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Cloud Patents The Internet Games

OnLive Awarded Patent For Cloud-Based Gaming 87

donniebaseball23 writes "Cloud gaming provider OnLive has secured a patent for an 'apparatus and method for wireless video gaming.' The patent gives substantial leverage for OnLive over competing brands in the cloud-based gaming market. 'Hundreds of people have worked incredibly hard for more than eight years to bring OnLive technology from the lab to the mass market, not just overcoming technical and business challenges, but overcoming immense skepticism,' said OnLive CEO Steve Perlman. 'It is gratifying to not only see people throughout the world enjoying OnLive technology in the wake of so many doubters, but also receive recognition for such a key invention.'"
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OnLive Awarded Patent For Cloud-Based Gaming

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  • It just doesn't make sense 'apparatus and method for wireless video gaming.' does not contain "online internet gaming by streaming video"

    • The patent claims important for cloud gaming are:

      15. An apparatus comprising: a unit operable to execute at least one high twitch-action video game for one or more players, video game video being produced therefrom; a compression unit for compressing the video game video with a latency of less than approximately 80 ms, but greater than about 5 ms; and a transceiver operable to transmit the compressed video game video to, and to receive commands from, the one or more players, over a network, the one or more

      • by udippel ( 562132 )

        And how are those cloud-relevant, please? I can only read 'network' and 'multi-player' in there.
        And, nope, multiple wireless transceivers are not much of a cloud to me, except we agreed to water down the whole cloud concept to distributed computing.

        • And how are those cloud-relevant, please? I can only read 'network' and 'multi-player' in there.

          In this case, "cloud" is being used as a marketing term as it doesn't really hold up to NIST's definition [nist.gov] of what cloud computing is... though with the five essentially characteristics, you could shoehorn "cloud gaming" into loosely meeting those characteristics.

          • by udippel ( 562132 )

            I really wonder, how the heterogeneous clients and the dynamical resource allocation and deallocation are done by the underlying 'cloud' application. At least, not in the claims.

      • Afraid there is prior art for some of this.. remote desktop while playing a game. I know some of us have done it.

        • Afraid there is prior art for some of this.. remote desktop while playing a game. I know some of us have done it.

          "FTL has prior art, I got in the truck and went on a highway once."

    • Could it be entirely possible that OnLive have more development threads ongoing than just those you could tightly link to "online internet gaming by streaming video", which is a very high level description of your understanding of what OnLives public product is?
  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:08AM (#34571868)
    It is very general in some ways but contains odd specifics:

    comprising: a unit that includes a processor operable to execute at least one high twitch-action video game, video game video being produced therefrom; a compression unit for compressing the video game video with a latency of less than approximately 80 ms, but greater than about 5 ms;

    So the patent wouldn't cover latencies outside this range?

    The set-top box of claim 10 wherein the wireless transceiver operates in the 5 GHz band.

    Why this band only?

    Ignoring these oddities I can't see much that isn't obvious - a box connecting by Wifi to a router connected to the internet for playing games.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      My guess is that, without the specifics, it wouldn't be patentable.

      Without the specifics, the patent would boil down to being able to play any game with any type of latency over any wireless connection, something that has been done before.

      The question here is whether a patent that relies on specifics in order to be different, should be valid at all.

    • by udippel ( 562132 ) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:44AM (#34571986)

      a compression unit for compressing the video game video with a latency of less than approximately 80 ms, but greater than about 5 ms;

      which is the only part in here, I agree, that is not really off the shelf, so to say. I mean, it has probably to make with the latencies between the players.
      But what does it make a patent? Where are the technicalities in here??

      So the patent wouldn't cover latencies outside this range?

      No. But I guess, that about all 'high twitch-action' would fall into that range. And I secretly assume that's what the attorney put on the table as argument: chances are these numbers are not 'anticipated' in the list of cited documents.

      Why this band only?

      Not 'only'. It is a dependent claim, so the patent is valid in any frequency range, and specifically so in the range of 5 GHz.

      The best thing altogether is the list of documents cited against this application: I stopped counting when I reached 100. Actually, having been patent examiner, I never ever before saw such a long list. How can the examiner seriously find the relevant elements comprised of aspects and features from more than 100 documents??
      Just look at the claims, there are only 25; and many in principle repeatedly covering the wireless and wired connection. Plus on RAID array.
      Maybe the examiner and his assistant try to compete for the 'most ridiculous number of Cited References in any US patent ever'?

