Watch Out, OnLive Claims 'Fundamental' Patent on Cloud Gaming

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I hate patents. I don't hate talent, or genius, or inspiration, or the right to benefit from your ideas, or the hand-in-glove right to throw up a basic firewall against others waiting in the wings to cranks out knock-offs. I still hate patents, because they're often filed preemptively by cynical corporations with intent to execute on virtually none of them until someone else comes along, creates something uniquely cool, and, usually without knowing, falls afoul of the fine print in some dust-covered paper abstract.

So when I notice that games-on-demand celeb OnLive is crowing about a patent covering pretty much all of cloud-based video gaming, I get nervous.

Then again, this is OnLive CEO Steve Perlman, one of the tech industry's brighter bulbs, who, according to VentureBeat, has "never sued anyone for patent infringement."

USP 7,849,491 isn't just any patent, but one "fundamental" to cloud-gaming, according to Perlman, who filed it way back in December 2002.

The patent covers an "apparatus and method for wireless video gaming," including an interface slot, a game card that "outputs video game data" at upwards of 200 Mbps to a display device, and a wireless transceiver to send and receive game information to "a remote player" via a wireless local area network.

OnLive launched this summer, opted to remain free indefinitely in October (you simply pay for the games, not the service), and recently released a MicroConsole, which allows you to access the service's considerable catalogue of streaming video games through any HDMI-capable TV set.

Perlman told VentureBeat the patent is just one of hundreds OnLive's filed, implying the company has shrewdly and thoroughly covered its bases. I'm not sure what sort of clout Envisioneering Group enjoys, but one of its market analysts was willing to call OnLive's patent "landmark" because it's "based on real-world, not speculation as so many are."

OnLive's rivals include "next generation video game advertising network" Gaikai and "games, moves, and applications" streamer Otoy. It's unclear at this point how OnLive's patent affects them, but it's a safe bet the company has them on its radar.

Or vice versa.

You never know how this sort of thing's going to play out.

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