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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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  • Re:Prior Art? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 29, 2008 @09:46PM (#26264279)

    No probably about it, you're spot on right there.

    Between Meridian 59, UO, EQ Mankind, the 236423875648154166935198635162538713568653 (give or take) mud codebases both open source and proprietary ...and probably a bunch of other things i know nothing about.

  • 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!>
  • Re:Prior Art? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by digitalunity ( 19107 ) <digitalunity AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:10PM (#26264449) Homepage

    Won't matter. They chose NCSoft because they will be insolvent in February. The suit was filed now in hopes that they will end up winning by default judgement, which will give them leverage in future negotations with other victims.

    There is no upside for NCSoft to fight it since any money spent is just less that can be disbursed internally. I hope other MMO publishers will pony up for NCSoft to see this suit through.

  • 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...]

  • Re:Prior Art? - WTH? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JSBiff ( 87824 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @10:51PM (#26264699) Journal

    NCSoft has Lineage and Lineage II which, though not very popular in the US, I believe are very popular in Korea (which is where NCSoft started). As the other poster in this thread commented, the City of Heroes/City of Villains game, as far as I know, is still quite popular and is making money. Sure, Tabula Rasa is being shut down, but where are you getting the idea that the whole company is going bankrupt?

  • by cpu_fusion ( 705735 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:06PM (#26264803)

    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: []

    Now look at the dates for release of Ultima Online and Everquest: [] []

    Also if you look at the claims for the patent it requires CLIENT software that does considerably more client-state tracking than Telnet ever did for text muds.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:12PM (#26264839)

    Back in the 1980s one thing RCA Aerospace & Defense did was 3d simulators used for military training. The machines were huge, but were designed for, and provided, scalable 3d worlds with which trainees interacted in real time. The Florida operations were the location where this was; I remember visiting there and seeing demos.

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

    by unity100 ( 970058 ) on Monday December 29, 2008 @11:13PM (#26264845) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Re:dumb shit (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xmundt ( 415364 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @12:07AM (#26265125)

    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.
              However, in terms of the environment, it was quite flexible, and, had a bunch of interesting rooms, mazes, and generally slick toys. One of the better bits was that one could find the cracks in the station walls, and actually escape to the outside to look around. Could not get to the planet below, but, could fly around the station, etc.
              Another innovative thing that made it more impressive was that it was designed to minimize data traffic between the server and the clients, only downloading changed data in small bits during pauses, etc. The main program for displaying the environment ran on the local client. This meant that even over a fairly slow (9800 baud or so) dialup, the connection was usable, and, at 56k it was down-right speedy.
              They seemed to be trying to move into what they thought was a tele-presence field, marketed to companies. Apparently that did not work that well. I can see, though, that, depending on where they are at now, it could work well for a gaming environment. It would work better, I suspect, if there were data gloves and an affordable VR helmet that would provide more of an immersive experience. But, then, that would be true of MOST first person, 3d shooters these days, wouldn't it?
              Dave Mundt

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

    by SCPRedMage ( 838040 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @01:18AM (#26265455)
    FPS's probably don't meet the "scalability" part of the patent, though...

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead