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Reader Comments (23)

Posted: Dec 12th 2008 11:13AM (Unverified) said

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This screams 'money grab', and is what I would describe also as a attempt to ransom an entire industry with the aid of an extremely big pair of clubs.

Worlds.com needs to die in a fire. Even if they have more of a leg to stand on than the Santa Cruz Organization ever had with Linux, the implications of a Worlds.com success in court over this would be unthinkable. Isn't there meant to be legislation against racketeering in America?

Posted: Dec 12th 2008 2:01PM (Unverified) said

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It will be interesting to see what happens. Since SOP with software is the legal department files whatever pattents they can, I am sure SL, WOW, and so on could have some counter-suits if they wanted.

Remember Mutually Assured Destruction?
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Posted: Dec 12th 2008 9:25PM (Unverified) said

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Maybe so. Many other companies and engineers refuse to file them as a matter of principle - so many companies may not be armed with defensive patents.
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Posted: Dec 12th 2008 12:56PM (Unverified) said

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This directly shows the integrity or lack there of from Worlds.com.
I have already written an email detailing my dissapointment with them and I would suggest that anyone else reading this do the same.
Especially in an economic climate such as this to see a greedy CEO taking this stance is disheartening.

Posted: Dec 12th 2008 4:08PM (Unverified) said

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How are these patents legitimate. How can someone claim ownership of something they did not invent?

RE: The two patents in question are 6,219,045 and 7,181,690. Respectively those are "Scalable virtual world client-server chat system" and "System and method for enabling users to interact in a virtual space".

It seems that both of these should be followed with "in relation to worlds.com" ....How can Thom Kidrin declare all virtual worlds and all virtual world chatsystems his when he only patented one kind?
It seems that each world's chatsystem and each world's shell and structure are unique, and the creator of each world should retain their own individual patents.

All this is just a loophole and Thom Kidrin is trying to abuse words and terms... but when 1 million strong come at this from every angle..... EEK... I feel sorry for Thom Kidrin.... cause it's rare that one person is going to have to battle EVERYONE, not from just one world, but from ALL worlds.

The longer this foolishness goes on, the more Thom Kidrin seals hit fate as 'the worst person in MMOG history' ouch, that's a pretty nasty title to have for someone that owns a virtual world.

Posted: Dec 12th 2008 9:19PM (Unverified) said

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The way things generally work is that it's the first one who gets to the patent office with the most correct paperwork, as it were.

Having your application granted by the USPTO gives you provisional ownership. They're also the people who handle trademarks, and you've seen *some* of the silliness that can surround those. Patent law is even *more* exciting.
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Posted: Dec 12th 2008 9:25PM (Unverified) said

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For example, this application last year that patents online scavenger hunts... http://www.google.com/patents?printsec=abstract&zoom=4&id=eQiiAAAAEBAJ&output=html
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Posted: Dec 12th 2008 6:48PM (Unverified) said

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More proof that patents on software should be abolished, much like patents on business processes have fallen. (a.k.a. the Bilski Decision)

Patents were design to protect tangible inventions, not mathematical concepts.

Posted: Dec 12th 2008 4:28PM (Unverified) said

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I suspect that Blizzard and other top MMOG publishers will join forces for the sole purpose of proving these types of "claims" unwarranted.

Perhaps Sci-Fi authors that describe "cyberspace" like William Gibson (Neuromancer, 1984) will be allowed to comment. Patent claims do not usually require the actual construction of a device or process -- just the idea -- and there are a hell of lot of ideas that have been published in science fiction long before someone tried to file a patent claim.

Posted: Dec 12th 2008 5:39PM Arashikou said

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Technically, you need the DESIGN of something to patent it, not just the idea for it. Ideas aren't patentable. But the standards for what constitutes a patentable design (especially in software) have become so lax in the last few decades that the difference between "Oooh, wouldn't it be neat if..." (idea) and "Here's how we could make a..." (design) has practically become nil.

