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Patents The Courts Games

RuneScape Developer Victorious Over Patent Troll 89

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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  • 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.

  • 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 elwin_windleaf ( 643442 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @03:03AM (#34279040) Homepage

    A simple way to donate back would be to buy one of their upgraded accounts for a little while. While RuneScape is a free MMORPG, I think their business model revolves around these upgraded accounts, and that would probably be the easiest way to support them.

    Otherwise, their corporate site has a contact page ( []) with a bunch of email addresses. I imagine that any one of them would work, especially if the message was "I have this money I'd like you to have". :)

  • 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
  • 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. []

  • 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 bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @05:10AM (#34279468) Homepage

    Just an anecdote here. I have a small software company in Europe. We sold our software to one customer in the USA - against the advice of our lawyer, who said to stay out of the US market. A year or so later, a person in that company who had been using our software lost her job. Her hubby had free legal services through UAW, and she could use them. So she figured she'd give it a try: sue us and claim that our software caused her to be fired.

    Needless to say, we had to look into the situation. It turns out that basically any US court, even the local court in Nowhereville, can use the so-called "long-arm statute" to claim jurisdiction - just because you sold to a customer in their neighborhood. The fact that the signed purchase contract specifies a different jurisdiction is apparently irrelevant.

    Sure, one could just not show up in court. But then you lose, regardless of the merits of the case. While any verdict might be impossible to collect, ultimately it might mean that no one from our company would dare travel to the US. It's not the kind of thing you want hanging over your head forever.

    In our case, there was a happy ending. The fact that we actually got a US lawyer to write a rather pointed letter about the stupidity of the claim was enough to get the UAW attorney to back down. Still, it could have gotten really ugly. Needless to say, we have never taken another US customer. Life is too short for this kind of crap.

  • 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 sjames ( 1099 ) on Friday November 19, 2010 @06:06AM (#34279640) Homepage Journal

    I've never understood it. Most ex cons have trouble getting a decent job, yet MS has criminal convictions all over the globe and rakes in the bucks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2010 @09:38AM (#34280738)

    How can an unbalanced weight on a motor's spindle be a valid patent? Controlling the wobble frequency is a function of rotation speed, something women's sex toys have been doing for decades.

  • 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).

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller