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Worlds.com Sues NCSoft Over MMO-Patent 261

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the very-bad-ideas dept.
Lulfas writes "Worlds.com today sued NCSoft over its patent on a scalable virtual world, filed in 2000 and granted this February. This is a very broad base patent, and there is no reason to expect they will only sue NCSoft, when they should be able to use the same patent against other companies. 'Specifically, the suit claims that NCsoft has infringed on patent 7,181,690, "System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space" through its games, including City of Heroes, City of Villains, Dungeon Runners, Exteel, Guild Wars, Lineage, Lineage II, and Tabula Rasa.'"
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Worlds.com Sues NCSoft Over MMO-Patent

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  • Prior Art? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LabRat (8054) on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:41PM (#26264247)

    Filed in 2000? Um...shouldn't be too hard to show prior art to overturn it if the patent indeed is applicable to operating MMOs. UO and EQ for sure...probably even text-based MUDs.

    • Re:Prior Art? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kindaian (577374) on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:55PM (#26264355) Homepage

      Even some of NCSoft games are prior art to that.

      But the issue is a bit irrelevant due to the fact that as stated before elsewhere VRML existed way before it.

      Also "World" is a fictional MMORPG anime series and fully trademarked...

      Also.. shockwave dates from 2000, and i'm sure Macromedia/Adobe will have tons of patents related with them.

      *drumrolls*

      • since your examples are simply more instances of prior art.
        • Sadly it is irrelevant.

          Even with Bilski and prior art on the table, the judge isn't supposed to toss invalid patents out the door, instead leaving it up to the patent office to accept a challenge. Which would cost NCSoft millions to have done.

    • Re:Prior Art? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:18PM (#26264505)

      Filed in 2000? Um...shouldn't be too hard to show prior art

      Well, they filed an almost identical patent [google.com] in 1994, which shows slightly more forethought on their part. But still, I played GCP in the mid-eighties [atarimagazines.com] which covers most, if not all, of the claims.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        in 1994

        Drat. 1994 should have been 1996.

      • Prior art from 1979 (Score:3, Informative)

        by Attaturk (695988)
        And the first text-based multiplayer virtual world was created in 1978/1979 [livinginternet.com] by Messrs Bartle and Trubshaw. I thought everyone knew that bit of lore by now.
      • NCSoft might consider that the patent at hand has a terminal disclaimer filed in it referring to the patent you mentioned. While the new patent has only been issued for a year and change, one might wonder whether the doctrine of laches would apply since the PTO decided that one of the old and new patents is obvious over the other, and the patent holder neglected to sue on the basis of the older patent for 12 years or so.

        Also, I think MUDs read on at least some of the claims, and at least some of the others

    • by JSBiff (87824) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:40PM (#26264633) Journal

      If you look at the link to the actual patent, and begin reading the claims, this does not apply to the (original version of) Ultima Online, or to text muds, because the patent specifically describes a 3-dimensional graphical world as being part of the claims. UO is (or at least was, last time I played it around 2001 or 2002) 2-dimensional. Right about the time I was leaving, they introduced an expansion called Third-Dawn, which still didn't make the world truly 3D, but it did make player avatars and monsters 3D, IIRC.

      EQ, as I recall, was true 3D (I only played a trial account for like 10 days once, so my memories are rather vague), so it might be a good candidate for prior art.

      It should be noted that the patent does not appear to cover (I don't know for sure; I'm not a lawyer), the idea of a 3D MMO, per se, but rather a few necessary client rendering techniques (which, in reality, almost any 3D MMO would be likely to employ) for determining what other users' avatars should be displayed by the client. It appears the idea they are trying to patent is that, in a 3D world, when you turn the camera to look a given direction, you should only see some avatars, and not others (that is, only the ones in your field of view). Additionally, if there are a lot of avatars, this patent claims protection for the idea that the client can implement a maximum number of avatars to display, and to use the knowledge of the maximum number to display, combined with the position information, to determine some subset of the avatars to display (presumably the X nearest avatars, where X is the maximum number to display, though the patent doesn't specify this explicitly).

