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Controversy in Video Game Invention: The Infallible Pioneer Patents

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Graham MorganORCiD, Jonathan Lee



Of all the legal battles encountered in the video games industry to date, the “Pioneer Patents” associated with the Magnavox Odyssey – the first video game console -- have resulted in arguably the fiercest legal battles over the longest period of time. From the 1970s to the 1990s these patents proved insurmountable in a series of lawsuits. During this time, if you manufactured a computer game that ran on a console that plugged into a TV set then you could not ignore the legally-imposed market barriers erected by these patents. In particular, what has become known as the “‘507 patent” was used to force video game manufactures to buy costly sublicenses from Magnavox in order to operate legally. By focusing on the results of the early legal cases, this paper presents a description as to why the ‘507 patent held up so well and attempts to clarify, for the non-legal mind, why the ‘507 patent, together with related patents, embodied and directed the origin and initial development of video games as we know them today.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Morgan G, Lee JK

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title: School of Computing Science Technical Report Series

Year: 2009

Pages: 25

Print publication date: 01/10/2009

Source Publication Date: October 2009

Report Number: 1173

Institution: School of Computing Science, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Place Published: Newcastle upon Tyne