Patent troll jumps on Minecraft

Patent troll Uniloc has set its sites on taking the makers of the the indie software outfit Minecraft to the cleaners.

According to Boing Boing,  Uniloc claims Minecraft infringes a patent it holds on copy protection software.

It looks like the outfit just thought its initial threat might be enough to strike fear in the heart of the company. It did not even bother to spell the name of the game, calling it “Mindcraft”.

Developer Markus “Notch” Persson has already vowed not to give in. He said that unfortunately for Uniloc it is suing us over a software patent.

He said that he will throw piles of money at making sure they don’t get a cent.

Uniloc’s patent was awarded in 2005 and describes a system for “preventing unauthorised access to electronic data” which involves communication between a portable device and a licence registration authority.

Uniloc claims that this patent gives it rights to software that verifies licensing on Android.

It said that Mojang is directly infringing one or more claims of the ‘067 patent by “making, using, offering for sale, selling and/or importing Android based applications for use on cellular phones and/or tablet devices that require communication with a server to perform a license check to prevent the unauthorised use of said application, including, but not limited to, Mindcraft.”

Notch points out that Minecraft does not perform licence checks in the manner described by the patent.

But he generally thinks that software patents are plain evil and were slowing down development within the software industry.

Although it is based in Luxembourg and Mojang is in Sweden, Uniloc filed the claim in Texas. This is because Texas is famous for awarding cases to plaintiffs in patent infringement cases because jurors want to get back to roping doggies or some other similar rural persuits.

Uniloc has gunned for Microsoft before. Its standard tactics are to demand royalties, damages and interest and then come in with a settlement offer. Uniloc claims to have extracted settlements from about a third of the companies it targets.