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Zynga and Blizzard Sued Over Game Patent 179

Posted by Soulskill
from the swinging-for-the-fences dept.
eldavojohn writes "Thinking about developing a game involving a 'database driven online distributed tournament system?' Well, you had better talk to Walker Digital or risk a lawsuit, because Walker Digital claims to have patented that 'invention' back in 2002. The patent in question has resulted in some legal matters for the makers of 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 and 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: World at War, Blur, Wolfenstein, DJ Hero 2, Golden Eye 007, World of Warcraft and its expansions, Mafia Wars, and many others.' Walker Digital (parent company of Priceline.com) said it's not sure how much damages are going to be, and requested that through discovery in the court. If you think Walker Digital is not a patent troll, check out their lawsuit from two months ago against Facebook for using privacy controls Walker Digital claims to have patented. It would seem that any online competitive game that uses a database to select and reward contestants in a tournament could potentially fall under this patent — of course, those with the deepest coffers will be cherrypicked first."
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Zynga and Blizzard Sued Over Game Patent

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  • Unclear Intentions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pinkushun (1467193) * on Thursday January 06, 2011 @07:14AM (#34774738) Journal

    Software patents confuse the hell out of me. I mean, reading the patent abstract, it sounds like it could apply to any of thousands of database driven multiplayer tournament systems (games).

    Case in point: I write database driven business applications, and is essentially just reading + writing data, similar to the abstract. Objects have statuses (scores) which pivot around a status hierarchy (levels) which determines if an object can move to the next level (game progression). Certain actions and events are even restricted by the ownership of certain properties and items (inventory/magic items/stats). This abstract could apply to many different softwares.

    It pisses me off how this abstract reads just like it's own name. I wonder if it was filed by drunk 5-year olds...

    • by Steeltoe (98226)

      This being public news and having read about it, we're now all liable for triple damages under the US court of law.

      Cease and desist all your creative and innovative efforts now and go collect your foodstamps at the nearest corner now!

    • by kesuki (321456)

      i call prior art, suing wolfenstein with a 2002 patent? last time i checked 1992 happened before 2002.

      • by lyinhart (1352173)

        i call prior art, suing wolfenstein with a 2002 patent? last time i checked 1992 happened before 2002.

        They're probably talking about the 2009 game [wikipedia.org], which has online multiplayer.

      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        I thought that was odd too, as there is no game actually named Wolfenstein. It is either Wolfenstein 3D or Return to Castle Wolfenstein. If they can type out the name of every Call of Duty iteration, how is it so hard to type out the name of RTCW properly?

        • by ericvids (227598)

          I thought that was odd too, as there is no game actually named Wolfenstein. It is either Wolfenstein 3D or Return to Castle Wolfenstein. If they can type out the name of every Call of Duty iteration, how is it so hard to type out the name of RTCW properly?

          Because they're referring to this game [wolfenstein.com], not RTCW.

          Yeah, I was surprised too. Out of touch with PC games for long.

    • Software patents confuse the hell out of me. I mean, reading the patent abstract, it sounds like it could apply to any of thousands of database driven multiplayer tournament systems (games).

      That's the whole point of patent trolling. Patent a vague and ill-defined concept, wait for a company to make millions in profits, sue them for "infringing" on your vague ideas. It's the legal equivalent of saying "these guys stole my idea before I had it!"

    • Software patents confuse the hell out of me. I mean, reading the patent abstract

      You're supposed to read the claims. The abstract doesn't define the scope of the patent (although it can sometimes be referred to, just like the rest of the specification, for assistance in determining what certain claim terms mean).

      I don't make any promises on being less confused by doing so, though.

      • by Simon80 (874052)
        I'd like to second the first reply with a link to Andrew Tridgell's talk on patent defence for free software developers. It's a must-read for anyone who bothers to look at the patents when they read these articles: http://news.swpat.org/2010/03/transcript-tridgell-patents/ [swpat.org]
      • The description should both describe preferred embodiments sufficiently precise to allow someone skilled in the art to implement it and the way in which the patent distinguishes itself from prior art, at least that's what the USPTO says.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      There is ZERO reason for software patents other than greed. Have you written letters to your congres-critters in your opposition of them? Because if all geeks and techs do is sit around and complain nothing will happen, you haveto complain AT the clueless guys in power to get change started.

