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Patents The Courts Games

RuneScape Developer Victorious Over Patent Troll 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the vanquishing-trolls dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Gamasutra reports that a US District Court judge has dismissed the patent infringement lawsuit brought against RuneScape developer Jagex discussed previously on Slashdot. Judge David Folsom last week dismissed online chat company Paltalk's claims that Jagex infringed on Paltalk patents relating to online network communications. The judge's ruling only resolved Jagex's case. Microsoft settled with Paltalk for an undisclosed sum in 2009 after the online communication technology company sued over the patents in a $90 million claim. That settlement opened the door to Paltalk's claims against other game companies, including Blizzard, Turbine, SOE and NCSoft. Paltalk alleged in the Jagex-related suit that it had suffered 'tens of millions of dollars' in damages. Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard said in a statement, 'It is exceedingly unfortunate that the US legal system can force a company with a sole presence in Cambridge, UK to incur a seven-digit expense and waste over a year of management time on a case with absolutely no merit,' and that Jagex 'will not hesitate to vigorously defend our position against any patent trolls who bring lawsuits against us in the future.'"
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RuneScape Developer Victorious Over Patent Troll

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @02:40AM (#34278962)
    RuneScape managed to run+escape the patent troll?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @02:45AM (#34278984)

    people still play runescape...?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:09AM (#34279062)

      Play what?

    • by subanark (937286) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:34AM (#34279148)
      Maybe you've stopped playing, but runescape is a game aimed at middle school and high school kids. Its simple, has a free ad supported version along with a low cost subscription non-ad version. It can be played from public computers without needing to install any software right in your browser. It provides the standard grind for rewards (with skill points you get to keep forever).

      With runescape you get a good deal for what you pay for. It is falls in that nice nitch between causal (farmville) and hardcore (WoW) MMO gamers.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:40AM (#34279170)

        WoW is not exactly hardcore. Hardcore games have complex game mechanics and a steep learning curve. WoW is casual, hence the millions of players.

        • by ooshna (1654125) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:51AM (#34279212)
          Dwarf Fortress [www.dfwk.ru] anyone?
        • by subanark (937286) on Friday November 19, 2010 @12:24PM (#34282456)
          Wow does have complex game mechanics. The learning curve is not steep however. What I say is hardcore is relative to runescape and games that nearly play themselves like farmville. If you play WoW to the "end" it gets hard. Really insanely hard. The hardest boss in the game, Lich King on hard mode, only a small fraction of the 11 million players have beat. I would venture to guess its below 0.1%. To see his strategy: http://www.wowwiki.com/Lich_King_%28Icecrown_Citadel_tactics%29. You take 25 players with you to try and kill him. Its a 15 minute fight, and anyone dieing can easily mean you try again. Just go to that web page and count the number of ways someone can instantly die for making a single mistake. As an added bonus, you only get 50 unsuccessful tries on him and the 3 wing bosses per week. Yes, many players will use up all 50 of those attempts. Also, he has been "out" for about 8 months now.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @08:15AM (#34280238)

        I used to play it a lot in my early teens. I was a paid member for a year or two, too. Eventually, I grew out of it: Not as much because of the game itself but because of the community and games in general. (With college and two part time jobs, I don't really have time to play any games... And it isn't great to play MMO where most players are significantly younger than you are. Nothing wrong with the game itself: I could play it casually if there would be more like me.)

        Every once in a while I log back in for some nostalgia kicks (and also, because of professional interest. As a somewhat JAVA-focused student of software engineering, I can appreciate the Java based 3D MMO client in a whole new way). I never get the nostalgia kicks but I always get amazed on how much has improved since the last visit. The server sizes grow, there are new servers (though the growth has dwindled, I see no signs of the game dying) and the game itself is constantly improved: New graphics, new features, new skills...

        Sure, it isn't wow: the game isn't good for the massive raids where dozens of people shout at teamspeak... But it is a solid game. At first, you level up fast and get constant feeling of achievement from that... After you get past that point in WoW, you hit the level cap and go to raids for better gear. In RS, it simply gets very slow to level up (very few people have achieved the caps) and people concentrate more on the social interaction. Getting to know new players, helping noobs, occasionally mining or fishing a bit or trying out the latest quest (there is new one like every week or so)... I sure hope that a game like that can keep its place among other MMOs. I might actually register as a paid member, again: I don't have much time to play but Jagex deserves all the support that the nostalgic players can now afford to give it... The fact that they took a stand against patent troll simply solidifies that stance.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @12:09PM (#34282278)

        It provides the standard grind for rewards (with skill points you get to keep forever).

        This is why I stopped playing RuneScape: it's a game of patience. Sitting in a cave for two weeks hitting some creature to gain a few levels isn't fun.

      • by sunfly (1248694) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @02:12AM (#34289520)
        Amazed at how many parents play RS. I have talked to several that started playing just checking into what their kids were doing and got hooked. I made a character helping my wife one day, and still play a few hours a month. Casual enough it does not feel hard core (I would never play WOW for instance), yet deep enough to hold your interest. Jagex mentioned they were even surprised when they studied their demographics, but I have never seen them published anywhere.
    • by lgw (121541) on Friday November 19, 2010 @10:14AM (#34281068) Journal

      people still play runescape...?

      WoW has 12M subscribers, RuneScape has 10M, others are far behind. In terms of player, rather than subscribers, it's hard to get hard numbers, but Dofus claims 10M, and I hear there's a free Asian MMO with > 25M players (but can't find evidence of what game that is).

  • Money (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @02:46AM (#34278988)

    Microsoft has money, why do they always settle with patent trolls? They can afford to fight, and probably win, a lot of these cases. Perhaps the trolls know this and agree to settle for pittance, rather than getting in a court battle.

    • Re:Money (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kailoran (887304) on Friday November 19, 2010 @02:50AM (#34279002)
      If Microsoft fought patent trolls they would be in effect fighting the entire patent system, and could end up accidentally overthrowing all software patents. That wouldn't be good for Microsoft.
      • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday November 19, 2010 @05:19AM (#34279494) Journal

        MS is not SETTLING with patent trolls, it is funding them. MS can afford patent troll payouts, 90 million is peanuts to them. And even if it was 9 billion, then that would be price for burdening all their competitors with endless patent troll battles. I let the tick feed on my rich blood and release a billion offspring on my enemies who cannot afford the loss of blood.

      • Re:Money (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 91degrees (207121) on Friday November 19, 2010 @05:20AM (#34279508) Journal
        I think this is Microsoft's reason. I think that "That wouldn't be good for Microsoft." is simply wrong.

        Microsoft is sued a lot for patent infringement in suits with various levels of merit. Even if they win, they lose since it costs money to defend these cases.

        Microsoft will occasionally licence their patents and will occasionally sue for patent infringement bt this is a very small part of their business. It's also something that is largely avoided. Microsoft has big enough PR problems withut being accused of being a patent troll as well. They lose a lot more in patents litigation than they gain. Even being used to support their monopoloy only has limited success. TomTom's settlement didn't require TomTom to switch to Windows CE, and it would not have made sense for them to do so since that would involve porting to a very different architecture. The easiest solution for most violators is simply to stop using the patented technology.

        Mostly they cross-licence. The effect of a eliminating patents would be that they could still use their partners' technology but wouldn't need to waste time on formal agreements.

        So the result of patents being abolished for software would be that Microsoft would lose a little in litigation, gain a lot in reduced defensive legal costs, and still have access to a lot of technology.
    • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:19AM (#34279098)

      Look at the Immersion rumble lawsuit. MS settled with Immersion, part of the settlement was that Immersion was to turn their guns on Sony and then pay MS back with the money Immersion got from Sony.

      So MS bolster's Immersions patents by settling and making them look valid, also giving Immersion money to sustain a lawsuit against Sony. MS gets to help crimp Sony's business and help keep out other companies from the gaming market without looking like a patent troll themselves. Well, until the truth leaks out.

      Short version: they're scum.

      http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/archives/147162.asp [seattlepi.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:48AM (#34279840)

      > Microsoft has money, why do they always settle with patent trolls?

      Microsoft has money, AND no scruples, AND lawyers specialized in the field. They could smash any patent troll except for biggest companies (you know, IBM, Apple, Oracle...), in fact keeping the oligopoly alive and well is the reason such a broken system has backers.

      On the other hand if I were MS and wanted to funnel funds away, I'd set up a company in a fiscal paradise, or control it in some other indirect way. Then I'd acquire/register patents, sue myself, and lose for an amount of money. It's a win-win for me as I both control others through patents (see fat lawsuit) AND make MS haters think patent hurt me, promoting justice.

      This story reinforces my theory.

    • by Andy_R (114137) on Friday November 19, 2010 @07:15AM (#34279962) Homepage Journal

      My guess (and it is just a guess) is that a settlement for an undisclosed sum with Microsoft is beneficial for both sides, if that sum is in the region of $1.

      Microsoft gets a potential expensive irritant go away and sue their competitors instead, and the troll gets to scare people by saying 'Microsoft folded, so you should too' to everyone else.

  • by cstec (521534) on Friday November 19, 2010 @02:46AM (#34278992)

    And so where do we get to donate to cover said 7 figure expense and otherwise bitchslap said patent trolls?

    Checkbook's right here. And they still suck.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:04AM (#34279046)

    Hi, this is Stephen from Trolls for Patent Trolls. Located in the heart of East Texas, we serve the dual-purpose of promoting GNAA membership, linking to Goatse, starting flamewars, and supporting unsubstantiated patent claims. If you'd like to donate $1 to the cause, we think you'd really like to donate $1000. Support hardworking companies like SCO and Paltalk in their quest to leech money off people who actually design and create things. We also have bi-weekly group viewings of Gay Niggers from Outer Space, with discussion.