      Good nite USPTO, you best are leveled and restarted from scratch!

      • by emj ( 15659 )

        The best thing altogether is the list of documents cited against this application: I stopped counting when I reached 100. Actually, having been patent examiner, I never ever before saw such a long list. How can the examiner seriously find the relevant elements comprised of aspects and features from more than 100 documents?

        128 references I suspect they were aiming for a nice and even number.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Theaetetus ( 590071 )

        The best thing altogether is the list of documents cited against this application: I stopped counting when I reached 100. Actually, having been patent examiner, I never ever before saw such a long list. How can the examiner seriously find the relevant elements comprised of aspects and features from more than 100 documents?? Just look at the claims, there are only 25; and many in principle repeatedly covering the wireless and wired connection. Plus on RAID array. Maybe the examiner and his assistant try to compete for the 'most ridiculous number of Cited References in any US patent ever'?

        Good nite USPTO, you best are leveled and restarted from scratch!

        ... says the lazy former Examiner. I'm a patent prosecutor, and most of my pending applications and recently issued patents have well over two hundred references. The inequitable conduct doctrine requires us to cite every reference we or the client knows about that may be material to patentability, and you're required to read and considered them. Don't complain that by us doing our jobs, it makes your job tougher... just do your job.

        Plus, the vast majority of the references are US patent publications or fo

        • You're pretty hilarious. Given the number of patents passed through in a day, the examiners are not checking these patents correctly.

        • by udippel ( 562132 )

          We are on Slashdot, so everyone is expected to be a dick. You're welcome.
          Maybe in the times of my former career this was considered overdone? Actually, I really never saw those numbers in my times.

          And though I am well aware that the applicant has to cite anything that he is aware of as prior art, I only can consider this hilarious. It rather shows a bad (if not lazy) behaviour on the side of applicant/attorney/examiner: To my best understanding, as well as common sense, it is the task not to blindly plug wh

          • And though I am well aware that the applicant has to cite anything that he is aware of as prior art, I only can consider this hilarious. It rather shows a bad (if not lazy) behaviour on the side of applicant/attorney/examiner: To my best understanding, as well as common sense, it is the task not to blindly plug whatever has similar keywords, but intelligently identify the most pertinent documents. Which usually cannot be more than a handful.

            Ah, then your understanding is incorrect. The rules do not say "most pertinent", but rather "material to patentability". If it were just "most pertinent", you'd only see a handful. Complain to Congress and the Director, not us.

            The rest of your post is based on your misunderstanding of 37 CFR 1.56 and is therefore moot.

            • by udippel ( 562132 )

              "[...]the Office is aware of and evaluates the teachings of all information material to patentability. Each individual associated with the filing and prosecution of a patent application has a duty of candor and good faith in dealing with the Office, which includes a duty to disclose to the Office all information known to that individual to be material to patentability as defined in this section."

              This is the general blurb. Now we get more specific ['as defined in this section']:
              "The Office encourages applica

              • ... so the phrase "material to patentability" is defined in the rule, and yet rather than quoting that, you go for a completely different section and attempt to define "closest", which isn't a requirement of the rule, but rather a mere encouragement.

                Go back and read the rule. It doesn't say "Each individual associated with the filing and prosecution of a patent application has a duty of candor and good faith in dealing with the Office, which includes a duty to disclose to the Office the closest information

                • by udippel ( 562132 )

                  Your term 'allegedly' is a nice word. Thanks.

                  That's the downside of all the IT, I guess, in these days. It is so easy to drag&drop a bunch of references forth and back. A bunch that is just classified in the same patent class, and/or contains a specific set of keywords. In my early days, those reports had to be done manually, in handwriting. I can guarantee you that we did read carefully, rather than blindly insert. And so did the applicants.
                  We read the claims, all of them, carefully, and extracted all

  • the most horrendous patents by the USPTO, you can't seriously say it is gratifying to receive recognition...
    • Actually, the real error here is that patents aren't issued based on how much awesomesauce your invention is. It's mainly based on whether the examiner can find prior art against your claims and whether you successfully jump through a set of legal hoops successfully. A patent is not an endorsement of an invention.

