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Activision Blizzard Sued For Virtual World Infringement

By - Source: Games Industry International | B 68 comments

A company is claiming that Call of Duty and World of Warcraft infringe on its patent.

Rather than serve the customer, it seems that most businesses have nothing else better to do than sue each other over patent infringement. History books will one day look back on the turn of the century as the "Era of Patent Infringement" or something even more clever. They'll report that corporations were fighting over the rights of touch controls, operating systems, smileys and now even virtual worlds.

Games Industry International reports that Worlds Inc. filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. According to the company, both franchises violate its patent by using a "system and method for enabling users to interact in a virtual space." Worlds Inc. is naturally seeking compensation because both games allegedly use technologies developed by the company.

"Technologies created by Worlds have helped the businesses of virtual worlds gaming and the sale of virtual goods to grow into a multi-billion dollar industry," said Worlds Inc. CEO Thom Kidrin. "While we are pleased to see that the gaming industry and its rapidly growing customer base have enthusiastically embraced our patented technologies, we deserve fair compensation for their use."

This is the second time Worlds Inc. has sued a publisher over an MMOG. The company went after South Korea-based NCSoft back in 2008, claiming that City of Heroes and its other MMOGs violated patent 7,181,690, aka "System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space." The case was filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division because NCSoft Corp. had a headquarters in Austin, Texas.

The lawsuit stated that NCSoft illegally incorporated its patented "product" into its MMOGs. As the patent label implies, the "product" deals with creating realistic scalable presentations of 3D virtual worlds, and allowing players to interact in those virtual worlds. But the court eventually ordered a dismissal with prejudice due to a binding settlement between the two companies signed on April 23, 2010. The details of the settlement were not disclosed.

Based on the results of the first lawsuit, Activision Blizzard may end up settling out of court. After that, who will be next on the list? Sony Online Entertainment could be a likely candidate if it's not already.

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Top Comments
  • 29 Hide
    jonathanrhunter , April 14, 2012 5:19 AM
    I'm going to patent "the method for collecting air into one's lungs and breathing"...
  • 28 Hide
    tokencode , April 14, 2012 5:40 AM
    Can someone please patent the process of suing for patent infringement?
  • 27 Hide
    friskiest , April 14, 2012 5:28 AM
    Another BS tactics to capitalize on this BS patent system.
Other Comments
    Display all 68 comments.
  • 21 Hide
    bobusboy , April 14, 2012 5:14 AM
    Awesome photo for the article.
  • 25 Hide
    stingstang , April 14, 2012 5:15 AM
    ....and they're getting away with this.
    It's a dark day for entrepreneurs. It's the entrepreneur genocide pretty much. If you invent ANYTHING AT ALL, you're going to infringe on someone patent.
  • 29 Hide
    jonathanrhunter , April 14, 2012 5:19 AM
    I'm going to patent "the method for collecting air into one's lungs and breathing"...
  • 27 Hide
    friskiest , April 14, 2012 5:28 AM
    Another BS tactics to capitalize on this BS patent system.
  • 28 Hide
    tokencode , April 14, 2012 5:40 AM
    Can someone please patent the process of suing for patent infringement?
  • 11 Hide
    digital anomaly , April 14, 2012 5:41 AM
    I remember Worlds Inc.. In case you guys were wondering if they even bothered creating something based off their patent, back in early '95, when I was still using Windows 3.1, I installed AlphaWorld and Worlds Chat, two 3D online worlds owned by Worlds Inc.. At that point in time, I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

    I have no doubt that their patent is legit and they'll probably win the court case, but the way they decided to enforce their patent this late in the game is just downright foul. They should have come after MMOGs actively upon launch. I guess they used NCSoft as a testbed first to see if they have enough clout to take on Activision Blizzard.
  • 10 Hide
    elbert , April 14, 2012 5:42 AM
    NCSoft is a new company where as Blizzard could easily show use of much the same system prier to this patent. This patent covers any multi player graphical game where a server is used to determine direction and keeps a data base. Given wow was released on November 23, 2004 I don't think this patent dated FEB 20, 2007 has any merit.
  • 16 Hide
    invlem , April 14, 2012 5:56 AM
    Hasn't every single multiplayer game in existence violated this patent?

    Isn't the definition of multiplayer gaming effectively "users interacting in a virtual space"?
  • 6 Hide
    memadmax , April 14, 2012 5:59 AM
    This kind of crap is going to stifle innovation to no end, unless it's a large corporation that has an army of lawyers to fend off these trolls.....
  • 9 Hide
    erunion , April 14, 2012 6:04 AM
    digital anomalyI have no doubt that their patent is legit.


    No, its bogus; even by the patent system's own flawed rules. Its no different than trying to patent the displaying of words on an LCD screen. Its an obvious idea that a device capable of displaying images will display images, or that a network between computers with graphical user interfaces will be presented graphically.
  • 11 Hide
    twelch82 , April 14, 2012 6:05 AM
    jonathanrhunterI'm going to patent "the method for collecting air into one's lungs and breathing"...


    Why not? Remember, now we're on the "first to file" rather than "first to invent" system.
  • 11 Hide
    nicodemus_mm , April 14, 2012 6:08 AM
    DroKingThis is a BS suit for sure but I gotta say They had it coming after making great franchises SO GAY with COD and SC2/D3


    You may wish to zip your lips... your stupid is showing.
  • 11 Hide
    jonathanrhunter , April 14, 2012 6:41 AM
    twelch82Why not? Remember, now we're on the "first to file" rather than "first to invent" system.

    It really only does the world any good if inventions end up invented. The U.S. system for approving patents is remarkably good at keeping inventors suppressed and awarding money to people and corporations that have proved they are good at writing ideas down for things they never intend to realize.
  • 10 Hide
    amdfangirl , April 14, 2012 6:54 AM
    Have they decided to patent the patent yet?

    Imagine the power of th patent troll.

    All your base belong to us.
  • 6 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , April 14, 2012 7:36 AM
    jonathanrhunterI'm going to patent "the method for collecting air into one's lungs and breathing"...

    I've got one up on you. I'm going to patent the 5 senses.
  • 9 Hide
    beetlejuicegr , April 14, 2012 7:53 AM
    If Benjamin Franklin lived and had a patent on electricity he would own our "behinds" and of course everything that operated with electricity (from digital to analog) would have to pay him rights :p 
  • 1 Hide
    gti88 , April 14, 2012 8:26 AM
    Can I patent a "method of posting endless patents-connected news".
  • 2 Hide
    esrever , April 14, 2012 8:53 AM
    I shall patent the ability to patent something and sue people for it.
  • 4 Hide
    drwho1 , April 14, 2012 9:53 AM
    EXTRA! EXTRA!
    Lawyers went on Strike!
    Word is that Lawyers were not getting paid due to game developers have not sold their games.
    An investigation on this matter revealed that Players have stop supporting them because they apparently got tired of what they call "patent trolls".

    Well at least something good has come out of this.
    face_mischief
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