Roblox files US patent on counterfeit item detector

It seems even the virtual world has a problem with counterfeits – including the creative gaming platform Roblox used by millions of users.

The company behind the online game and content creation system – Roblox Corp – recently filed a US patent on a method for detecting counterfeit items within the platform, which was first launched in 2006.

The platform is an online space where users, mainly children aged under 16, can play games – 20m of them at a recent count – made by other developers and other users. Developers can make money from games as well as "cosmetics" – digital items for character customisation like hats, hairstyles or clothing – that are uploaded into a user-generated catalogue (UGC).

Cosmetics and some games are bought within Roblox using 'Robux', a digital currency that can be purchased on the platform for real currencies. That creates a virtual trading environment analogous to real-world commerce – and it seems equally likely to attract fraudsters.

Roblex Corp – which recently went public currently now has a market valuation at a jaw-dropping $44 billion – ha a vested interest in making sure that its platform is discouraging cloned or counterfeit items.

70 per cent of Robux earned by the games belongs to the developers, who can cash out their earnings into real currency. It has been reported that some top developers can make $1m a year from the activity.

Roblox filed patent application (No. 20210174132) describes using multiple two-dimensional views of a three-dimensional virtual object and an algorithm to compare that pattern to a genuine, original object and determine whether it is a clone.

"Flooding of counterfeit virtual objects in the marketplace can be difficult to detect, and the volume and nature of the virtual objects can make it difficult for human intervention in the detection of the counterfeit virtual objects," says the patent application.

"Early detection of counterfeit virtual objects may make it difficult and/or expensive for a creator of a counterfeit virtual object to create and propagate counterfeit virtual objects," it adds. "A game platform that prevents the upload of counterfeit virtual objects can effectively deter counterfeit object creators."

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