Feeds

City of Heroes fingered in MMO patent lawsuit

Troll hits for 53 points of damage

Remote control for virtualized desktops

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.