Austin Meyer, creator of the popular and ultra-realistic flight sim, X-Plane, is facing a potentially destructive lawsuit by an East Texas patent troll, Uniloc. Meyer, who has worked on the simulator since 1995, isn’t dealing with a claim against his simulator or the game mechanics within. Instead, he’s being sued for using a simple copy-protection system found in almost all Android programs.
You can read the whole story here but last September Meyer received word that he was being sued for failing to license a patent for “code for verifying the license data stored on the licensing medium by communicating with a registration authority having verification data.” Writes Meyer:
Speaking for Laminar Research, we used only the technology that was provided to us by Google for copy protection in our Android App ‘X-Plane’… we used exactly the copy protection Google gave us! And, of course, this is what Google provides to everyone else that is making a game for Android!
The creator of the original patent, Ric Richardson, wrote regarding the Minecraft lawsuit:
And yet, the technology in question is a system that stops people from pirating their software and helps them make money. Well if you think it’s so unfair, don’t use the tech. Do something else. No one is forcing you to use the technology.
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?”
Richardson claims to no longer be a principal at the company and is only a non-majority shareholder.
It’s painfully obvious that anyone using even the most basic of certificate-based copy protection may deal with Uniloc in the future. Whatever you think about patent trolls and their manifold evils, it will be a hard road for Meyer and his fellow litigants in fighting down this claim.