  • They can get all the patents they like, I think it's not worth the hype it's getting. Congrats to the teams and all, I'm sure there were a lot of technologically challenging problems that had to be solved (e.g. compression) but in essence it was always going to be laggy gameplay on the cheap.
    • by udippel ( 562132 )

      Congrats to the teams and all, I'm sure there were a lot of technologically challenging problems that had to be solved (e.g. compression) .

      I wouldn't know yet, why one should congratulate them in any way. If they solved complex problems, please, by all means, file patent applications that specify the problems and the solutions employed.
      But this is more like BMW filing for a car, engine, 4 wheels, steering, with a length not shorter than 387 cam and not longer than 422 cm. No congratulations due for this patent, sorry.

  • I welcome any and all patents on bad ideas. It means that only this company can now use said bad ideas.

    This cloud gaming thing has all the bad things about DRM, plus additional lag. I want games to run on my machine where I control them. I want games to work when I am in the bus, and mobile internet is far too slow for gaming.

    • problem is that they'll go out of business, some patent troll with purchase the patent then sue everyone regardless of if the patent is valid.

    • by whoop ( 194 )

      I want games to run on my machine where I control them.

      Where in the existence of OnLive does it prevent you from doing this? OnLive is just another means of delivering games to people. If you don't wish to partake, go right ahead. There's a good portion of the population that doesn't know how to upgrade a video card or whatever, aside from buying a new computer. OnLive games work on the vast number of these less than top-of-the-line computers.

      More gamers is good for the industry, and good for everybody that enjoys games.

      • The fact is that this is the ultimate form of DRM, never giving the code to the user.

        Once they realize that this will prevent piracy, this could very well become an exclusive method of distributing games, then customers who actually pay for games, like me, will either have to go with it or miss out.

        • If part of the game is 80ms of display lag, I don't really think of it as missing out, I think of it as an efficient way to decide where I can save my money. The 35ms of lag I get from my monitors (research before you buy, kids) is enough to make even the slightest additional lag from the computer extremely annoying, and an FPS basically unplayable.

    • I agree! Plus the latency...

  • X forwarding (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @07:25AM (#34571914)

    Oh so many years ago, I played Quake 1 over remote X on four IRIX boxes connecting to a single beefy Linux server. It required a pretty small window to be playable, but beside that, it worked surprisingly well. The server was two network hops away, in the same building, next to some big-ass clusters.

    Except for using a wired network rather than wifi -- which is immaterial to the issue at hand -- tell me, how exactly did that differ from this cherished patent?

    • Exact same question I've got. This patent seems to broad. Claim 15 pretty much describes a PC using X forwarding, remote desktop or whatever...

      15. An apparatus comprising: a unit operable to execute at least one high twitch-action video game for one or more players, video game video being produced therefrom; a compression unit for compressing the video game video with a latency of less than approximately 80 ms, but greater than about 5 ms; and a transceiver operable to transmit the compressed video game vid

    • by udippel ( 562132 )

      Except for using a wired network rather than wifi -- which is immaterial to the issue at hand -- tell me, how exactly did that differ from this cherished patent?

      I am pretty sure your question is purely rhetorical.
      Though, I could question if you really had a compression unit in your game that had a latency between 5 and 80 milliseconds? Chances are you didn't. How the inclusion of that compression unit actually makes an invention is beyond me, however.

    • by pdbaby ( 609052 )

      I don't think this should be patentable but in my mind the implementation of OnLive is doing something a lot more complicated than X forwarding (the idea, of course, is the same).
      It's working over a contended public network with a large number of hops with varying latencies, doing low latency compression on HD resolutions at reasonably low bandwidth.

      As I understand it, wifi adds more unreliability (packet loss and latency) to the network path as far as they're concerned

      • by udippel ( 562132 )

        in my mind the implementation of OnLive is doing something a lot more complicated than X forwarding (the idea, of course, is the same).

        It's working over a contended public network with a large number of hops with varying latencies, doing low latency compression on HD resolutions at reasonably low bandwidth.

        As I understand it, wifi adds more unreliability (packet loss and latency) to the network path

        Yes, and? Though I am not totally against patents, but then these complicated methods ought to be filed, not the resulting off-the-shelf product.