      • There is ZERO reason for software patents other than greed.

        Sure if you ignore the desire to recoup money spent to develop the software being patented. The concept of a software patent appears to be sound, but the implementation is fundamentally flawed. The main problem appears to be that the people involved in granting the patents are not qualified enough to understand what they are looking at in the patent application. I'm sure being understaffed and having a backlog of patent applications doesn't help eit

        • by Qzukk (229616)

          We also need to blanket cancel all of the existing patents that read "a means for [solving a problem]". Not only do they fail the basic test of containing the information required to render the patent into practice, they don't describe a specific invention, they only describe the problem. Any solution to that problem is patented.

          And no, "a means for [solving a problem] using THE INTERNET!!!!" (or in this case, "using A DATABASE!!!!") isn't an improvement.

          This "using an X" bullshit is doubly damned since i

          • by Altrag (195300)

            Its not that much different from a patent to "allow variable speeds" by "using A GEARBOX!!!" Of course, back in the days when transmissions would be getting patented, "A GEARBOX" wouldn't be sufficient -- they'd have to get into the details of how the gearbox worked.. details that software patents don't usually contain (or are left pretty vague when they do).

            Really though, I think there's three things that need to happen.
            - Tighter controls on patenting software mechanics. Everyone talks about this. Probl

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          I have yet to see ANY software patent that has any merit or was "hard" to do. Every single one of them are trivial but if you are the first to the door with a patent, you get to hold the industry hostage.

          • I disagree. The problem with your argument is that hindsight is 20/20. Everyone can slap the forehead and go wow I didn't realize there was a need for that, and if I had created that invention then that's the way I'd do it. The real trick is being the one to come up with the invention.
        • by Coren22 (1625475)

          Um, you recoup the money through Copyright. Why is there a need for Patent protection on top of Copyright?

          • Software patents offer much broader business protection than copyright on software. Someone can re-implement the same idea, using the same methods, but new code, and not violate your software copyrights. But that activity would in many cases violate your software patent.

            I'm not saying that's a good thing, but just trying to answer you question.

    • It pisses me off how this abstract reads just like it's own name.

      It goes even deeper than that. Here's a game called "Patent". Players submit a description of something obvious and already existing to a database drive online tournament. If they get in first before other players they are rewarded with points which allows them to submit more descriptions of something obvious and already existing. If they don't get their patent into the tournament first, they lose points to other players. The winner is the one to first manage to patent the idea of the universe and e

      • by zifn4b (1040588)
        Except the game "Patent" doesn't run on software in a computer system. Unless you argue that the universe is a virtual (Turing?) machine in which the game of life runs and we are all actors interacting with objects but I don't think your case is going to hold up in court. Best of luck to you though. Maybe you can cause a few patent troll lawyers heads to explode and do us all a service. :)
    • by Syberz (1170343)
      You obviously don't understand how patterns work. The fact that it's so freaking vague that it can apply to anything makes it an amazing patent! Now its owner can sue anyone and everyone! Good Lord, you talk like patents are supposed to protect intellectual property or something.
  • by SpazmodeusG (1334705) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @07:16AM (#34774750)

    Blizzard really don't have to go far for prior art on this at all. Starcraft 1 had a system that was essentially the same as Starcraft 2's ladder system. You could choose to play a match in the Blizzard ladder system and you'd be ranked and the results stored on the Blizzard database server. The Starcraft 1 ladder was removed in later patches as no one was using it towards the end (they were playing on other custom laddering systems) but it was there in the beginning and it was very similar to what's in Starcraft 2.

    It's actually quite funny that they've chosen to sue the one company that has the most prior art on this.

