The founder of Uniloc, the company which is suing Minecraft developer Mojang for patent infringement, has defended the lawsuit and denied that his company is a “patent troll”.
Over the weekend, Markus "Notch" Persson announced via Twitter that his company was being sued for alleged patent infringement in the development of the Android version of Minecraft. The suit centers around the game's use of a certain form of copy protection.
Uniloc claims that Mojang has breached patent law "by or through 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 unauthorized use of said application, including, but not limited to, Mindcraft [sic]".
Although he wasn’t involved with the suit, Uniloc's Ric Richardson responded to emails from Minecraft fans regarding the squabble.
“Well I'm sorry if you don't think its right to protect yourself. I think it's irresponsible to involve others in an enterprise when you don't do everything you reasonably can to protect their interests as well as your own,” he said.
“Just think about the logic here. The people complaining about the law suits here are complaining that a company is trying to protect it’s own right to make a living from a technology that the patent office has verified as unique and novel. If you disagree then track the patent office and voice your problems with the patents as they are published.”
Richardson went on to say that he was not a patent troll, but rather that he was the inventor of a related patent, that he worked nearly two decades on perfecting that technology, and that he was not a "money hungry megalomaniac".
“It amazes me that people complain about paying a royalty for a technology that stops up to a third of a software companies sales from being lost to piracy. What are you saying? ‘Its all right to steal from Uniloc as long as it helps stop pirates stealing from me?’”
Persson also had a few things to say regarding to suit, and took to his personal blog to do so.
"Unfortunately for them, they're suing us over a software patent. If needed, I will throw piles of money at making sure they don't get a cent," he wrote.
"I am fine with the concept of 'owning stuff', so I'm against theft... I am mostly fine with the concept of 'selling stuff you made', so I'm also against copyright infringement... But there is no way in hell you can convince me that it's beneficial for society to not share ideas. Ideas are free. They improve on old things, make them better, and this results in all of society being better. Sharing ideas is how we improve."
Notch branded the practice of patenting software, "just plain evil", “trivial” and “counterproductive”.
"A common argument for patents is that inventors won't invent unless they can protect their ideas. The problem with this argument is that patents apply even if the infringer came up with the idea independently. If the idea is that easy to think of, why do we need to reward the person who happened to be first?"
"If you own a software patent, you should feel bad," he concluded.
Uniloc is also filing claims against Halfbrick, the studio behind Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, Gameloft, Square Enix, X-Plane creator Laminar Research, and Electronic Arts.
In August 2010, it accused Activision and Sony, among others, of creating rival DRM technology based on its patents.