      I'd be shocked if EQ and Meridian59 didn't both do these things several years before this patent app was filed.

      I'd also like to point out, that the patent doesn't specify 'camera orientation' or 'client view orientation' (even though that appears to be what they are trying to cover), but rather 'avatar orientation' (which suggests to me that this patent would only apply to MMOGs where the camera orientation is locked to the avatar orientation). Based on my 3+ years of playing CoH, I can tell you that the CoH client doesn't determine which other avatars to show on screen based on the orientation of my avatar - I can spin the camera freely to point in any direction, even look completely backwards from the direction my avatar is facing, so I suspect that NCSoft could claim that as a defense, if they had to.

      Also, I think they could, maybe, make a defense against claim 6 (I'm not sure though):

      6. A method for enabling a plurality of users to interact in a virtual space, wherein each user has a computer associated therewith, wherein each computer has a client process associated therewith, wherein each client process has an avatar associated therewith, and wherein each client process is in communication with a server process, comprising:

      (a) monitoring, by each client process, a position of the avatar associated with the client process;

      (b) transmitting, by each client process to the server process, the position of the avatar associated with the client process;

      (c) transmitting, by the server process to each client process, the positions of less than all of the avatars that are not associated with the client process; and

      (d) determining from the positions transmitted in step (c), by each client process, a set of the avatars that are to be displayed.

      Now, I could be wrong here, but I thought most client/server 3D game protocols do *not* have the clients transmit the position of the avatar to the server, which is part (b)? Don't the servers already know the position of the avatar, and the clients just send a vector, that is, a request to move a certain number of units in a particular direction, at which point the server calculates a new position from the original posti

      • ow, I could be wrong here, but I thought most client/server 3D game protocols do *not* have the clients transmit the position of the avatar to the server, which is part (b)? Don't the servers already know the position of the avatar, and the clients just send a vector, that is, a request to move a certain number of units in a particular direction, at which point the server calculates a new position from the original postion + the vector?

        Generally correct. In cases where the client allows movement by mouse, the client may send to the server where it /wishes/ to be. Still not the same as described in (b).

        • by Siberwulf (921893)
          Some games *used* to let the client dictate the game state (position) but that leads to all sorts of fun/nasty things like speedhacks, wallhacks, etc.
      • by Creepy (93888) on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:57PM (#26265087) Journal

        I've seen several parts of the patent that are not applicable to certain games or have prior art.

          Article 4 about determining the subset of avatars to display would absolutely not apply to Dungeon Runners or Guild Wars, which are instanced. I can't remember how Dungeon Runners did towns (I played it all of 2 hours), but GW has district maximums to never overload towns and thus never needs to use nearness to display avatars.

        Patent filing is 2000, NCSoft's own Lineage was released in 1998 and is 2D (Lineage II was 2003 and true 3D).

        The Realm and Meridian 59 both were true 3D and predate this patent. Several other non MMORPGs that were also 3D and had an online component also predate this patent, but don't have the nearby limiting display issue.

        And yes, as parent stated, clients aren't trusted in MMORPGs, so the server handles all movement and momentum, however, I did see source for one (FOSS MMORPG) 'hint' about where the client thought it was to deal with lag issues (which may be patent infringing). From the games I've played, however, that is not the norm and you rubber band to wherever the server thinks you are. Incidentally, most I've seen wouldn't trust a game to pass a vector - just a direction and a mapping of keys and buttons. Server handles velocity and momentum as well as absolute position.

      • by jdludlow (316515)

        It appears the idea they are trying to patent is that, in a 3D world, when you turn the camera to look a given direction, you should only see some avatars, and not others (that is, only the ones in your field of view). Additionally, if there are a lot of avatars, this patent claims protection for the idea that the client can implement a maximum number of avatars to display, and to use the knowledge of the maximum number to display, combined with the position information, to determine some subset of the ava

      • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @12:25AM (#26265205)
        *cracks knuckles*

        Being an avid MMO player from UO to current, as well as being a 3D developer on the Unreal Engine, I can make for some useful input here.