    • Diablo2 and Battle.net may well cover this more than completely

    • by jonwil (467024)

      Not only does Blizzard have plenty of potential prior art for this (although how applicable this potential prior art is depends on exactly what the patent claims say and not just what the abstract says) but they have an army of lawyers at their disposal and are not afraid to use them.

    • by arbiter1 (1204146)
      I am no legal expert, the way the patent reads to me it seems it could be applied to every game that has online play and automated tournament's
      • by ewanm89 (1052822)
        That seems to be what the patent trolls think too. in other words, how far back do you want to go with regards to prior art, pretty much every flash game on newsgrounds..., how about a shared flat file database of nethack scores on an nfs mount?
    • Except that the prior art date to beat is 22 April 1996, and Starcraft didn't come out until 1999.

      There may be some prior art for some of the claims, but you'd probably have to delve into the depths of MUDding to get it - and much of it may no longer exist.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Blizzard wasn't the first. So the prior art problem is not so much of an issue.

        This is another example yet again of a simple trivial and obvious thing being patented because the application was sprinkled with a little jargon.

        All any of the relevant companies did (including the patent troll) is to translate a well known algorithm into another language (probably SQL and C).

      • by Kreigaffe (765218)

        well.... not really. I read the patent and every step of the way seemed to be involved with a tournament that featured an entry fee, so there's that easy escape card.

        Also at any point in the patent if you replace "controller" with "a person" -- that is, if you have people looking at paper instead having a computer and database automatically checking things out -- well, there's a ton of prior art for that, and that's just flat-out not patentable. I mean.. it IS.. but it shouldn't be, because it's obviou

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Not just prior art, but who in the hell isn't this obvious to? There needs to be some kind of extreme punishment for these patent trolls. For instance, sue someone for patnet infringement and lose, you have to pay triple what you sued for, plus the other side's legal fees.

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        Not just prior art, but why in the hell isn't this obvious to?

        Because nothing magic is obvious. This is inside a computer, so it's done by the magical wizard in the box.

  • of "database driven online distributed tournament systems" that were popular even before 2002....

    - utopia
    - archmage

    what else?

    • by TheDarAve (513675)

      Tradewars 2002 after v1.3d would qualify under that patent, and that would be early 90s.

    • QM Promisance

      • by Quietust (205670)
        I don't think that game qualifies, since it's not a tournament system and it's not distributed. Besides, if it did qualify, there's no reason to single out my version of Promisance from the dozens of other versions that have been released over the years...
    • When I read "a 'database driven online distributed tournament system" I immediately thought of the Cases ladder system. Back in '97 I was playing yahoo pool and used cases for our tourmaments, exactly the sort of thing this patent claioms to cover. A quick Google shows that Cases is still alive and well.

      This is a prime example of why software patents are so very bad. It's far too generic and obvious an idea to patent. How it got granted I don't know. It beggers belief. To sit on it for so many years before

    • by Steeltoe (98226)

      But were these types of systems documented in a public journal or did they apply for a patent before this one?

      Otherwise, it's proprietary and not prior art. EVEN if Blizzard already created this type of systems in earlier iterations of their products, it's not defensible.

      Maybe if it's public domain, GPL or some sort of open source, it could count if you're willing to place your bets in the US court of law..

      The more expensive and risky route is to try to overthrow such patents on the grounds that they're obv

  • I hate patent trolls, but I hate that Farmville shit I get spammed with even worse. I hope the troll and Zynga both spend millions on lawyers and then settle for peanuts.

    • We should not hope for a settlement in a patent troll case, however tiny the amount. Patent trolls love settlements, because a settlement does not set a legal precedent, and leaves the troll open to sue more companies. Here's the model patent trolls follow, especially for ridiculous patents like this one.
      1) Patent
      2) Sue for billions
      3) Settle or license the tech.
      4) ...
      5) Profit!

