Feeds

City of Heroes fingered in MMO patent lawsuit

Troll hits for 53 points of damage

SANS - Survey on application security programs

On Christmas Eve, South Korean game developer NCSoft received a lawsuit in its stocking from a Massachusetts firm that claims to hold an extremely broad patent for developing online virtual worlds.

The legal complaint from Worlds.com alleges NCsoft infringed on its patent for a "system and method for enabling users to interact in a virtual space." The lawsuit fingers nearly all of NCsoft's catalog of massive multiplayer games sold in the US, including City of Heroes, Guild Wars, Tabula Rasa , Lineage, and Lineage II.

Worlds.com's lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction on NCsoft's supposedly infringing MMO wares, an unspecified amount of damages along with prejudgment and postjudgement interest, or "in no event less than a reasonable royalty."

The Worlds.com patent 6,731,314 is described as:

A client computer program provides instructions for a processor to locate and retrieve rich media and HTML files over a network, such as the internet, an internet or an LAN, for running in a three-dimensional (3D) graphical user interface. The program provides instructions for the processor to generate a 3D graphical user interface on a display. Then, the processor generates a metaphorical user object for navigating and interacting in the three dimensions within the environment via navigational and interactional inputs, respectively, from a user. The processor also integrates an HTML object into the environment, and interacts the user object with the HTML object in response to an interactional input from the user.

Which should sound familiar to anyone who's ever played an MMO game - or nearly any 3-D online application. The patent was filed in August 16, 1999 and granted to Worlds.com on May 4, 2004. (Note that City of Heroes was released April 2004, before the patent was issued. Lineage was released in 1998, before the patent was even filed.

An illustration provided in the World.com patent appears to cover extremely standard MMO design:

For example, the user interface of Everquest – a MMO released March 1999 – shares more than a few design traits in common with World.com's patent.

Earlier this month, Worlds.com hired the IP enforcement firm General Patent Corperation (GPC) to enforce its patents. The company indicated Worlds.com may be planning an industry-wide shakedown on its MMO patents.

"The Worlds patents represent exceptionally valuable intellectual property," said GPC chief Alexander Poltorak as part of the announcement. "We welcome licensing inquiries from the on-line game industry. Non-exclusive licenses are available on favorable and non-discriminatory terms."

In the legal filing, Worlds.com said that given an opportunity to investigate, it is likely to find evidence that NCSoft willfully and deliberately infringed on its patent. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.