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Major MMO Publishers Sued For Patent Infringement 232

Posted by Soulskill
from the prior-what-now dept.
GameboyRMH writes "The Boston Globe reports that major MMO publishers (Blizzard, Turbine, SOE, NCSoft, and Jagex) are being sued by Paltalk, which holds a patent on 'sharing data among many connected computers so that all users see the same digital environment' — a patent that would seem to apply to any multiplayer game played between multiple systems, at the very least. Paltalk has already received an out-of-court settlement from Microsoft earlier this year in relation to a lawsuit over the Halo games. If Microsoft can't fend off Paltalk's legal attacks, the odds don't look good for their latest group of targets."
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Major MMO Publishers Sued For Patent Infringement

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  • Seriously. The amount of prior art on this one is more than enough to keep these trolls at bay.

    • by joeflies (529536)
      I was thinking more along the lines of MUD
    • by moro_666 (414422)

      Damn it feels so good to be thousands of miles away from the US.

      However, i hope that you enrich your laws sometime soon with "patents can be ignored if their build-up is just plain stupid blackmail"

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DrXym (126579)
      Nethack isn't multi-user, but there are plenty of multi-player games both graphical and otherwise going back YEARS. Various versions of MUD would fit the bill, as would games like Netrek, Ultima Online, etc. Even many Amiga / ST games let people connect 2 or more systems with serial cables for primitive network gaming.
    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      Netrek, XPilot, CrossFire. However, we haven't seen the patent, so conceivably it does contain some novel methods.
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday September 18, 2009 @03:48AM (#29463499)

    'sharing data among many connected computers so that all users see the same digital environment'

    Well there goes digital TV then....

  • by popo (107611) on Friday September 18, 2009 @03:49AM (#29463509) Homepage

    ... because if it is, that's a whole lot of prior art...

    • by Shikaku (1129753)

      Why don't they try to sue bittorrent too? Or mirroring websites. Or Google for having a hundreds of servers to share the load of loading a website.

      Too broad a patent.

  • This is the closest thing I have seen to a Runescape reference on slashdot.

    Sadly its because of patent trolling, Oh well.

  • That way, there's actually something substantive to discuss.

  • When you can find prior art in the Jargon File, your patent is stupid.

  • Not so fast... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki@co[ ]et ['x.n' in gap]> on Friday September 18, 2009 @04:06AM (#29463627)

    Sometimes it's cheaper to just pay off the plaintiff than to litigate. Blizzard has deeeeeeeeeeep pockets and has a reason to fight this. Let's see where this goes.

  • I didn't check the date of the pattent, but it may be interresting to check if MUD preclude this patent... Another kind of program that may preclude is some BBS doors and some programs that may have existed during the Spectrum/Commodore/Amstrad/... time

  • by Don_dumb (927108) on Friday September 18, 2009 @04:24AM (#29463737)
    Can someone who is knowledgeable about patent law explain to me how one district in the US can be so appealing for this kind of ligitgation when another is not?
    I was under the impression that patents are awarded federally, however it seems that the actions are being taken at a very specific locality which is widely considered more sympathetic than everywhere else, rather than a national or federal court.
    This seems very strange to me, surely the legal position on a federal issue should be consistent across the nation. Or the verdicts across low level courts should be able to be 'moderated'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by OrangeTide (124937)

      The vast majority of civil cases are carried out through state courts. Each state has slightly different protocols and procedures. And if the order of a lower court is inconsistent with federal law, it is possible to bring a case up to a higher court. But this costs additional time and money.

      In many ways the US is still a confederation of small pseudo-nations, although that has been changing rapidly for the past 100 years.

      Also it's a matter of perspective, to me it would be strange for a single system to ce

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Don_dumb (927108)
        Thanks that does help. If I understand correctly elevation acts as the moderation, why doesn't this happen more often to prevent this court being such a troll haven? Or is it just that lots of patent lawyers remain (the sibling post by maroberts surmises)

        PS I'm not saying that I beleive a single system should entriely govern 300 million people but if something is determined at the national level then the application of that should be consistent across the nation. Impossible I know but it seems this place i
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by maroberts (15852)
      Each District (and Circuit) has procedural rules, which may or may not be favourable to the conduct of certain types of cases, and in addition the fact that a lot of Patent cases get done in this one district means that lots of patent lawyers hang out there. It's sort of a positive feedback loop...
      • by Don_dumb (927108)

        Each District (and Circuit) has procedural rules, which may or may not be favourable to the conduct of certain types of cases

        Thanks, I think I see.
        Is this just for civil proceedings or criminal ones? It just seems to me to be inherently unjust to have the outcome of a case be literally influenced by the location of the proceedings.

