Notch donates $250k to patent reform project

Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban give $250,000 each for initiative aimed at reforming software patents.

Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson has donated $250,000 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation's "Defend Innovation" initiative aimed at protecting innovation and reforming software patents, the organization has announced. A matching contribution was also provided by billionaire entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for a total of $500,000.

The EFF did not announce a specific plan for Persson's donation. Instead, the organization said the game maker's money "cements EFF's ability to tackle the systemic problems with software patents."

"Temporary fixes aren't good enough--we need deep and meaningful reform to protect software development and keep it as free and democratic as possible," Persson said in a statement. "New games and other technological tools come from improving on old things and making them better--an iterative process that the current patent environment could shut down entirely. This is a dangerous path we're on, and I'm glad to help EFF move us in the right direction."

The organization was more specific with Cuban's donation, saying it will go towards funding the hire of a new attorney--Daniel Nazar--who is experienced in patent reform and "high-profile patent" litigation. Nazer will join the EFF in January as a Staff Attorney.

The EFF's Defend Innovation project promotes seven fixes for America's patent system. These include shortening the term for software patents, allowing victorious parties in litigation to be reimbursed for fees, and protecting inventors who "independently arrive at a patented idea."

Persson has long been outspoken regarding his disdain for software patents. In a blog entry this summer, he said software patents are counterproductive, evil, and costly, further noting that "if you own a software patent, you should feel bad."

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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4 comments
tgwolf
tgwolf

After that incident in CT, they REALLY shouldn't post that particular photo of the guy, that is going to scare kids away from this website and possibly gaming forever...

Elann2008
Elann2008

Probably tax deduction.  I don't think Notch has that kind of money to throw around.  Sure, Minecraft has sold millions by now, and his cut is still in the small millions.  Mark Cuban, yeah, HE can throw money around.  He's wealthy.  Notch is just rich, for now.

Meta-Gnostic
Meta-Gnostic

This guy throws money around like it's candy.

Brishon1
Brishon1

Notch donates $250k deduction from his taxes.

psuedospike
psuedospike

250k out of his current Scrooge McDuck moneypit equaling 10 bazillion dollars.

SavageEvil
SavageEvil

I'm all for this, the USPTO is a hot mess and well it's actually changing right now but we need clearer stipulations. Apple just had a few of it's big patents invalidated because of various reasons like already being a patent for it and being to vague to make sense. Reform needs to take place so companies do not take advantage of the system like they have been doing, especially those with lots of money. Look up all the patent cases going on now in the tech world, lots of them have Apple at the center suing another company for some obscure patent they hold and mind you were just awarded in the last 10 years.

We need a massive overhaul, ideas cannot be patented only a working prototype of said idea, patent language needs to be specific and broad to encompass anything that might come close to your product(Apple has a lot of these vaguely worded patents), If you hold a patent and you don't actually do something with it in 5 years you must reapply and bring a working prototype along with reasons why you haven't used it and not just sitting on it to be a patent troll. Force these people to do something with the patent and not just sit on it like a troll waiting for someone to come along and want to use the patent and do something with it but you want your cut because you came up with the idea first, but did nothing with it. You're not innovating, you're just waiting for someone else to make something of it and  want to cash in on it, that's a bad and disruptive thing to do.

bloody-hell
bloody-hell

When I see these constant articles about "Notch" spending hundreds of thousands here, tens of thousands there, then I can't help but think that Minecraft is sold overprice.

Then again, he deserves to swim in money because he made a very entertaining and enjoyable game.

 

Merry Christmassssssssss *BOOM*, Mr. Persson.

Dradeeus
Dradeeus

Usually when I hear the word "reform", I cynically grimace, as it's usually a code word to make screwing "the little guy" over sound nice and reasonable. It seems these are the actually "good" types of reforms, though. I'd have to hear more information, but they sound reasonable. I remain cynical, however, because I know lawmakers, and the corporations that like the status quo can make a $250,000 donation look measly.

carolino
carolino

he donates and gamespot cuts his face in a half :/

 

grin89
grin89

has the world ended yet?

dkdk999
dkdk999

The idea that we need intellectual property is rediculous. I mean do people seriously think it enhances the quality of games ? Games that are high quality would get the most money regardless weither it's legal to download or not.