        The original UO was indeed a 2D isometric client. Third Dawn brought 3D aspects to the game, though the world was still rendered in isometric view. It just looked more 3Dish. There were however mods/ports to UO that rendered a 3D world! They were buggy as heck though, but you could (in theory) play in the UO world with a 3D client. (Though it was a third party client).

        Now, EQ was a true 3D world. No if's or but's about it.

        The whole bit about the number of avatars to display, that's more really related to engine/hardware performance. Basically, when developing an environment developers need to look at polygons on a screen. This is one of the main restricting factors in developing a world. The more polygons a graphics card has to render, the longer it takes. It's not the only thing, but at the time that this patent was filed, it was certainly one of the most important things.

        Now, avatars in a game generally have a much much higher polygon count than the environment around them, so naturally restricting the number shown might be very beneficial to rendering a game world nicely, however, soon after this patent was originally filed, a bright spark came up with the idea of not removing entire actors, but adding a LOD factor into models. Basically, it means that the further something is away from the camera, the less polygons it will use. This can also be ingeniously used to reduce the polygons per actor/model in the camera view if the number starts getting too high.

        To use the obligatory car analogy, if I want to limit my game engine to displaying 100 polygons on the screen at a time, I can render a car with 100 polygons, but also allow the code to reduce these polygons to 50 if a second car comes onto the screen. Should I need to have 10 cars on the screen at once, they would each be reduced to 10 polygons.

        Don't the servers already know the position of the avatar, and the clients just send a vector, that is, a request to move a certain number of units in a particular direction, at which point the server calculates a new position from the original postion + the vector?

        The section you write about actors and client/server relative positions is sort of right. It's not far off anyhow. Here is how things work in just about all client/server applications now.

        The server sets the original position to the client - when a new level loads for example. The the client sends data as to where it wants to go and both the server and client move the character around. Now, due to a number of factors such as latency, packet loss as well as a number of others, the two locations will become out of sync. However, rather than the server being updated with the client's location, what happens is that the client is updated with the server's location of where it things the character is. This sometimes leads to what is known as the "slingshot effect" where characters (or other actors) suddenly update in the client view and appear to slingshot around the screen to catch up. A notable exception to this rule is World of Warcraft, which does actually have servers that will quite happily allow a character anywhere in the world that the client lets them get. This has resulted in some rather funny "exploits" where people altered their clients and walked past mobs to get to the final boss in an instance and then just started attacking it. This may have been fixed in one of the expansions however. While I am not entirely sure, I think that D&D Online may have also suffered from the client updating the server with actor locations, as I recall there was a considerable number of movement hacks and exploits in that game.

      • by EvilIdler (21087)

        The bit about hiding models you aren't looking at is bloody prior art in every real 3D game before, anyway. It's an obvious optimisation technique!

        This is just like computer patents taken to the next level. When there is prior art in the real world, you add "on a computer" to the patent description. Next step would be "on the Internet" when that isn't enough.

        What will the next thing be - a patent application for "online rendering of blue models"?

      • by Speare (84249)
        FYI, the Meridian 59 server-side architecture was a single machine serving the whole "world." It did not attempt to scale to multiple machines at all. If any avatars were in the same "room" as yours, even if invisible, then your client knew about it. The entire world state was in one file, which was rewritten (and garbage-collected) every N minutes. It was incredibly simple and simplistic. But it was 3D.
      • Now, I could be wrong here, but I thought most client/server 3D game protocols do *not* have the clients transmit the position of the avatar to the server, which is part (b)? Don't the servers already know the position of the avatar, and the clients just send a vector, that is, a request to move a certain number of units in a particular direction, at which point the server calculates a new position from the original postion + the vector?

        I would guess it depends on the game. I imagine in some games it might make sense to instead have the client transmit updated coordinates, and have the server calculate the vector and determine if it's an allowed vector. I'm also guessing that's more work for the server -- but I haven't done any of the math.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        It appears the idea they are trying to patent is that, in a 3D world, when you turn the camera to look a given direction, you should only see some avatars, and not others (that is, only the ones in your field of view).