      Companies like Walker Digital don't really want their crappy patent to be actually contested in court; if it gets thrown out
  • by GF678 (1453005) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @07:29AM (#34774804)

    If I were the judge presiding over this case, the first thing I'd do is ask Walker Digital to explain why it took eight years before they decided to start suing publishers/developers, despite there being a number of games released earlier which supposedly infringed on their patent. If they couldn't reasonably explain the delay in such a way as to allay my suspicious that they simply wanted to hold off litigation until they had a lot of guys to go after for maximum returns, I'd tell them (in legal speak of course) to fuck off.

    But I am no lawyer of course, and I have no idea if it would be as simple as that.

    • by ledow (319597)

      It could certainly go against them to choose not to initiate lawsuits on similar violations that they were (or reasonably should have been) aware of. It's not as cast-iron as trademark law (where not defending your mark means you can lose your rights to it) but it's certainly something that would need explanation if there was a hint of deliberate action in that respect.

      That said, it will still cost thousands to even get to that point and the worst that would happen is probably the case would just get throw

    • by arivanov (12034) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @07:53AM (#34774880) Homepage

      There is nothing illegal in waiting for as long as you want as far as patents are concerned.

      It is standard practice to wait for companies that are still developing their business cases and products until they can be visited by the lawyers. The approach is originally attributed to IBM. It left all the PC clone manufacturers start their business, develop it for up to a year or two prior to being visited by two nice guys in suits with a briefcase containing patents, IPR agreement and an NDA which specified that the visit was to be kept secret.

      They made a significant portion of their early PC revenue from that racket until they ran into Compaq.

      IMO, allowing this practice is one of the problems with the current patent system. Most "trolls" use patents that have been developed by other companies, stayed in the war chest for a decade or so and have been deemed to outlive their usefulness so they can be sold. If there are clear and reasonable timeframes for discovery, filing, etc the entire troll business model will go away. There will be a side benefit that companies will start disclosing what they are actually using internally in their software and hardware to ensure that that they comply to the "disclosure" timeframe and the troll cannot claim "discovery" after the "invention" has been out in the field for 15 years.

      • Apricot were mildly offended by the threat of legal action, since at the time they were purchasing the motherboards for their systems FROM IBM.
      • Laches [wikipedia.org] and estoppel by acquiescence [wikipedia.org]. Vigilantibus non dormientibus æquitas subvenit.

        Even if that weren't the case, this patent could easily be described as "Poker Tournements... on the internet!", and online cash poker has been around since '98 (Planet Poker [wikipedia.org] being the first example).
    • Lawyer speak for that particular phrase is "I refer you to the response with respect to the case of Arkell v. Pressdram (1971)."
  • Multi-User Dungeon (Score:5, Informative)

    by maroberts (15852) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @07:33AM (#34774818) Homepage Journal

    MUD Essex University 1978-1987ish - kept a record of your level (thus a database), being rewarded with increased abilities every level until you got to Witch/Wizard level, and allowed remote play.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MUD [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/ecsjun84.htm [mud.co.uk]

    Obviously it depends on exactly how the claims of the patent are phrased, but from the abstract it would appear that this constitutes substantial prior art nearly 20 years before the 2001 filing date.

    A quick look at some of the claims show it would probably be prior art against some of them. The game stored level and sex, (claims 1-2), it was a game of skill (claim 3). Claims 8,9,10 appear to be fairly generic method of interacting with any remote game, leaving only the association of payment with the game. I'm sure online games needing payment were present in the 80's too

    In summary, the patent appears to have been awarded for something that is obvious and where prior art already exists

    • by Shivetya (243324)

      add on "over the internets" which in their speak is "database driven online distributed tournament system" and suddenly you are patenting a whole new item in the world of lawyers and trolling companies.

      There are many items I have seen raised here which I clearly remember being done in the old BBS days gone by, most of which are being claimed as "new" because they add phrases pertaining to abilities widely used on the "internet"

      • There are many items I have seen raised here which I clearly remember being done in the old BBS days gone by, most of which are being claimed as "new" because they add phrases pertaining to abilities widely used on the "internet"

        No, you haven't, and no, they aren't.

