Sega is suing Level 5, claiming the Inazuma Eleven series is in violation of two of its patents.
That, like many patents, sounds impossibly broad, and could surely cover any number of Nintendo DS games – and smartphones too. However, at least one of the patents concerned specifically covers the control of a football game, as shown in the diagram below.
Worrying stuff: software patent cases rarely get as far as a courtroom, and given the spiteful tit-for-tat of the western patent wars it’s tempting to see this as more of a grudge match than anything else. Sega seeks damages of ¥900 million (£6.78m), a modest amount given Inazuma Eleven’s success in Japan, though it also wants a complete block on sales of all eight existing games in the series. At an initial hearing last Friday Level 5 confirmed it would be fighting the case.