The patented “superformula” that could cause a legal headache for No Man’s Sky

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Is there a patent on the formula that helped generate this beautiful scene?

With No Man’s Sky‘s highly anticipated release just weeks away, a Dutch company is objecting to the game’s alleged use of a patented “superformula” to generate landscapes and terrain.

The brewing conflict, first reported earlier this week by Dutch newspaper Telegraaf (Google translation), centers on a geometric transformation formula developed by University of Antwerp professor Johan Gielis in the early 2000s.

The formula’s penchant for creating naturalistic shapes with gentle curves using just a few parameters led some to nickname it a “superformula.” Gielis received a patent on the superformula in the European Union in 2002 and a US patent was granted in 2009 (in addition to a few other related patents). He then founded Genicap to monetize the formula by “develop[ing] innovative technologies and products for today’s and tomorrow’s world,” according to its corporate webpage.

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