On January 10 2017, a Japanese mobile game company COLOPL announced that it got sued by Nintendo for patent infringement. Nintendo seeks JPY 4.4 billion (approximately $40 million) in damages and an injunction to stop operation of “Shiro Neko (White Cat) project” which is COLOPL’s most profitable smartphone game. Nintendo reportedly filed a lawsuit at Tokyo District Court on December 22 2017 after the negotiation for over a year since September 2016. This is the first time Nintendo has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in Japan. Nintendo alleges the COLOPL’s game infringes on Nintendo’s 5 patents relating to touch panel operation and other technologies.
Responding to this announcement, COLOPL’s stock price plummeted 22% at one point from the day before. It seems the stock market concerns about the impact on its performance, though COLOPL has boosted sales since 2014 when COLOPL released “Shiro Neko project”, and also has increased patent filing sharply with sales (See chart; Please note that all patent application filed in 2016 and beyond are not yet published.).
In a separate case, COLOPL signed its first patent cross-licensing agreement with another Japanese video game company CAPCOM for patents relating to multiplayer functionality in November 2017. CAPCOM is actively utilizing its patent portfolio. It also successfully signed a patent cross-licensing agreement with BANDAI NAMCO in June 2017, as previously reported in this blog. Japanese game companies might be beginning to be concerned about game of patents.