sue another company which has done pretty well recently.

Schprocket

#56

Schprocket said:

Makes a change to be happening in Japan, though... this is usually the domain of US companies like Apple and Microsoft:
'... yeah that's right, we like totally patented this idea of doing stuff and we like call it "iNternet" so... ahh... like anyone that's not us, see, can like pay us squillions cos we got fancier lawyers and dumb patent approval'...

Life was simpler when we were lung-fish....

TheSonicdude97

#57

TheSonicdude97 said:

Maybe SEGA has a different reason for suing Level-5 then what we're hearing? I don't think they'd literally sue because of a touch screen method from another game, not even for money. I wouldn't ever stoop to that if I had a game company, at least. C'mon people, think common sense, not even SEGA would do it for that sole reason..... at least I would hope not.

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...