        Or, shorter, FPMMO.

      • Now, I could be wrong here, but I thought most client/server 3D game protocols do *not* have the clients transmit the position of the avatar to the server, which is part (b)? Don't the servers already know the position of the avatar, and the clients just send a vector, that is, a request to move a certain number of units in a particular direction, at which point the server calculates a new position from the original postion + the vector? I don't know if that is what CoH does, but I suspect that is the case (the only exception might be for the 'teleport' powers; teleportation, I suspect, basically works on an explicit location basis, so there might be some wiggle-room for Worlds.com to make a claim there, although I think a lawyer could argue that teleportation, when activated, is not the client transmitting the avatar's actual location, but instead a location which the server should move the avatar too, which might be different enough to be a handy loophole).

        Prior art is easy to find - look at ANY multiplayer online shooter. Doom alone locks the case and throws it out for public ridicule.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        If you look at the link to the actual patent, and begin reading the claims, this does not apply to the (original version of) Ultima Online, or to text muds, because the patent specifically describes a 3-dimensional graphical world as being part of the claims.

        So it's basically like one of those "on the internet" patents, except it's an "in 3-d" patent. (Nature trail to hell...)

        Now, I could be wrong here, but I thought most client/server 3D game protocols do *not* have the clients transmit the position of the avatar to the server

        I'm the wrong guy to ask from a technical standpoint, but from what I can tell this was common practice especially in older games. You did whatever you did, and your client's physics engine handled the calculations of what you were doing, and the game server MAY have some method to figure out if you're cheating. I mean, if you were right then how would all the cheats in Half-Life (cheaters

    • From the patent itself: Related U.S. Application Data
      (63) Continuation of application No. 08/747,420, filed on Nov. 12, 1996, now Pat. No. 6,219,045.

      Now educate yourself on continuing patents:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuing_patent_application [wikipedia.org]

      Now look at the dates for release of Ultima Online and Everquest:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_online [wikipedia.org]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everquest [wikipedia.org]

      Also if you look at the claims for the patent it requires CLIENT software that does considerably more client-state tr

      • People around here can't even read the summary and you expect them to read claims from a patent!!!
      • by Retric (704075)
        UO and EQ where late to the game. Launched online December 15, 1995 "Meridian 59 is often credited as the first 3D graphical "massively multiplayer online game" or MMORPG."
    • by Gerzel (240421)

      Prior Art imagining a virtual extendable world:

      Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson 1979

      • Prior Art imagining a virtual extendable world:

        Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson 1979

        Actually it was published in 1992.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      I'm pretty sure I saw an attempt at a scalable virtual world with 3D displays at Expo88 - I think it was by people at Hitachi but there were other groups doing that sort of thing. Can somebody please insist that the patent office be a bit more than a fee for someone to get a rubber stamp on a bit of paper?
    • Patent Troll hits you for 3 damage.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by samkass (174571)

      I'm certainly not going to defend this patent. But I did read it, and I don't see how any of the terminal-based MUD-like games apply. The very first claim specifies a client process and a server process, and the client process receiving positional information of a subset of the users in the world and the client determining what is to be displayed, then displaying avatars for users.

      In addition, simple technologies like VRML and Flash, without an avatar and virtual world built on them, wouldn't be prior art

  • Bilski? (Score:4, Informative)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:44PM (#26264257) Journal

    Bilski will invalidate this extremely quickly. I guess the company suing really thought NCsoft won't figure that out, or maybe they wanted it to be invalidated that fast?

    • by cpu_fusion (705735) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:15PM (#26264483)

      Because many patent attorneys are not entirely sure WTF Bilski has actually done to software patents. And "invalidate this extremely quickly" rarely happens in patent law after a patent has been granted. There are many levels of appeals, etc.

