Sega Suing Level-5 For $11 Million, Says Inazuma Eleven Infringes Two Patents

By Spencer . December 11, 2012 . 12:15am

image Sega filed a lawsuit against Level-5 and their popular soccer RPG series, Inazuma Eleven. Yomiuri Shimbun reports the lawsuit is for 900 hundred million yen ($11 million) and to stop sales of eight Inazuma Eleven titles.


The reason for the suit is the way you control characters using the fingertip or stylus and touch screen infringes on two patents owned by Sega. Sega says the eight games in the Inazuma Eleven series sold more three million units and Level-5 owes more than 900 million in royalties.


While none of the games were released in North America, Inazuma Eleven has been a huge hit for Level-5 that spun off into an anime series and manga. The patents in question and how they compare to Inazuma Eleven’s control system were not explained.


Level-5 told the Yomiuri Online said they can’t comment further about the suit, but are prepared to refute Sega’s claims.

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  • Crevox

    epic picture

  • The patent is mightier than the sword, even in Japan.

  • The image on this article is hilarious. XD

  • What the fuck is SEGA thinking?

    • Whoomp
    • Jeremy Barnes

      It’s pretty obvious they finally realized they suck at making games now and have embraced being a patent troll against companies making good games.

    • ronin4life

      They have little money and are heading toward financial ruin.
      See: silicon knights v epic studios.

    • FFmax

      They need that money I guess.

  • omeganeko

    I can never unsee that picture now lol. I really hope they don’t have to stop selling the inazuma games.

  • anthony apduhan

    What’s next?! Crapcom will sue Level-5 next for oh I don’t know… Matsukaze Tenma looking like Megaman?!

  • landlock

    SEGA needs the money.

    • Splash (눈‸눈)

      If they “need” the money, they should do it by putting out better products, instead of exploiting patent law to take down competing companies for petty reasons.

      • landlock

        Why so serious?

      • AnimeRemix

        “they should do it by putting out better products”

        More like advertise their products better….

        • ABEzilla116

          No, better products. Up until Sonic Generations, everything else has been pretty damn mediocre.

          • AnimeRemix

            Curious, but what all games that SEGA has released has come off as mediocre in your opinion? Also, naming games that aren’t Sonic games would be nice. :V

          • LynxAmali

            Infinite Space was NOT mediocre. If anything, the game was held back by being on the system it was on.

          • Elvick

            Was Sega even involved with the development? I know it was Platinum Games and some other co-developer I forgot the name of.

            And Sega’s been doing great in supporting new IPs from Platinum Games. Despite the lackluster sales for everything but Bayonetta.

            Shame Sega does stupid things, because they do good things too.

      • hhog

        Protecting patents is a legitimate business, companies do it all the time. You wanna know the reason why Nintendo’s the only company to use the Plus-shaped D-pad? Patents.
        Why Namco games are the only ones that ever had small minigames during loading screens? Patents.
        It’s not “exploiting” patent law to “take down” a company. It’s protecting an idea they paid money for to have patented.

  • Ksanter X

    Breathing is still free or someone has a patent for this?

  • puchinri

    Given that it’s something they’ve just now decided to do, that sounds incredibly silly and BS-y.

    Also, isn’t lawyer costs going to just take money out of them? Did they really believe they’d have a case? Nonetheless, I hope all goes well for Level-5. But, supposing they did (deliberately) infringe on something, I hope all goes accordingly for all parties involved.

    • malek86

      Generally, suing can be done as a scare tactic (ie. trying to get a monetary agreement before it goes to court) to make a quick buck, or else if you think you have at least a somewhat solid case, since I’m pretty sure the losing part has to pay for the legal expenses.

      And some other times you sue because you are desperate and hold some hope, I guess. That’s probably what happened with Silicon Knights and Epic.

      • puchinri

        I was considering that, since my boyfriend’s company is going through something similar, but I assumed most anything outside of “can you look over this contract for me” meant fees? Hence why it’s usually stupid to even scare tactic someone unless you’re sure you have a chance. (Then again, I don’t remember most my law learnings as well, nor do I know how that could go differently internationally or just in Japan.)

        Probably is desperation here too, but it seems like such a ridiculous shot at it. I can’t think of what asinine reasoning they gave themselves to try this now (given all the years IE has been out) and for so much money.

        • malek86

          Hard to say. Aside from some university studying, I don’t know that much about law, nevermind foreign ones.

          That said, we don’t often see japanese companies suing each other (unlike western ones), so the rarity of the occasion makes me think Sega has at least some legal ground on this. The time passed doesn’t really mean much because this stuff is always slow – I remember Immersion didn’t sue MS and Sony (and actually manage to settle favorably with MS and win against Sony) for their rumble feedback technology until 2002, while the patent was filed some years before…

          Anyway, that doesn’t mean anything. Given how justice and patent systems usually work around the world, they could lose even if they were right, or win even if they were wrong. Eh…

          • puchinri

            Yeah, same.

