Patents are useful for protecting intellectual property but there are many ways that companies can get around them. In the online gambling industry, patents can be used to protect some elements but others can be easily replicated without consequence.
Piracy is a huge issue for many developers at the moment, as others can knock off their games. By changing just a few elements, they can effectively use the same features and theme under a different name. Fairy tale themed games, such as the Little Red Riding Hood slot, use characters that are in the public domain so many elements can be copied easily by other developers.
Even original characters can be changed just enough to make them unique to a new game. There are many elements of the Jungle Jim slot and Gonzo’s Quest slot which have similar origins. They’re both explorers, many of the features are the same in both games and they’re instantly recognisable as similar. There may not be a case here for the original developer though, as it would be tricky to prove that it is a knock off.
We’ve seen issues in the past with cross country litigation, as countries like China have much more relaxed rules regarding copyright. Concepts are also hard to patent, like no lose bingo games or special deposit bonuses.
In this case, a company that innovates a process can’t patent it as it will simply reappear under a different name. Many smaller PayPal bingo sites don’t have the funds needed to launch a battle with another, larger site that may be guilty of using their ideas for inspiration. Even the concept of PayPal bingo can’t be protected and has been replicated all over the internet. ( read more )
Patent trolls have been going after some of the larger providers for their fix too. These people or organisations file frivolous lawsuits in the hope that they will be paid out. While this may seem like a silly strategy, the brute force volume of patents means that they can recoup their losses and get into profit. The sad reality is that many companies have to pay out or deplete their funds with legal battles.
They attempt to patent the smallest processes that they can, then use these to hold a company ransom until they settle. The tech sector is particularly vulnerable to these types of attack, as their processes are fertile ground for this kind of exploitation. The subset of gambling online is included in this vulnerability, as the average user and operator complete hundreds of unique processes regularly.
Patents can be used effectively in this industry, though there are more ways that operators must protect themselves. Players will notice that the same types of games and processes can be copied across the board, with varying degrees of success.
The best thing to do when playing is going to the original or source version of the games, as these are usually the best. You’ll also want to make sure that the site you’re playing on is above board and fair, you can even use PayPal for some extra fraud protection too.