  • by evanism (600676) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:11AM (#34279070) Journal
    What a monstrous pile of drivel. Pages and pages of confused circular talk couched in language so broad you could apply it to anything you want. It's insane when a patent is awarded for something like this, when it was designed for a lightbulb, or an electric motor or gunpowder, but this pseudo-IT-speak is dreadful. I would say the lawyer who wrote it didn't know what the Internet was or how it operates. Bloody American patent system
  • New Boss (Score:5, Funny)

    by SnakeEater251 (872793) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:17AM (#34279088) Homepage
    In a few weeks, Jagex will release an update to Runescape that will allow you to fight a brand new boss, Paltalk the giant Troll.
  • by Arguendo (931986) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:39AM (#34279164)
    I hate patent trolls as much as the next guy, but it's a little misleading to complain about being hauled into the U.S. legal system as a foreigner. U.S. patents only have legal effect for U.S. sales. If you sell significant enough quantities to make a patent suit worthwhile in the U.S., you've got a decent U.S. presence. That said, congratulations for beating a troll in East Texas - and before trial no less. Not an easy thing to do.
  • by bemenaker (852000) on Friday November 19, 2010 @09:03AM (#34280506)
    Reclaim your legal fee's and make them hurt!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @09:47AM (#34280848)

    Then I discovered that Runescape was basically almost like a carbon copy of Paltalk and made Paltalk completely redundant by virtue of its specific messaging mechanism!

    Since then I have spent a great deal of money on Runescape doing everything I would normally use PalTalk for! Somehow there is something distasteful about the company but I guess I have just stuck with it!

    "Joan"*, TX

    *anonymised for fear of harassment and witness tampering by the defendant

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @10:42AM (#34281350)

    ...should be held liable for all costs in defense against their insanity.

    • by spike1 (675478) on Friday November 19, 2010 @12:01PM (#34282176)

      In the UK, the loser in such cases is often forced to pay the costs of both parties by default.

      Which is how it should be.
      Why should an innocent person be bankrupted by legal fees just because some greedy infantile pathetic idiot sued him when he didn't do anything that deserved suing?

      • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Friday November 19, 2010 @12:19PM (#34282402)

        In the UK, the loser in such cases is often forced to pay the costs of both parties by default.

        Which is how it should be.
        Why should an innocent person be bankrupted by legal fees just because some greedy infantile pathetic idiot sued him when he didn't do anything that deserved suing?

        Which fails if you're so vastly outgunned. You get sued by $MOVIE_STUDIO for pirating some movies, and they walk into the court with 3 lawyers billing out at $1000/hr. All you've got is a lawyer working on the cheap. You win, they pay the piddly $100/hr your lawyer charged. They win, you not only pay the $100M you owe, but the $4M in billable hours (4 lawyers * 1000 hours each) as well. And in the US (and probalby many other places), he who has money wins. And attempts to appeal that fail, well your $100M may turn into $1M, but now you've racked up another $500k in legal fees (125 hours each), so you are stuck with $4.5M in legal fees with $1M settlement. And it may get appealed again.

        Loser pays only works if the amount paid is the lower of the two bills. You lose and your lawyer was working pro-bono? Zip for them! Then again, it can lead to people trying to sue companies and the company then uses a lowballed one for defense. Sure they lose, but if you spent $250/hr on a lawyer and the company spent $100/hr, well, you just lost $150/hr out of your settlement, which can mean you win in principle, but you end up owing your lawyer money.

        You can make it asset-based, but that has its own issues as well.

        There's no sane way to do it equally amongst all parties that won't end up benefitting companies with money in some way. Perhaps if judges exercise discretion - in cases where there's a vast gulf between the plaintiff and defendant in ability to pay, the one with less means to pay (e.g., corp vs. person) doesn't pay winner's lawyer fees. But if it goes the other way, then not only are fees paid by loser (they could afford their team of lawyers, they can afford one more), but a punitive amount is awarded for trying to outgun the proceedings. But that puts too much sense into the justice system.

        • by spike1 (675478) on Friday November 19, 2010 @10:04PM (#34288434)

          No system is perfect, but at least with this one, fear of losing a lawsuit can help stem the tide of frivolous lawsuits. Unfortunately, a lot of scumbag lawyers are doing the old "no win, no fee" thing now and the UK is beginning to look almost as bad and litigious as the USA.

          Still got a bit to go before it catches up though, and as it seems america is still moving forward (backwards, shirley, Ed), the UK might be playing catchup for quite a while.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @12:04PM (#34282220)

    They piss and moan about abuses of the legal system but suing a bot maker (Jagex lost) seems to not bother them.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @01:53PM (#34283382)

      Wait, it’s not okay to try to go after somebody who makes a product designed solely to help people break your terms of service?

      I mean, that’s like taking the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” analogy except that in this case, guns do kill people, in fact that’s the only thing you can possibly use them for.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 23, 2010 @11:02AM (#34317636)

    Now that everyone's jumping on the NPE bandwagon, being an NPE (or "patent troll [generalpatent.com]") has almost become downright respectable lately. There is one reason that the NPE business model has become increasingly popular: it works. It is also legal, and often helps protect independent inventors and SMEs from exploitation of their intellectual property by larger, more powerful entities. Like it or not, NPEs are here to stay.

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