        There's a doctrine in patent drafting called "claim differentiation." Legally, a dependent claim is narrower than the independent claim it depends from. If you think of the independent claim as a large space in a Venn diagram, the dependent claim is a subset of that. Therefore, the independent claim must include more.

        So, when you have the following:

        1. A system for doing X, comprising: a client and a server connected via a network, the client configured to do X.

        2. The system of claim 1, wherein the network is the internet.

        ... that doesn't mean you're patenting "the internet". All it means is that, in claim 1, "network" includes the internet

  • Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @07:35AM (#34774828) Homepage

    And this is the problem with even doing business in a country that allows such abstract "patents", especially software patents. You don't need to be in the patent business, or invention, or even be in an area where you expect to have to research patents for running a business, and you don't even need to actually violate any valid patent - you can still sued out of existence if you're not big enough to fend such things off.

    It's not the "yet-another-big-company-sued-for-obviousness" stories that are the problem - how many tiny little outfits just settled out of court instead of fight something they *know* they should win? You don't point at Google first, you take lots of small companies and get their settlements in order to provide you with some authenticity and then go for the big boys, and you'll never hear about those small-fry that feel they have to pay up because it's too costly for them to annoy the patent-holders or defend against them in court.

    Seriously - stop doing business in places that have software patents. It's a gamble that is going to cost you big if you are unlucky enough to step on a patent-troll's foot. I hereby patent "method to determine if a user of a game is in a country subject to software patent laws for the purpose of denial of access to such users", by the way.

  • I have to admit I'm torn by this story. Sure software patents are the bane of all that's fine and decent in the world, but Zynga is the bane of all that's fine and decent in gaming. So a part of me wants to see the two parties sue each other into oblivion... but then, I tend to like Blizzard's games... Sigh... why does the world have to be so darn complicated?
    • Re:Poor Zynga (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ledow (319597) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @09:26AM (#34775298) Homepage

      Nobody forces you to play a game. Zynga have made a lot of money by giving people games that they voluntarily want to play and, in some cases, buy. Just because it's not *your* (or my) type of game, doesn't mean they are somehow inherently the antithesis of gaming. I don't understand people that pay monthly subscriptions to play crappy click-fest MMORPG's just to get to the next "virtual" level but it's hard to say that they are the "bane" of gaming.

      I spent a small fortune on Steam over Christmas, on an already bursting-at-the-seams account. I got 75 new games for less than the price of a Wii. Do you know what I ended up playing the most (without intending to) and what I ended up gifting to friends who also wouldn't get off it? Flight Control HD. It's a flash-like game where you draw flight-paths for cartoon planes to have them land at their relevant airport runway without hitting each other. I could write it in a few hours in any programming language that lets you manipulate pixels or draw bitmaps. Thing is, I have extracted more gaming value from that than expensive, new, 3D, top-range FPS with advanced physics, realistic graphics and online gaming. If you go by hours-of-entertainment-per-price, it rates extremely highly. My previous big-value-purchase? Altitude. Fly a little 2D plane around while shooting other people doing the same. (And no, I'm not plane-obsessed in any way - they just happen to both be fun games). It cost me £3 and I've played 200+ hours and even set up my own server for it. Grand Theft Auto IV? I got it on the Steam Christmas sales because it worked out to be about 3 pounds, but even GTA 3 was only 10-15 hours of play for me and cost about £30 at the time (I didn't even buy GTA 3, someone else gifted it to me). I haven't even bothered to download it yet - I'll leave it until I'm bored of the other 74 games I bought this Christmas and have nothing else to play. There are *very* few big name, "complex" games that can give me value anywhere near a little mess-around game. And if that value is present, even when I *can* see it (e.g. Half-Life 2 when it first came out) it has to work REALLY hard to get me to part with my money.

      I don't think I played any Zygna titles except for Farmville and that was mostly to see what the fuss was about (I was late to Facebook but eventually succumbed to using it as an online photo gallery, and - mainly to prove a point - in a week of playing Farmville for free for 10 minutes a day I had something valued about 10 times what my closest "obsessive" friends had managed in years with their DLC purchases... it was just a matter of seeing what provided the greatest return on investment without actually spending *real* money to buy things). I don't play their games, I find them a bit too simplistic and boring and aimed towards making profit. But hell, I've played many more worse games that cost lots of *real* money.

