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The Courts Government Entertainment Games News Sues NCSoft Over MMO-Patent 261

Lulfas writes " 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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  • 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:dumb shit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bleh-of-the-huns ( 17740 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:34PM (#26264599)

    Seriously... its people like you that give everyone else a bad name... if you have something constructive to add (yes his address and such might be useful for a reasonable campaign, if it is indeed the correct address and your not just an asshat trying to fuck with someone else...) great, but then you wish arson on the guy, it makes anything you just said totally invalid,.

  • 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.
  • by Eskarel ( 565631 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:02PM (#26264781)

    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 suicidal it would be to sue them) well before their recent troubles.

  • Re:dumb shit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:04PM (#26264793) Homepage Journal

    Please, someone burn this fuckers house down. What an asshole.

    As satisfying as this must have been to write, it was very poorly considered (unless you are outside of the reach of US law enforcement). Free speech doesn't include declaring a target and asking people to burn their house down.

    And seriously, the whole internet witch hunt thing is seriously lame. I've seen too many of these moronic quests with a bunch of intertards chasing after often wrongly targeted people because they think it's giving them some mission in life.

    The guy wrote a patent. Big shit. He was probably some working stiff working for the man filling out his TPS patent submission, and the company was only working within the idiotic allowances provided to them by the completely retarded patent system. As the old saying goes, don't hate the player, hate the game. It is entirely true.

    Though this whole story has given me great joy remembering spending a couple of night trolling Worlds Apart or whatever they called it. It was remarkable how much you could piss people off standing between their virtual avatar and some crud avatar they are conversing with. I guess they really needed the eye contact.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:38PM (#26265005)
    since your examples are simply more instances of prior art.
  • 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 DustyShadow ( 691635 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @12:02AM (#26265111) Homepage

    Having read the patent summary

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

  • Re:Prior Art? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Snotman ( 767894 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @01:17AM (#26265449)
    How about this as a MMO without 3D - []? Seems like this maybe considered prior art as far back as 1990 except for 3D which I think is more of a rendering detail and not novel invention.
  • Re:dumb shit (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @02:26AM (#26265711)

    While I disagree with the burning down the house part, parent is spot on. I'm sick to death of people performing morally reprehensible actions and hiding behind "the company" or "the job" as they do.

    Everybody has choices about what they do. If your job makes you take morally repugnant actions and you comply, and continue to stay in that job, YOU are morally repugnant.

    And no, 'I have a family/mortgage/car payment/hooker addiction' etc doesn't save you and doesn't make you even a little bit right, or what you do even a little bit okay. It is still your choice, so enough with the excuses. Take responsibility for what you have done and who you are.

    Companies are made of people. If people didn't have poor ethics, companies wouldn't either.

    It's even worse that they're going after NCSoft, who are facing real dificulties right now. On that note, I hope this vile, wretched, blood-sucking, shit eating company is put out of business for good.

  • by dougisfunny ( 1200171 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @02:27AM (#26265713)

    would "draw distance" be considered fallout of excess avatars?

  • 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 make. Patent attorneys and lawyers of other companies (NC-Soft for instance) wishing to defend themselves can contact me via (amongst other places).

  • Re:Prior Art? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by samkass ( 174571 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @09:06PM (#26274467) Homepage Journal

    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.

    I don't know how UO or EQ were implemented, but they'd be the obvious candidates for prior art on many if not all of the claims. Everquest, though, was first released in 1999 and their inventions may not predate the patent's. Ultima Online, though, released in 1997 is probably the best bet.

Trap full -- please empty.