Infernal Technologies and Terminal Reality are suing Microsoft for patent infringement related to the use of the Infernal Engine.
The situation is rather complicated, but according to a report from GamesIndustry.biz, Infernal and Terminal claim that Microsoft infringed upon patents 6,362,822 and 7,061,488 related to the use of specific graphical lighting and shadowing methods in the Infernal Engine.
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While it seems that Microsoft was granted use of the Infernal Engine many years ago, the company started to tweak and manipulate it in ways that were seen as a violation of the original agreement and the patents filed by Infernal and Terminal. The parties claim that Microsoft is fully aware of the violations of these patents because Microsoft began filing patents of their own in 2005 related to the alteration of the technology covered by 822 and 488. The suit claims that games such as Halo 5, Gears of War 4, Sea of Thieves, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds all violated the terms of the patents.
This issue is complicated by an earlier suit filed by EA in regards to the same patent filings that Microsoft is accused of violating. EA tried to argue that the specific technological concepts outlined in patents 6,362,822 and 7,061,488 couldn’t fairly be filed under a patent. EA’s challenge was legally rejected, and they had to begin settlement proceedings. That does not bode well for Microsoft.
So what happens next? Well, that greatly depends on what the courts decide (if it happens to go that far). At the very least, Infernal and Terminal are seeking compensation and royalties of a currently undisclosed amount for Microsoft’s past violations.
What happens beyond that is very much up for debate. While it’s technically possible that a court could rule on this matter in such a way that compromises Microsoft’s ability to promote and publish affected games – and use the engine moving forward – the more likely conclusion is that the two sides will reach some kind of agreement in the form of a financial settlement.
That could be quite a few years away, but we will update you on this matter if more info becomes available.