Zloth2
Zloth2

Sounds good.  I think I would actually call this tweaking of the existing patent law instead of deep reform but even a tweak to those laws can shift billions of dollars.

drgribb
drgribb

This is great news!  I surely support the EFF in all that they do, especially with regard to patent/copyright reform.  DMCA is outdated and needs to be fixed.

Golden_Gonads
Golden_Gonads

There are too many patents for 'Software that does "stuff" ' around that need sorting out.  But detailed, precise patents, are fine as is...  Though revoking them if not used within a set time-frame would be a nice idea.

SolidTy
SolidTy

I like that this effort is being made...BUT, the other side seems to have countless resources on preventing any change at all. Still, while I noticed that Notch can't stay out of the Gamespot.com headlines, this news is pretty decent.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

Disdain is going too far, but I am glad to see Notch's disdain channeled to more reformative efforts.

Sefrix
Sefrix moderator

It's pathetic that someone who is not from America has to donate to help fix a problem in America. That being said, I really hope we do see some change in the system.

blutosan
blutosan

Are video game companies being sued a lot for patent infringement?  I haven't noticed many lawsuits based on video games or game development companies in the news.  Most of the patent infringement lawsuits based on software seem to be focused on the technology that surrounds video games like operating systems and file formats.   They tend to be bigger than games for the most part.

Wastlander3000
Wastlander3000

Top qualities of a gentleman, he has the money and he knows what to do with it, for that I salute you sir.

TJSpyke
TJSpyke

In other words: "let us steal the ideas OTHER people came up with because we aren't smart enough to do so". People get patents for ideas they come up with, so either license it from them or create your own idea. Notch is an idiot, always has been.

CyhortI82
CyhortI82

''and protecting inventors who "independently arrive at a patented idea."

 

Um....this is a horrible idea. You do realize that if this was a thing anyone could make a knock off windows and claim they came up with it independently, right? Patents exist for a reason, so people who actually create something get the proper recognition and compensation. Getting rid of patents wouldn't bring in some great, collective utopia of sharing ideas and making things better for all mankind or whatever, it'll make people stop inventing new software because they're not gonna get paid. Need spurs innovation and since we don't have a world war or a space program, the only big need we have is being better than the competition. Get rid of patents and there's no competition so why the hell would anyone bother trying to innovate?

DrKill09
DrKill09

Why don't you use that money to go back to school and learn how to make a proper game with decent visuals, good ai, and an actual goal instead of an ugly, boring, pointless, grind-filled sandbox.

zaboon_
zaboon_

I appreciate this from both Notch and Mark. Software patents (not only in the gaming industry) sure is dangerous. Mostly because it hinders innovation and evolution in technology, but also because it doesn't make much sense.

GothikaGeist
GothikaGeist

 @SavageEvil Thanks for explaining this! :D I've been on the EFF's mailing list for awhile and never really understood the whole Software Patent issue.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

 @dkdk999 Without *any* form of patenting, games would not be an industry. Game development could only really exist as a hobby. I'm not saying I like the way patent laws work, but if we're to be a capitalist society, some form of patent law is definitely necessary.

Geminon
Geminon

 @Sefrix 

 

there are copyright laws in countries other than america? what nonsense is this?

Sir_Hobo
Sir_Hobo

 @blutosan There's actually a big one going on right now with Sega suing Level-5 over how they use the DS touch screen in some of their games, saying that it infringes even though the first of that series came out before the patent was created.

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

 @TJSpyke Technology allows for new abilities in games, new expressions and interactions, that were unable to do in previous consoles/PC. 

 

THUS, its not like someone out of the blue has an epiphany that could have been done before but was not.  It is more so that previous tech, cover systems, slow motion, fighting and shooting, car jacking .... were not possible.  

