This patent explains loading game languages from external files. I'm pretty sure that has already been implemented in many games. I'm not sure if they violate the patent or not. What kind of localization would be allowed then?
From the USPTO:
So no, the "idea" of "localization by external files" is not something a patent can be granted for. However, a specific process for localization via external files is, and that's what is described in US 7930167.
The patent is attempting to solve the problem whereby the set of languages supported by a game is hard-coded at build time, and requires a new build to add a new language. Specifically it describes a solution using:
- a library
- which can detect at runtime (dynamically) the availability of "language packs" (collections of localized resources)
- and load the most-appropriate of those based on machine settings
- and provide fallback resources in the event that a specific resource is not available in chosen localized pack
- which has the ability to retrieve new language packs from a network
While I am not a lawyer and you may want to consult one if you are concerned about infringing upon this patent, the crux of the issue seems to be the process for dynamically detecting and loading localizations such that you can drop new localizations without updating the game itself.
If you're simply loading localized strings from an external file which you choose based on a hard-coded list that's not precisely what this patent describes, so you may be safe.
Microsoft has issued "patent promises" concerning the free use of various patents it owns; they are generally related to standards, however, and as far I can tell this patent is not in the list. You can get in touch with Microsoft's patent department if you have further questions.
A patent is invalid when whatever it does has already been done by a different product before the patent was handed in. This is called prior art.
This patent is from 2008.
What you describe (loading localization from external files) has already been done by GNU gettext, first released in 1995. So when that would be the claim the patent covers, it would be invalid.
But as Josh Petrie pointed out, the patent claim goes far further into detail. And until your implementation covers all claims the patent makes, it isn't in violation.
But again, ask a real patent lawyer to be 100% sure.
The patent refers to the specific library they have developed to solve this problem not the idea of having such a system. You literally cant patent a idea. So if you code your own localization and don't steal that specific code you are good to go. I personally made a simple system that read a google doc, downloads it into XML form and then replace a bunch of string dependent on the selected language.
TLDR; The idea of doing localization this way can not be patented and you have nothing to worry about.