      Zygna are making money from people who are willingly parting with cash and giving it to them rather than to companies like Valve - there's a reason for that. Without Zygna, they *wouldn't* be giving their money to Valve or other high-end-gaming producers anyway. They haven't *ruined* gaming, they've just found a niche that most people who consider themselves serious gamers (if ever there was a contradiction in terms, that's it) don't like. Good luck to them - they aren't hurting anyone. But if they could stop everyone else from spamming my Facebook page with crap by default, that would be nice too.

      • But if they could stop everyone else from spamming my Facebook page with crap by default, that would be nice too.

        Why is anyone complaining about spam from Zynga games? I've blocked them using the built in tools and I only see the very rare personal post by a player concerning the game they play, now. It's been like that for me for over a month.

        • by ledow (319597)

          Block FarmVille.
          Block FrontierVille.
          Block CityVille.
          Block MafiaWars.
          Block PetVille.

          Fishville, YoVille, .... the list goes on. Although it's partly Facebook's fault (that you can't block a publisher, or categories like "Games"), and partly people's fault (I really don't give a shit, so stop pressing the button to "Share" just so you get some in-game item), there's no need for them ALL to, by default, push to your friends pages, or for them to all run off a unique application page. And everytime they bring

          • by gfreeman (456642)

            Your problem appears to be with Facebook, not Zynga. If they had a "block games" button, you'd press it.

            Then again, your friends are playing these games, and you are not - so to them you are being the stick in the mud, the buzzkill, shouting at them to get off your lawn. Maybe you should put up with it, or quit Facebook. Or get friends that don't like to play games so you'll not have to see them enjoying themselves.

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Thursday January 06, 2011 @09:20AM (#34775262)

    I wonder if anyone has tried or even contemplated suing the Patent Office for awarding overly broad and obvious patents. There would not be so much trouble if the Patent Office actually did their job and denied these kinds of patents.

    • So, can you show that the claims were obvious, in accordance with the law?

      The prior art date to beat is 22 April 1996, and you have to show - not just make unsubstantiated assertions - that the claims were obvious over the prior art as of that date. That means citing references that cover the limitations in the claims, and substantiating an argument for why those references can be combined and why any differences between the references and the claims would have been obvious. (The whole story is a bit more [wikipedia.org]

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        This "patent" could be a homework assignment from a University class in databases.

        The interesting part isn't even the computing aspect.

        This is just e.patent-trolling.

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        1. Running a tournament that has an entry fee and requires personal data from each player is not patentable.
        2. Storing a player's information on paper is not patentable.
        3. Running a tournament where the outcome of previous tournaments influence new tournaments is not patentable.
        4. Storing information in a database is not patentable.
        5. Client server interaction is not patentable.
        6. Using the Internet is not patentable.

        Yet using a database to store player information about an on-line tournament is patentable?

        • It sounds like you're arguing that it's not patentable subject matter, rather than obviousness. Those are two totally different beasts. At the time this application was examined in 2002, State Street [wikipedia.org] was still the controlling case law for patentable subject matter in process claims. Bilski v. Kappos is the current case law, though, and it's what counts in any current litigation.

          I wouldn't hazard a guess as to whether these claims would pass muster with the Federal Circuit or Supreme Court or not. There

      • The problem is with the "obviousness" requirement of the patent system.

        This requirement was included in order to prevent "well duh" patents, but there is no scientific way to quantize "well, duh, that's simple iteration". Its not as if the patent office has a staff of technicians "ordinarily skilled in the art" that proclaim "well, duh" upon seeing a rediculous patent... No, instead they must PROVE that the ideas are obvious by discovering prior art... The sad thing is, there is no way to search the entir

    • I wonder if anyone has tried or even contemplated suing the Patent Office for awarding overly broad and obvious patents. There would not be so much trouble if the Patent Office actually did their job and denied these kinds of patents.