 

Thus, once a feature is possible then its the first one to utilize such a feature that gets the patent even though many other developers could be working on the same system just not turn it in first. 

 

And not its big business. people thinking ahead to what will be the next big idea, and system in games, come up with a huge number of ideas and summit for patent.  Other developers will come up with the same idea and have to pay for this idea even though they did not copy it.  

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

 @TJSpyke Are you saying you don't have a problem with the current patent system, therefore you see no reason to change it? Then until you encounter a problem, your opinion is unlikely to be changed by any argument. That opinion is also irrelevant to public discussion except as one vote in a democratic referendum.

 

If you feel the EFF's proposed fixes are not beneficial to either IP protection in general or any of EFF's stated goals, then you are right to speak up. It would help if you described exactly what problems you have with either the EFF's goals or the EFF's fixes.

X-RS
X-RS

 @TJSpyke

LOL!!! As if MC hasn't been ripped by hundreds of other companies XD

I don't think you fully get the point.

Sekhemket
Sekhemket

 @TJSpyke Look up the term Patent troll, then you will get a good idea what this is about. 

Unholy123
Unholy123

 @TJSpyke Sigh... really? I don't understand if you've just got a hate-on for Notch or simply don't understand the article or perhaps its both.

 

But I shall attempt to clarify.

 

No ones saying your should be allowed to steal others work (Copyright protection still completely in place) and infact all they are trying to do is CHANGE the patent system so it would be harder to get patents if your not really inventing anything and simply doing something obvious with an existing technology (Like trying to get a patent for software for movements on a touchscreen technology which is in reality a simple obvious step forward that many people would come to independently while working with the touchscreen hardware), allow people who get falsely charged with patent infringement to be reimbursed by the loser of that case (so big company's can't use it to squash competition with legal fees through frivolous lawsuits) and to shorten the length of software patents so people cannot simply horde them to deny competition.

zaboon_
zaboon_

 @TJSpyke No. You cannot get a patent for an idea. And how do you "create" an idea? Talk about pot calling the kettle black, with that "idiot" insult.

Saketume
Saketume

 @CyhortI82 I'll try not to make this a discussion of how much windows is a stolen idea and how even simple things like color graphics is a patent infringement.

 

Instead I'd like to talk about how (at least this is what I've read on the web) copyrights used to for a limited amount of time. I think it was 4 years. Anyway it's not important. The point is it should be a short limited time cause it makes sense. The idea was to give the creator some time to make money on his idea and then go on to create new stuff. To promote innovation and creation.

 

With copyrights lasting for more than a lifetime and children living off of money from their grandparents copyrighted songs etc. Things went out of hand. There's no point in creating new things. It also prevents others from benefiting from your discoveries.

 

I realize you're not talking about copyright but more of patents but to me they're pretty much the same thing.

 

There are also other problems with patents and copyrights today. Big rich companies can infringe all they want and then spend a fraction of the money earned on lawyers instead.

 

Look up the case of "Håkan Lans" and you'll see what I mean.

 

Big companies like Disney make animated toons out of old stories made before copyright became law but still sue if you infringe on their movies. Suddenly it's THEIR stories huh. Apple is doing the same thing of course (claiming they invented everything). And microsoft has always been doing that. Windows really wasn't their idea, you know.

 

Just be lucky things we take for granted in any OS, such as scroll bars and movable windows, isn't patented. Competition is needed.

Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

 @CyhortI82 "Getting rid of patents wouldn't bring in some great, collective utopia of sharing ideas and making things better for all mankind or whatever..."

Linux is just begining and people do work for much of nothing for the betterment of mankind.  Just because not EVERYONE will not continue working on advancement does not mean that those that do will not bring about the same results!  LOOK at MODS of many games they do not get paid and yet there are HUGE NUMBERS of mods out there of many games.  IN FACT it makes computer games BETTER on PC than on CONSOLES!!!!!!!!!!!! 

