Microsoft ends real-time video kerfuffle
Pals with Paltalk
Microsoft and Paltalk - self-described as "the leading real-time, video-based community" - have settled their patent dispute, with Microsoft entering into a licensing agreement with Paltalk for the patents in question.
Paltalk had filed suit against Microsoft in September 2006 for what it alleged were violations of a patent originally filed in 1996 and granted in 1998 to Mpath. That company morphed into HearMe, which soon went under.
In 2000, HearMe's technology was acquired by Paltalk, and the patent - refiled in substantially similar form - was regranted in 2001.
The lawsuit went to trial on March 10th of this year. In court, according to Edge magazine, PalTalk’s lawyer alleged that Microsoft's Halo franchise and Xbox consoles used the company's patented technology to support interactive gaming.
The suit requested $90m in damages. According to Microsoft, Paltalk had acquired the patents from MPath for less than $200,000. "[They] aren't worth much," Edge quoted Microsoft's lawyer as saying, “Certainly not $90 million."
Four days after the trial began, a settlement was reached. Today the terms of that settlement - Microsoft's licensing of the patents in question - was announced in a statement from Paltalk.
In a written sign of relief, the company's CEO Jason Katz noted that "After litigating with Microsoft for over two years to protect our intellectual property, it is gratifying to resolve this matter with Microsoft taking a license to Paltalk's patents."
Exactly where in the range of $200,000 to $90m those patents are worth to Paltalk is unknown, since financial terms of the settlement weren't made public. ®
Dumb and obvious patent
This patent fails the 'obvious to those skilled in the art' test. Try reading it. Basically it is a simple client - server structure with packet data aggregation. It is worded very awkwardly to try to obfuscate what they are patenting.. I can even think of a 1975 training system for the Air Force which would serve as an example of prior art. This system was converted from T1 dedicated link to Ethernet in the late 1980s.
There are other examples where the server is 'nominated' and state vectors are returned for the aggregated global system state may also be 1985's Sun Workstation's Mazewar, and some of the early Xwindows games like xtank. SGIs interactive 3-D tank game and flight game might also fit under this too (though I would have to go through their source code to see if it is distributed or if a 'server' gets nominated from the first two players entering the game).
I suspect that Microsoft showed them some prior art and threatened to have the patents invalidated. Paltalk caved and Microsoft paid them a small fee to have them keep quiet. This way the patent still 'stands' and can be used to attempt to block the Open Software movement, or at least slow them down.
-Science guy since I have been in this business for a very long time.. and my grey hairs agree with me. If there was a mafia guy.. I would probably use him instead because I know where many of the bones are buried and who may have prior art on patents - the result of being an old timer.
And there's the FUD again.
"The suit requested $90m in damages. According to Microsoft, Paltalk had acquired the patents from MPath for less than $200,000. "[They] aren't worth much," Edge quoted Microsoft's lawyer as saying, “Certainly not $90 million.""
Assuming you *have* infringed on Patents, the reparation is not based on how much the Patents are worth but rather on how much money you made whilst using those Patents.
Typical MS lawyer, trying to obfuscate the issue (yes, I hate MS lawyers. I have the utmost respect for their marketing department, considering what they have to work with, but I *loathe* their legal department)