      Look up Sovereign Immunity.

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        Look up Federal Tort Claims Act. Claim:Through negligence in improperly vetting patents the US Government do cause us to to lose $xx in lawyers fees, man hours and profit and is thereby liable for that amount. Sounds like a tort to me.

        • Look up Federal Tort Claims Act. Claim:Through negligence in improperly vetting patents the US Government do cause us to to lose $xx in lawyers fees, man hours and profit and is thereby liable for that amount. Sounds like a tort to me.

          Nope. No negligence, since the ordinary standard of care is that which is practiced by the patent office. Therefore, they are meeting it. Second, the only people with standing under your theory are those who have been sued for infringement. Third, damages would be far too speculative and unprovable. Fourth, 1346(b) only gives jurisdiction "under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurr

          • Nope. No negligence, since the ordinary standard of care is that which is practiced by the patent office. Therefore, they are meeting it.

            By that logic, so long as they are always negligent, they're not negligent.

            But, in any case, I can believe that the US is still in the 18th century mindset that the government doesn't have to answer to anyone when it makes mistakes.

    • Canada looked at joining it's patent system with the US only to conclude that the US patent system is a joke. Yes, the official report used the word joke. The US patent system has since gotten worse

      Obvious according to the US system is something that isn't already covered by another patent. Thus the person that got the patent for emoticons represented by graphics on mobile devices was not obvious since there wasn't already a patent for it. Where in the Canadian system it would have been considered obvious
  • ... hmmmm ... suspicious ..
  • I recall back in the 80s, when we were developing graphics displays that some bunch of lawyers in California bought up some IP, and turned up a patent for use of XOR function to put a cursor on a graphics screen, and use XOR to restore the graphics again when it moved. The patent predated IBM, HP and Sun's use on unix workstations by a few years. It sounded obvious to me at the time, but they got money out of it. What they didn't realise was that they should not have accepted the first offer from the three
  • Claim 1-3 cover all client server games with persistent data.

    The oldest such game I know of is from 1971, but I'm sure there are examples predates that.

    Claim 4-5 adds payment to that. That was not common on the early internet, but common on the for payment BBS's of the 80's.

    Claim 6-7 adds "prizes" to the first claim, without defining the term. It would seem to cover any client-server game with a high-score

    Claim 8-10 add a physical computer to the above claims: "No sir, this is not a software patent, it is a

  • On one hand I absolutely loath patent trolls. But on the other hand Blizzard's own behaviors makes me wish they get nailed, badly.

  • Would it be Obvious to say that this patent is Obvious?
  • One of the parts of my job that irks me is that I work for a company that does "damages discovery" for cases like this. Our firm gets hired to determine what the damages are. It is a complete load of crap the way they determine these awards. The fact that a company like Walker Digital can go to court without even knowing what they are using for in the first place just shows how broken the system really is. It fails any sanity check what so ever. It baffles my mind that a judge would not throw this out

    • by Rakarra (112805)

      Judge, "You're telling me that YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOUR 'BUSINESS MODEL' IS WORTH?!"

      Walker, "No your honor, we have no idea what our patent is worth."

      Actually, that makes sense. The dollar value of a patent is going to depend on how useful and used it is, and the only way to find that out is through discovery.

      • by dave562 (969951)

        This is where the system is broken. If a person or company is going to patent something, they should be patenting it because they intend to use it. If they intend to use it, they should know what it is worth.

        This system we currently have were patents are granted to people who are not using them, and are instead simply viewing a patent as a mechanism for making money is disgusting.

  • "of course, those with the deepest coffers will by cherrypicked first."

    I would be surprised if that were to happen. A company like Activision has the resources to defend itself. A startup, however, usually doesn't. Rarely do you start with the big guy; instead it makes sense to try picking off the little guys first, since successful cases strengthen your hand to win future cases. These frivolous lawsuits can destroy small businesses, but the lawyers and board of Walker Digital won't care.

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