        • by pdbaby ( 609052 )

          I agree completely, I was just making the point that it is a bit more complicated than X forwarding. As I said, I don't think this should be patentable -- specifically, I think it doesn't go into enough detail on the methods used to ameliorate latency and bandwidth issues.

          • by udippel ( 562132 )

            Thank you. What a nice difference, since usually people are on Slashdot to disagree ... ;)

            This is exactly one of the total weaknesses of the patent system in the last decade(s). I can guarantee you, that the 'good old days' at least in this respect were actually good. I know what I am talking about, I used to be patent examiner. People tend to overlook that before 1982, the USPTO outright refused to grant any software patents. The old Dutch system did not allow amendments, the patent was granted or rejected

      • by RMH101 ( 636144 )
        Q: Has anyone actually *used* this. I'm as skeptical as the next guy, but it does seem they have a product that kind of works. They're even advertising ability to "play" Windows 7 on Android Tablets etc as well. Anyone got real world experience?
        • Q: Has anyone actually *used* this. I'm as skeptical as the next guy, but it does seem they have a product that kind of works.

          Yes. There was a little (but not unbearable) latency but otherwise you wouldn't know that you weren't hooked directly up to a machine playing the game.

          I wish VNC worked like this (including audio) and it was cool to not have to 'install' any games. You weren't just limited to PC games, either, the games I played were on XBOX.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Grandpa! Grandpa! Tell us again about the time you played Quake 1 over remote X on four IRIX boxes connecting to a single beefy Linux server!

    • Oh so many years ago, I played Quake 1 over remote X on four IRIX boxes connecting to a single beefy Linux server. It required a pretty small window to be playable, but beside that, it worked surprisingly well. The server was two network hops away, in the same building, next to some big-ass clusters.

      Except for using a wired network rather than wifi -- which is immaterial to the issue at hand -- tell me, how exactly did that differ from this cherished patent?

      You mean besides the greater distance, the bigger window, and that they're obviously doing a video encoding to make it possible in a way you wish you had when doing remote desktop?

  • What have the overcome? they've failed almost as hard as most people predicted. They've changed their prices/subscription model so many times it is obvious they are desperately trying to secure customers. Other than astroturfed reviews there doesn't seem to be a lot of significantly good press on it. Random user reviews all note lag, quality, etc as being bad. This still doesn't seem like it would serve as useful for much beyond turn based games. Games which usually don't have massive graphical requirements

    • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

      I'm sorry, but you're being too harsh on a service that has 1) succeeded more than failed, 2) is still here and thriving, and 3) is the first attempt in a completely new market.

      And if I were to guess, you're basing your view of OnLive's success on how its subscriber base compares with the XBox 360, PS3, and Wii subscriber bases. But when you do so, you neglect that these are different markets, and that each of these are built off of the success of their predecessors. And it's easy to ignore the chicken-an

      • by crossmr ( 957846 )

        I'm basing their success on how schizophrenic they are with their pricing model, I have no idea what their subscriber base is. I'm also basing it on reports of performance beyond those people who are reviewing it from the room next door or who are sitting on mega connections well beyond your average consumer.

        I've seen no evidence of success. They haven't gone bankrupt yet, but if that's success well it's a pretty bar to set.

        the only people I've seen who even give this the time of day are reviewers who admit

    • IF they provided a subscription model with unlimited access to enormous games library, at cost comparable to a MMORPG subscription, it would be quite attractive. Sure twitch-based games would be worse than on your "localhost" but still playable, and you wouldn't need a beefy PC to run newest games in high quality. If it could be integrated into some cable TV packages, it would be quite nice for semi-casual gamers who are not willing to shell out $2000 for a newest gfx cards but don't mind $30/mo to play any

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        $2000? You can get graphics cards that handle any current game for a tenth of that.

        • At top settings? Nope.

          There are quite a few games out there that have top settings in a range no hardware on earth is capable to support.
          Sure for $200 you can get sustained 30FPS at medium settings in about all games available now and in a year at best. If you want hardware able to run newest games in 2-3 years in acceptable quality, you have to dish out much more than that.

          Still, at cost of increased latency, OnLive promised to top the video quality of all the "affordable" PC hardware and current-generatio

          • by crossmr ( 957846 )

            At top settings? yes.
            Gigabyte 1GB geforce 460 GTX hasn't had any issues and is $184 on newegg.
            The days of trying to blame the $1000 graphics card bogeyman are long gone.

            and if you want to compare apples to apples, you aren't getting top graphics on online. As people have repeatedly reported, the graphics are not good. Especially on any kind of action game. They certainly aren't top of the line.

