Activision Blizzard Sued For Virtual World Infringement

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.

  • bobusboy
    Awesome photo for the article.
  • stingstang
    ....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.
  • jonathanrhunter
    I'm going to patent "the method for collecting air into one's lungs and breathing"...
  • friskiest
    Another BS tactics to capitalize on this BS patent system.
  • DroKing
    This 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
  • tokencode
    Can someone please patent the process of suing for patent infringement?
  • digital anomaly
    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.
  • elbert
    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.
  • invlem
    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"?
  • memadmax
    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.....