  • by jurgen (14843) on Friday September 18, 2009 @05:40AM (#29464021)

    Microsoft might not want to "fend off" some legal attacks... by paying a settlement, which they can easily do, they give the trolls the means to attack others who might NOT be able to afford a settlement, thus clearing the battlefield, err, market, for Microsoft's products.

    I have no idea if this applies here, but this isn't cynicism... Corporations DO think this way. There is no morality involved, only the logic of competition in the markets, and there are no questions of legality, only those of court and settlement costs vs potential profits.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Settlement's often the right choice in this scenario. Settle, and the matter is dropped (usually) without prejudice, giving you the chance to invalidate their case when you're better-prepared. Take it to court and you're facing off on their terms. They've got a specific case made up, you're the respondent who has to pull things together in a time limit. You may wind up with a precident-setting court decision against you, which leaves you worse off than when you started, and makes it easier for the winning p

  • Can anyone tell me what effect the stupid US software patents system would have on overseas developers where there is no software patent law?

    If an MMO developer like Blizzard were based in Europe could they basically tell them to fo, or would they still be able to bring a case and prevent them accepting paying customers from the US?

    Clearly this kind of suit severely impacts innovation- what indie would dare try and develop and online game if they're at risk of being sued or forced to settle such that they c

    • by tepples (727027)

      Can anyone tell me what effect the stupid US software patents system would have on overseas developers where there is no software patent law?

      If anything, they create a strain on the overseas countries' immigration systems.

  • Obviously everyone has forgotten DECWARS, MUD1, Island of Kesmai, etc.

    The patent is invalid. That Microsoft chose to "settle for an undisclosed sum" according to TFA (because of HALO) only encourages these idiots - in fact, that's probably what Microsoft wanted... it takes the heat off them and puts it on the other guys.

    When oh when will the USPTO learn how evil software patents can be, especially vague ones like this.

  • I am looking forward to seeing how this is going to pan out, sure MS probably gave in, because they helped push the patent, so they want to help enforce it...even though there is no proof for the public of this fact. I am sure that there is a sort of under the table dealing here, where MS will end up owning this patent, and being that it was enforced somehow through misdirection on their own part, and the likes of blizzard etc..would follow, the future of this type of game, will be great for MS!

    I hope the l

  • Zarni Maung shows a long history of accepting broad reaching patents that sadly affect almost everyone in everyday life. Back in 1996 I'm sure it was difficult to see what would happen with all of these idea's but some of the patents accepted by Zarni Maung help to define the internet itself. Also all these companies just need to find examples of prior art to 1996 correct? The other question will be if any other past MMO creaters were sued or paid licensing fees to the group that holds this patent.
  • It strikes me that this is yet another case of "company buys patent from somebody else, company tries to sue people with their new patent." It really is quite abusive, seeing as patents are there to reward innovation by inventors, but I think I've figured out a simple and elegant way to prevent this sort of thing.

    Make patents non-transferable.

    So, the only person or organization who can sue somebody for patent infringement is the one who actually invented the thing. That might not knock out every patent tr

  • If I were looking for prior art on this one I would look at SIMNET (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SIMNET) I would look at the systems leading up to it and the follow on systems. DARPA was way out in the lead pushing for distributed VR systems in the '80s and early '90s.

    OTOH, I did skim the patent and it looks like they are talking about sending packets at fixed time intervals. The packets would contain all the little messages generated for the recipient during that time interval. That is a clever idea. Almos

  • "The Boston Globe reports that major MMO publishers (Blizzard, Turbine, SOE, NCSoft, and Jagex) are being sued by Paltalk, which holds a patent on 'sharing data among many connected computers so that all users see the same digital environment'

    Actually, no. TFA says that Paltalk is suing based on two patents (not one) which, according to TFA relate to "technologies for sharing data among many connected computers so that all users see the same digital environment." TFA does not say Paltalk has a patent on "s

  • Well Atari had the JagLiNk http://www.atariage.com/controller_page.html?SystemID=JAGUAR&ControllerID=22 [atariage.com] for the Jaguar that connect two Jaguars to play head to head. The story didn't say when the patent was originally given but the JagLink has been around since 1994?.

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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