Also, it's not just Blizzard we have to hope will step in. EA and Sony have much more of a history of getting into legal tussles and have a stake in this. Hell, stepping beyond the bounds of MMOs, MICROSOFT runs a few services that it seems to me would infringe on these patents. I doubt their flock of lawyers is going to sit by and let some no-name website threaten them...
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Posted: Dec 12th 2008 6:23PM (Unverified) said

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holy shit, are these guyes for real?
thats not just shooting yourself in the foot, thats outright blowing your head off.

and actually, some patents have been killed because they were used in sci-fi novels, ie. someone had the "idea" before they did. i don't see how the patent got trough at all, concidering this.

i never even heard of them before. to me, thats "not using" the right you have, especially concidering i'm pretty into MMO and virtual worlds...

it should be judged invalid, and the guy should be sentenced some cash-fine for wasting the time of gamers and courts around the world.

Posted: Dec 12th 2008 6:59PM (Unverified) said

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@DeathMutant: You don't just patent ideas. Furthermore, after the recent Bilski Decision, it seems that if you can do something "in your head", even if slower than a computer, it is not patentable, even if "original". Software is math, it is the notation system for complex math. As such, it isn't patentable; that's why we have had decades of issues related to software patents.

Posted: Dec 12th 2008 10:13PM (Unverified) said

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Both patents are directed to systems for limiting the number of avatars displayed client side at a time.

Whether or not they are valid depends on what existed before 1996 and 2000 respectively. Its also unclear if anyone else is actually is practicing the claimed invention. Their claims specify counting all the avatars on a system and comparing that number to a display limit. Any game with instances probably doesn't use this system. Also any game with draw distance limits probably doesn't use this system. So what does that leave?

Its interesting that they say they pioneered the technology in 1995 but didn't patent it until 1996. They might have invalidated their own patents by releasing the system to the public before they filed - you can't claw back into a patent for something you already released to the public.

I can't see them going against Blizzard with this, they have so much money, they could keep this in the courts until the people behind World.com are forced declare bankruptcy.

Also the patents were only filed in the US. It can be practiced anywhere else with impunity.

Posted: Dec 12th 2008 11:01PM (Unverified) said

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I once read that this patent sneaking shit was what caused most joysticks nowadays to either be completly passive or just vibrate (haptic feedback) instead of having true force feedback (moving the stick against the hand and all) :/

but hopefully you guys are right about the flaws that will make this attack fail :)

Posted: Dec 13th 2008 1:40AM (Unverified) said

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Anyone remember Habitat for the Commodore 64? Wasn't that in 1984 or something, definitely before these greedy farts "pioneered" virtual worlds 11 years later. And what about all the MUDs even before that?

Posted: Dec 13th 2008 8:15PM (Unverified) said

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Unlike patent trolls that are out there, at least Worlds has been invovled in 3D worlds for a long time and actually uses the techonology. To me it looks like that Patent Office is a factor in the timing since the second patent was granted only recently.

Posted: Dec 14th 2008 9:22PM (Unverified) said

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Does this help any?

"Moove" - A German based virtual world created in 1994. Emphais on 3d Chat and dating.

Posted: Dec 14th 2008 11:06PM (Unverified) said

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Not if they didn't file a conflicting patent with the USPTO first - if they were using the specific technology and it was a trade-secret at the time, it probably doesn't count.
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Posted: Dec 15th 2008 8:54PM (Unverified) said

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Also, Moove's parent company is located in Germany (although they have offices in the US too), and Europe doesn't acknowledge software patents, so very likely Moove is free to ignore any crazy software patent rights in the US.

It's definitely time for the European SL grid... ;)
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Posted: Dec 16th 2008 1:11PM (Unverified) said

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Prior Art for "System and method for enabling users to interact in a virtual space":
DikuMud: 1990/1991
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DikuMUD)

Prior Art for "Scalable virtual world client-server chat system":
IRC: 1988
(http://www.irc.org/history.html)


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