Defending blockchain innovation and the entire gaming community
At Forte, we believe in a few simple but powerful ideals. We care deeply about games and the gaming experience. We believe the blockchain space is early and its success will depend on the community acting collaboratively for the greater good. We believe that blockchain applications can improve the gaming experience, which is why we are building a decentralized platform that’s nurtured by the gaming community and for the gaming community.
Our values compel us to stand up against actions that undermine a level playing field and thwart innovation and fair competition in this newly emerging field. To that end, we have taken action against a recently granted patent which we believe is invalid and could stifle innovation across the entire blockchain gaming industry.
A necessary step to protect the entire gaming community
This week, we filed a petition for a Post-Grant Review of Pocketful of Quarters’ Patent №11,189,131 B1 (“the ‘131 patent”) with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board seeking to invalidate the ‘131 patent — a patent we believe should never have been granted in the first place. We also filed for a Declaratory Judgment in Federal Court in relation to the ‘131 patent. We believe these combined steps are in the best interests of the community, and our collective ability to innovate.
This is the first time we’ve taken an action like this in our history, and we were reluctant to turn to litigation. However, given recent public comments by a senior Pocketful of Quarters executive suggesting the ‘131 patent covers basic blockchain gaming operations already deployed by many publishers and providers, we believe the risk to the community is real and therefore demands immediate intervention.
No one should have control or monopoly over common practices or ideas
- The ‘131 patent seeks to secure monopoly rights over an idea that is already commonplace within the gaming community (and has been for a long time, by blockchain standards): exchanging currency for a token that can only hold value within a game. In the patent world, this is referred to as an “abstract idea,” something that is not patentable according to U.S. law and rulings of the Supreme Court. There’s a good reason for this — no one should have control over common practices or ideas, like being able to conduct basic transactions online or in a game.
- The patent is invalid because it lacks the requisite of innovative, technological improvements and instead relies on obvious and anticipated uses of existing technologies, including blockchains and smart contracts. We believe this is why Pocketful of Quarters’ application for a comparable international patent under the Patent Cooperation Treaty was rejected.
- The patent is unenforceable. The materials we provided to the U.S. Patent Office included materials that appear to have been improperly withheld from the Patent Office to date. Withholding information of this sort is known as “inequitable conduct,” and, legally, this alone is grounds to render unenforceable the ‘131 patent. It is critical to a fair and equitable patent system that patents applicants disclose all relevant information about prior art, so that the patent office can conduct a full and fair review
Continued commitment to an equitable ecosystem
Forte was founded on the belief that the key to Web3 is an equitable ecosystem where all parties (game developers and publishers, players, platform creators, DAOs, service providers, creators, and everyone in the community) have a stake in developing and sharing in the benefits of blockchain gaming. This equity will come only if we have openness in innovation, and that means not fencing off broad, obvious, or already extant ideas from being developed or widely used in the ecosystem.