Mobile gaming under threat from patent lawsuit

Palm and Cybiko first on the hit list for patent infringement cases

A patent dating from 1995 appears to give a little known company called Peer-to-Peer Systems complete rights over any form of wireless multiplayer gaming - and the lawsuits are flying out to enforce this claim.

The company is currently engaged in litigation with Palm (over the ability of its PDAs to play games against each other over wireless networks) and Cybiko, a company which manufactures a hand-held game device with wireless multiplayer abilities.

The patent application was filed in 1995 and granted by the US patent office in 1997, and is incredibly general in terms of the ground it covers - effectively making it a violation of the patent to connect up any two devices over a wireless connection and play multiplayer games on them.

While Palm and Cybiko are relatively small players in the games business, one rather larger company is bound to be watching these court cases with great interest - namely Nokia, whose forthcoming N-Gage console features wireless multiplayer over Bluetooth or GPRS as a key selling point.

It's pretty unlikely that this patent will stop the ongoing march towards wireless multiplayer gaming - but it could certainly make the owners of Peer-To-Peer Systems somewhat unjustifiably rich.

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