  • by lxs ( 131946 ) on Thursday December 16, 2010 @08:05AM (#34572070)

    Cloud based gaming was integral to Final Fantasy 7.

  • Ok, the 90s were a long time ago for software. I knew a guy who was such an addict for Ultima Online he played it at work until they started blocking it. His solution, PC-Anywhere to his home computer (which wasn't blocked) and run Ultima Online on his home computer.

    Basically it wasn't a lot different from the ancient dumb terminals (or thin clients) remotely connecting to big iron to run your apps. So what if the app is a game or a word processor or even a molecular modeling program, it's all the same proc
    • by emj ( 15659 )

      who knows what I missed or didn't understand before my eyes glazed over. : )

      Yeah that text was pretty dense and meaningless, so there probably something very important hidden in there.. :-)

  • I've played my fair share of fps games and what I've never seen is a good game where the players controls appear to happen with 5 to 80ms lag (+whatever lag there is inherently in the game itself). Even counter-strike, though having a walking style of a drunken camel, starts doing stuff immediately when you move or use the mouse to turn. Rts, mmorpg etc. maybe, but still you're going to have diminished experience unless you hide the mouse cursor and use voice commands or whatnot.

    • by TopSpin ( 753 )

      I found OnLive tolerable for non-FPS games; good enough that you won't care it isn't local. For FPS, OnLive has UT3 in its 'marketplace'. When playing there is 'lag'; the time between your input and the display update is noticeable. On the other hand, the other players are all on the same OnLive LAN, apparently, so there is very little lag between players. The net result amounts to a different kind of lag and, unfortunately, it is unpleasant for FPS play.

      OnLive makes trying things out very easy. You

      • by kanto ( 1851816 )

        Didn't know the games are run as lan-games; it does alleviate the overall lag, but as you noted the input to action delay is annoying. Being restricted to OnLive's servers also means you're cut off from the rest of the "community" so to speak. Half the fun of CS for me was playing clan matches with your friends and the rest of it was playing on a (entry restricted) public server where you'd meet people you knew casually (enemies/top rated players etc.).

  • And the patent office has STILL not stopped granting patents for X that has been done for years and years if you add "on the internet" to it. Also, online gaming dates back over a decade now, how can that not be prior art?

  • 'It is gratifying to not only see MILLIONS OF people throughout the world enjoying OnLive technology in the wake of so many doubters, but also receive recognition for such a key invention.'" until that bold word makes in that statement this is fail in a can
  • I'm guessing that they are using the random bits about literal latency ranges and what band is used to give them an idea that could get a patent. Since companies could not get a patent on the representation of the human body, the original GI Joe had the right thumbnail on the underside of the thumb. Put random information into a patent, get patent, sue anyone that uses any bit of information in your patent, and hope for the best.
  • MUD + Telnet.. Hey, those were high-end graphics at the time.. also ncurses works like a compression program.. (Or BBS doorgames if anybody wants to go back further)

    I'm all for more ways for me to get my game on, but I'm so very against patents (software in particular).

  • Looking back at Perlman's other ventures, it seems that he hypes a technology in an area and then ultimately makes money elsewhere. WebTV, for example ... that ended up getting picked up by other companies and was in one form turned into Moxi via Charter. Once this fails, it'll probably be picked up for a dime by some other company. No gamer is going to care if they have a patent ... and honestly does anyone? Read the forums and responses throughout the Internet and you'll find that gamers really have n
  • I think cloud gaming sucks so if there will be only one company doing it for next 17 years, it's for the better.

  • For a second, I was perplexed. It's all about a wireless gaming station. Why is the article even mentioning the Cloud ??

  • One has to assume that the patent examiner in this case doesn't know what a multi-player game is. Isn't there some way to force a patent examiner to recuse him or herself from applications about which they know NOTHING? Jesus! Hey Gramps, remember at Thanksgiving when your great grandson was clicking the new-fangled thing with the button next to the plastic box with the antenna and flashing lights?!

    And as far as the compression claim... WTF??!! Is there a specific algorithm to go with that, maybe, please? A

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