            I was thinking that. I don’t know if they have any, but if so, it should be good. To me, the time looks bad because it seems like they didn’t bother voicing any complaint until now (nor did they say anything L-5 before now, it seems) and it feels like they just waited for them to accumulate wealth. (Which digs into the desperation).

            That’s also true. Given how I know practically nothing on Japanese law, I don’t know how up in the air it is. I guess it’s just a wait and see situation.

  • Syn

    Wow, next EA will be suing Konami for having a game in which players can turn 360 degrees with the left stick……… Seriously though, arent all of the DS touchscreen patents under Ninty?? You cant sue someone for using a single pen in a certain way, that sounds kinda ridiculous to me….. But hey, what do I know.

  • Shuryou

    Obviously they’re trying to get Inazuma Eleven out of the picture in order to release their new original game Sonic Soccer.

  • komiko12

    Sega better have a strong evidence to support their claim because if Level 5 decides to fight back and successfully defended Inazuma 11, Sega would be the one who will be put to shame.

    • ZEROthefirst

      “Level 5 successfully defends their case, and decides to countersue Sega… but what’s that!? Sega isn’t performing so well these days? Well that can’t possibly be tru- wai- Ok…maybe.”

  • natchu96

    I can’t think of how many games that have “stick finger on touch screen” movement . . .

    What else are you to use the screen for other than as an extra set of buttons?

  • I hate sega now even more!!!!!!! acting like that, LEVEL 5 is a much better company than Sega and they are going up really fast, I hope they lose this and LEVEL 5 will get them back. Sega lost their touch long ago and….they are @#$%^&^&&**(((!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! man I really hate them @#%%^$#@$!!!!!!!! case or no case i do not care sega look more into their games and try to improve it and make games (Shenmu) that fans actually want!

    • neocatzon

      got it got it, point taken. Just control the hate, somehow I cant read this without swearing and screaming in my head.

      • Sorry about that usually am a very peaceful guy, but from all the companies out there Sega (am i was a VERY big fan of them) started and still are failing and failing and failing……………

  • Yuriangels

    Wow Sega, now thats a low blow even for you guys. ):

  • XiaomuArisu

    So Sega has a patent for moving characters with the finger?
    Nintendo should sue sega.Because they have a patent on jumping characters.

    • Model_M

      Clearly you know nothing about patents…

      • ABEzilla116

        There’s this thing called a joke…

        • KyokoSasegawa

          Is it patented?

      • XiaomuArisu

        what ABEzilla116 said.
        Just a joke. ;)

  • Göran Isacson

    I now want to see Phoenix serve Sonic with a mighty subpoena for ANY kind of evidence that this is not just a desperate ploy for cash. Because seriously, this is pretty slimy.

  • TiredOfMyOldUsername

    So… it took Sega almost 5 years since the first Inazuma Eleven was released to realise that ???

  • grevlinghore

    What time is it?
    It`s time to be a dick!

    Imagine what Nintendo could do if they`d go out and sue everyone who ever copied their concepts! They`d have monopoly on the gaming industry in no time!

    • ShawnOtakuSomething

      sony would be doomed :{

    • Jeremy Barnes

      Nintendo is already pretty litigious.

      • Yeah, but over their characters and brands, not their game mechanics.

    • hhog

      Hey, take a wild guess why no Non-Nintendo game system in the 90’s ever used the Cross-shaped D-pad.

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    Sega just wanted some money for there new System or Sonic All-star Soccer

  • KingGunblader


  • Freud_Hater

    Hoho, I think someone is starting to run out of money. For shame, Sega. Come on.

  • riceisnice

    Don’t underestimate how freakishly popular Inazuma Eleven is in Japan. If Sega somehow does succeed, all of Japan’s gonna start carrying pitchforks and torches.

  • Josh Strange

    Sega would do anything to get more money, geez. i guess the world really is ending in 2012.

    • AnimeRemix

      Well, seeing how SEGA is currently having financial problems, I wouldn’t be surprised if they would do whatever they can to get more money to help them out…

  • Sega are being real dicks lately, aren’t they.

  • Not cool Sega…. You’re becoming Apple. Don’t sue to compete.

  • Are they really allowed to sue after EIGHT games were released over the course of like a decade? Isn’t there a timeframe of liability here, where once they

    • Luis Quintanilla ♠

      Actually, it’s only been 3 years since the first Inazuma Eleven Appeared LOL

      • puchinri

        True, but that’s still quite some time and after quite a number of games. x’D

  • Hiro Oozora

    Mannn Sega just jelly Level 5 is more awesome that them. At least Level tries to localize everything they make

  • Sergio Briceño

    I thought Apple holded the patent over ridiculous lawsuits. They need to sue fast!

  • CirnoLakes

    This is not going to help SEGA’s poor image right now. At all.