      The Bilski decision invalidated a business method patent that was so abstract it could be done in a person's head. The dicta [nonbinding precedent -- stuff unnecessary for the specific holding] of Bilski said some soothing things that made certain computer algorithms appear vulnerable.

      But really, do not overestimate Bilski. And don't forget the Supreme Court hasn't yet weighed in on whether it will deny cert to Bilski ... [at least I am not aware of any denial...]

  • LambdaMOO (Score:5, Funny)

    by OrangeTide (124937) on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:48PM (#26264295) Homepage Journal

    Sorry, Xerox beat you to it. They invented everything first.

  • by genner (694963) on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:48PM (#26264307)
    Lol...how many MMORPG's were out before 2000.
    Somewhere a NCsoft lawyer is praticing his layups while saying *swish*
    • ... and you'll need to wade your way through 35 USC s102 and related case law to know whether alleged prior art defeated the novelty of this patent.

      It's a crappy patent -- I hate it, it's lame, and I think it is pretty damn obvious and does not advance the art -- but as to whether there is prior art, that's another story.

      [*Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, but I am a law student.]

      • by genner (694963)

        you'll need to wade your way through 35 USC s102 and related case law to know whether alleged prior art defeated the novelty of this patent.

        Yeah thats pretty much NCSofts job here.
        How does that invalidate my *swish* ?

      • I haven't read the patent but the 1996 date will only be applicable to any parts of the claims that are supported by the specification as filed in 1996. Any new material in the claims will get the new date. But you probably knew this since you are a law student.
  • Correction... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aztektum (170569) on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:51PM (#26264327)
    It was granted in February of '07

    Anyway, this takes some gigantic balls. Granted I only read the abstract, but Ultima and Everquest were active before this shit patent was even filed.

    <melodramatic rant!>
    Only when we can throw patent examiners in prison for such gross negligence will we have true patent reform!
    </melodramatic rant!>
    • by cpu_fusion (705735) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:59PM (#26264755)

      From the patent itself: Related U.S. Application Data
      (63) Continuation of application No. 08/747,420, filed on Nov. 12, 1996, now Pat. No. 6,219,045.

      Now educate yourself on continuing patents:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuing_patent_application [wikipedia.org]

      Now look at the dates for release of Ultima Online and Everquest:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_online [wikipedia.org]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everquest [wikipedia.org]

      People on Slashdot discussing the Law sound as informed as your average senior citizen would sound on here discussing tech. "I PUT THE ETHERNET INTO THE HARD DRIVE WHY DOESN'T MY AOL WORK?!"

      There's a reason why people spend three years of their life in law school. It's not for their health.

      • by aztektum (170569)

        Touche. I may have noticed that if I'd simply read it all. As it were, I was on my way out of the office so I was going on the summary.

        Speaking of AOL: How funny would it be if AOL ended up saving the day assuming the ORIG NWN [wikipedia.org] could be held up as prior art.

        As an aside, it was rather nice of them to sit on their shit while the market matured. I'd LOVE to see them go after ActiBlizzard. The money they have to spend would shatter. Yet another reason why the patent system is fsckd.

  • On Google Patent Search: 7,181,690 [google.com].

    IANAL. I think I can summarize the patent like this: a system which displays the player's avatar and a limited number of other players' avatar based on virtual presence, plus the server software which tells the client what to display.

    I would think that depending on the interpretation of "display", this patent could be invalidated by any text-based MUD. I could easily display the location of other players avatars, and I'm sure there's a MUD out there which could render the

    • by Todd Knarr (15451)

      Prior art would be Conquest and similar games: 2D space-war simulators with multiple players. Central server, each player ran a client that talked to the server, players could join or leave a game and the game would add or remove their units from the universe. Display was rather primitive seeing as it ran on ASCII-text terminals connected to the computer through serial ports, but it did all the basics. The only thing it didn't do was use a cluster of servers, and see KSR Teleflex for that. Clustering was we

    • Going only on your description, I'd say Habitat [fudco.com] for sure.
  • Blizzard. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Thalagyrt (851883) on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:57PM (#26264367)

    If only they had tried to go after Blizzard... Worlds.com would have had their patent invalidated in a very epic way, if you will. :P

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mkiwi (585287)
      I didn't realize Arthas dropped this patent!
    • by argStyopa (232550)

      I'm going to go out on a limb here and expect that there might be a 'friend of the court' brief filed by Blizzard, stating quite clearly that a certain 900lb gorilla believes this is a load of crap.