 

"it'll make people stop inventing new software because they're not gonna get paid"  

... yet again people do not stop in many ways with the Open form!!!! People continue DESPITE the road blocks that are in front of them. People continue to make improvements in many ways to many programs out there and if its good enough then they may get hired or their idea MAY get implemented, though many times any idea that takes away from companies making money great or not get shutdown!!!!!!!!!!

 

"Get rid of patents and there's no competition so why the hell would anyone bother trying to innovate?"

Because its human desire to make things better, to move forward. IF not we would still be living in the middle ages. In the global world that we live in there are PLENTY of people who are out there in the invention business, on all fronts. TAKE away patents and many will stop but many will take their place FREE from STIFFING, INTERFERING, and LAW suites, more people will be unshackled to push the boundaries of new technology built on-top of older tech.  

Unholy123
Unholy123

 @CyhortI82 I think your mistaking Copyright Protection and Patents. If you made a knock off of windows and the code was the same you'd get sued for Copyright infringement + other charges, but a Patent is for an Invention which brings up if it was an inventive step and non-obviousness into whether or not its eligible to be Patented and different countrys handle this differently with the US being sorta notoriously the easiest to get a software patent and most would agree change there is needed.

zaboon_
zaboon_

 @CyhortI82 Where do they say then want patents to be gone? And you seem to be forgetting that this is only regarding software patents. Not any other form of patent. 

Saketume
Saketume

 @DrKill09 Why don't you make a better game. Seems you learned it in school and all.

 

It's cute how you think he tried to make the graphics realistic and failed though.

TJSpyke
TJSpyke

 @zaboon_ No it is not dangerous. It stops uncreative people from just stealing the ideas of other people because they are too lazy and stupid to come up with their own ideas.

 

Sefrix
Sefrix moderator

 @sgt_F79 oh there's nothing wrong with a little help, but I find it sad that everyone knows the system is messed up yet instead of doing anything about it nothing happens and a foreigner ends up picking up our slack. That being said, I'm very glad that he has and I hope it helps.

 

 @Geminon I don't really understand your comment as it has nothing to do with the article or my comment. Both the article and my comment are specifically talking about the American patent laws.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

 @Unholy123  @TJSpyke I only want to point out one thing. Just because a big company sues a smaller company and loses, it doesn't automatically make the lawsuit frivolous. Some no doubt are, with the specific intention of inflicting financial burden on the defendant; others are legitimate grievances. I think it's up to the legal system to dismiss frivolous lawsuits instead of categorically force the loser to pay the winner's legal fees.

blackace
blackace

 @zaboon_  @TJSpyke 

No, but you can patent the product from that idea. Popular game series are patented so others don't try to steal their ideas and create something similar. How many closes of Pac-Man, Tetris and Asteroid were there? A lot!! Many developers try to use similar ideas from popular games thinking they can make huge money from off of someone else's ideas. This happens in film, TV and music as well.

Saketume
Saketume

 @Ravenlore_basic  @CyhortI82 Indeed. The Amiga computer used to have a healthy community of freeware and shareware programmers. It was very nice for everyone. Then the Commodore bosses stole all the company money and ran ...but that's another story.

 

There's a decent amount of freeware and shareware for PC too though. It's not like people stop being creative cause they don't have a monopoly on their idea. Multiple choices of the same type of program is healthy.

 

Most importantly is that it is very possible to still get payed for something even if others have access to the same idea.

Just ask Black & Decker why people buy their tools even though there are cheaper ones.

 

Although maybe someone should patent the FPS game mechanics and sue everyone who tries to make a new FPS ;D

Saketume
Saketume

 @TJSpyke  @zaboon_ Why should everyone have to reinvent the wheel? The whole idea of having a society is to share knowledge and help each other.

Unholy123
Unholy123

 @Unfallen_Satan  Your right Not all of them are and I never said that they all are, but it a legal business tactic that you can bury your competition in legal fee's by filing multiple patent infringements cases that even after they've successfully defended themselves they end up drained and out of business from legal fees so they can use the threat of these cases even when they are clearly not patent infringements to keep competition away and its not right because if your in the right and the other side has pushed for these multiple cases they should end up having to reimburse you for your legal fees as they filed for these.