If Mojang and Markus "Notch" Persson, the creator of Minecraft, end up down at a courthouse in east Texas, they'll probably see some familiar faces. Hell, it might be enough for a quorum of the Game Developers Conference.
This morning, Notch tweeted that he awakened and discovered he'd been sued for patent infringement. And while he expressed confidence that this was nothing more than a money-grab, he later railed against software patents, calling them "evil".
Mojang isn't the only target of plaintiff Uniloc, which also filed claims yesterday against Halfbrick, the makers of Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride; Gameloft, an enormous publisher of mobile titles; Square Enix, the publishers of Final Fantasy and Hitman; Laminar Research, creators of the X-Plane flight simulator and Electronic Arts, who brought you Need for Speed: The Run.
The fact these claims also were filed in East Texas, one of the friendliest federal districts for patent troll claims, also indicates this is a big celebrity shakedown. The patent in question was issued in 2005. It is for "a system and method ... for preventing unauthorised access to electronic data stored on an electronic device."
"Software patents are plain evil," Notch ranted. "Innovation within software is basically free, and it's growing incredibly rapid. Patents only slow it down."
Patent trolls exist because it's often cheaper to settle these claims than to litigate them. Notch considers it would be money well spent. "If needed, I will throw piles of money at making sure they don't get a cent," he vowed.