      • by Psmylie (169236) *
        Absolutely. Worlds.com went after someone smaller, in order to set a precedent to use against other game companies. It really all comes down to who can throw the most money at it (in terms of numbers of lawyers). Blizzard is too big for them to overwhelm now.

        What they're probably trying to win is a small amount of money per "client" installed. If they can win here, they can use that capital and the precedent to go after bigger fish. It's in Blizzard's best interest to help out the defense in this case, ma

  • by Draconi (38078)

    Yeah, prior art?

    UO began development before the first patent was filed, was publicly demonstrated technology, and pretty much already did everything mentioned between the two patents.

    Obvious point being that UO is a 2D game - or is it? It has three directions of movement, but is merely rendered in military projection by the client. As far as the server goes, every avatar is represented by an X, Y, Z coordinate set.

    Draw shortcuts/prioritization by proximity, amount of other avatars/mobiles on screen? Yep.

    Sca

    • Having read the patent summary it would appear that multiplayer games like DOOM back in '93 would count as prior art. It's graphical, your space marine is your avatar, and the server handles movement. Or better yet I recall playing multiplayer Crossfire [wikipedia.org] back in '93 also.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DustyShadow (691635)

        Having read the patent summary

        That's your problem right there. You have to read the claims.

    • Obvious point being that UO is a 2D game - or is it?

      I don't think it matters. Prior art doesn't have to exactly fit the patent. The test is whether or not the invention would be obvious to one skilled in the prior art. Given a 2D game that does everything in the patent except for being 3D, then applying the same techniques to a 3D game would be obvious.

  • by techsoldaten (309296) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:18PM (#26264503) Journal

    Sounds a lot like my patent, "System and Method for Allowing People to Talk." Perhaps we should get all our lawyers together for a barbeque or something.

    M

  • dumb shit (Score:3, Informative)

    by LingNoi (1066278) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:19PM (#26264509)

    This is the dumbest most unprofessional patent I have ever seen.

    Theres even a kids drawing in the patent. [google.com]

    • Ahhh Penguinus Online. I played it back in the '00s, but the PvP was just not there. Worst of all people could camp your fishing spots and there was nothing you could do about it! Damn carebear MMO.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by xmundt (415364)

        Greetings and Salutations...
        Well, while the patent app may show penguins, I remember being really impressed by the World's Chat environment. I spent WAY too much time wandering around there, and created some pretty spiffy 3d avatars. I thought it was quite a shame when they decided to pull the plug on the free version, and go to a full subscription model. As I suspected, a vast majority of folks simply bailed out from it and went away.

    • by Zymergy (803632) *
      Actually, Leahy does have an impressive resume though: http://leahy.to/daveleahy06.html [leahy.to]

      LOL... liked the part where he described himself in his background paragraph as "Sharper than a brass tack." We shall see...
    • by Zorque (894011)

      Fig. 5: penguins.

  • by WarJolt (990309) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:30PM (#26264575)

    The Supreme Court, however, has enunciated a definitive test to determine
    whether a process claim is tailored narrowly enough to encompass only a particular
    application of a fundamental principle rather than to pre-empt the principle itself. A
    claimed process is surely patent-eligible under  101 if: (1) it is tied to a particular
    machine or apparatus, or (2) it transforms a particular article into a different state or
    thing.

    http://ipwatchdog.com/cases/bilski.pdf [ipwatchdog.com]

    Lets all work to invalidate frivolous software patents.

