A Gamasutra article on the most important video game patents.
Wow this is a stupid article.
"7. The One You Can’t Live Without"
"5. The One That Gets Blatantly Copied"
The only one that makes any sense is:
1. The One That BIRTHED the Industry - Pong Patent
However, Pong was itself based on multiple previous projects. Just like Alexander Graham Bell who didn't necessarily invent the phone (although he did patent it), Atari really didn't invent much. For more Americana: Eli Whitney didn't invent the Cotton Gin, but he did patent it.
Patent something you didn't invent- the best way to get famous in America. (Not that Atari doesn't deserve fame, but Pong was a pre-existing idea)
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