    • grevlinghore

      Yeah. And it`s not like they themselves didn`t just release a game that`s essentially a mix of Mario Kart, F-Zero and Diddy Kong Racing. You don`t see Nintendo suing them for that though! Nor are they taking any action towards this “Play Station All-Stars”, which they probably could have done if they wanted to :p
      Seems like a complete dick move from SEGA, to say the least ;)

  • Nitraion

    I confused what sega sue any way?? *_*
    moving character with finger?

  • MPHavoc

    Oh Sega, you’ve dug quite a steep hole for yourselves.

    I mean, I love you guys, seriously I do, but this is not only a jackass move but a stupid one. You will not win this, and it will also damage your reputation in the process.

  • WTF is wrong with Sega??????

    Sega are mega jelous and want Inazuma Eleven out of the way. They suck sooo much, they’re just pissed because Sonic Generations was shit and Inazuma Eleven has done sooo well.

    Sega by making this shitty accusation you have destroyed your own name!!!!!!!!!!
    I hope the company dies after this and Level-5 will win the case and take down Sega!!!!
    Inazuma Eleven Forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ladius

    Those patents sounds so generic they could sue dozens of teams who developed on DS and 3DS, not to mention smartphones and Vita. Not only that, but Inazuma Eleven has been on the market since years ago and has been extremely popular in Japan, why have they discovered only now that L5 is infringing on whatever generic patents they registered?
    And why only Inazuma Eleven, at that? Maybe because they feel they won’t risk much by making an enemy out of L5, when going against other companies could be more problematic?

    Between this move and the anti-Shining Force youtube campaign Sega is really trying too hard at ruining the goodwill people had for it.

  • Tatsuya1221

    Sigh, apple get’s away with patenting “look and feel”, now everyone wants to patent it, this is why i have no loyalties outside of nihon falcom.

  • Glenn De Boer

    First they take down Shining Ark/Shining force Videos for some odd reason
    And now they sue Level 5 over “Patents”? It’s like Sega wants us to boycott them.

    • AnimeRemix

      Why would this even make anyone want to boycott them? The Shining situation seems more reasonable to me compared to this, since SEGA is basically suing them when it comes to intellectual property/exclusive rights.

      • Glenn De Boer

        But then again don’t you think that’s a tad bit odd seeing as how they did not do that in let’s say 2009 when they allegedly got the patent for it? And not to mention said series using that control scheme since 2008? It just reeks of them trying to get cash and not in a proper manner…

        • AnimeRemix

          I’ll admit, it does come as odd, but that’s companies for you. Whoever in SEGA must of had a fair reason as to why they feel they should sue, even if we all else feel differently. For all we know, their financial issues could play a small role in this…

  • りんごタルト@エスカのアトリエ

    It’s funny because it is possible that the people who say they hate Sega are also fans of the Hatsune Miku games. If there’s one thing I don’t like about them is that they make pachinko out of almost everything. And yes, Sega has been irrelevant since they bowed down after the release of the Dreamcast. They probably want to be relevant again.

  • Wait, I thought this patent lawsuits bullshit was only in America. I’m disappointed, Japan…

  • Man, Sega really is in dire straits.

    Well, hopefully this will get people to reconsider the wisdom of letting companies patent game mechanics.

  • Hollowkoopa

    I may not like Inazuma since i hate Soccer but this is pretty low even for Sega.

  • Ninten

    Quick cash, maybe? Sega never fails to amuse us with their stupidity.

    Also, why act 4 years later?

  • bubbly

    What is up with Sega of Japan lately? First they shit on foreign shining series fans. Now they decide to sue level-5.

  • Demeanor

    Typo in the article? It says 900 HUNDRED million first and 900 million later.

  • Will Jay

    People have actually dug up the patents, it’s pretty much literally IE’s control scheme and made for a sports game, but the Sega one goes much more in-depth than how the games work. The patents are from 2004, and I’m pretty sure unused for any games they made, but regardless my question is why the fuck are you bringing this up five whole years and four main games, plus the fifth literally being released tomorrow, after the fact.

    It reeks to me of Sega wanting to make quick lawsuit money because they’re hurting for cash. Patent lawsuits are always bullshit, like the Apple vs Samsung one from not long ago. I’m hoping myself Level-5 at least does a settlement so they can keep making the games.

    • MrRobbyM

      This^ Sega, you’re only making yourself look, well….worse.

  • FFmax

    Lmao! That image is spot on. Kudos to whoever did that. I kind of wish that they were suing Capcom instead. That would have been a sight to see.

  • Roxas Twilightphoenix

    This reminds me of a puzzle…

  • Kitestwinblades

    No Sega… I’m afraid “your too slow” on this one.

  • Elvick

    For shame Sega.

  • IshimaruKaito

    didn’t sega just copyright the shining force videos on youtube?!?

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