  • by WiiVault (1039946) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:38PM (#26264617)
    NCSoft has been in a lot of trouble lately, with the recent loss of their founder, and closing T-Rasa. The company seems to be in some sort of free fall. These vultures are simply targeting the weakest in the pack, hoping to gain a few quick bucks before going after the big guys.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eskarel (565631)

      They chose NCSoft because their alternatives are Sony who probably have an entire building full of high priced land sharks avaiable for their defense, or going after WoW which generates enough revenue to purchase a couple of congress critters.

      Patent trolling either company isn't for the faint of heart and you'd have to be damned sure you had a convincing case to try either.

      NCSoft by comparison was one of the weakest of the pack(not in terms of quality of MMO's or anything like that, merely in terms of how s

  • Only in america ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058)
    legal and patent system can be THIS exploited.

    those people very well know that prior art can be proven against them. but, they are taking an opportunity.

    the same environment which allowed finance companies to make a total wreck of economy, bolsters such opportunism. these people produce nothing, provide nothing for betterment of society or mankind, serve nothing to nobody. instead, they exploit.

    you people really need to overhaul your entire country.
  • These folks are one big joke. I'd almost suggest going to their site to laugh at them but that'd give them the attention that they're looking for. They're essentially a DOT COM era virtual worlds company that some how managed to snag Spielberg, Bowie, Compaq and a couple other folks to toss them a combined $22M. The net result was a patent app and a really, really lame 3D engine. I don't know how they managed, but some how they were able to hang on to enough of that venture capital to retain intellectua

  • Avatars interacting in a 3D virtual world etc. [wikipedia.org] ... When will the USPTO stop being so dumb?
  • by Michael Snoswell (3461) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @02:48AM (#26265797) Journal

    I presented public lectures on a system I developed called Cyberterm, back in the early 90s. I presented lectures at UK VR_SIG Meeting at deMontfort University in Leicester in 1995 and at the HITL (Human Interface Technology Lab) at the University of Washington in that same year. I can name names or people in attendance if required.

    Each talk was advertised and attended by the general public and outlined Cyberterm's use of pretty much exactly the system described in the patent (which I had up and running at the time). The system had also been demonstrated to numerous other people around the world at the time and since then and was written about in WAVE and Virtual magazines in the late 90s and described in written detail in many online papers as well as a series of ariticles in the PCVR-Magazine (also in the late 90s). Some of these articles are still available online archived by the HITL Librarian.

    As the author of this system and the underlying technology, I would say I have some copyright ownership of the technology I developed. I still have archives of the earlier code and it runs with a copyright message.

    I'll be happy to claim a big chunk of any money worlds.com make. Patent attorneys and lawyers of other companies (NC-Soft for instance) wishing to defend themselves can contact me via linkedin.com (amongst other places).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by urulokion (597607)

      I did a Google search for Cyberterm I found Michael's paper about Cyberterm [washington.edu]. After reading the paper throughly, it seems to be prior art to most, if not all, claims of that patent. There is publish date of the paper, but the web page headers indicate a date of July, 1992. And the paper talks of release of source code in late '92, and the work that went into the project from the last year. I now have absolutely no worries at all that patent. To borrow a phrase, that patent is BUSTED!

      And I wish I had know abo

  • This is something we were working on from 1998. We documented the design in some detail, and I released the documentation to prevent people from trying to patent it: http://www.annexia.org/freeware/fleet [annexia.org]

    The innovation in this (never-built) MMO is that the design requires no server at all. It what might now be called "P2P" (although that term wasn't around at the time).

    Rich.

  • Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) protocol supports a number of dead reckoning algorithms, from simple first order position to rate of turn and acceleration. An IEEE standard since '97, I believe. See here [wikipedia.org].
  • If those fuckers get GW shut down before my ranger gets to finish Underworld, I'm gonna be eatin' somebody's baby...

  • by Ramion (178075)

    There is a few games that was released before 2000.
    Meridian 59 - Released in 1996
    Everquest - Released in 1999
    Asheron's Call - Released in 1999

    This is according to:
    http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/show/all/sCol/estimatedRelease/sOrder/asc [mmorpg.com]

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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