3D Virtual Worlds Patented! Lawsuits Started...

from the oh-come-on... dept

It seems that the ridiculous patent holders are trying to go out with a bang in 2008. Worlds.com, which holds a patent that never should have been issued on virtual worlds has sued NCSoft, makers of a bunch of popular online virtual worlds -- including some that were launched before the patent was even filed for in 2000. The Register link above shows a few examples of such virtual worlds, but you can dig back even further. In 1996 I was using OnLive! Traveler which did all of the things described in the patent described, as can be seen in the video below:
Not surprisingly, the lawsuit is actually being brought by General Patent Corp (GPC), one of a growing number of IP licensing firms who prey on companies (that actually innovate) by trying to enforce incredibly broad and highly questionable patents. Not surprisingly, GPC's execs have been active in protesting any sort of patent reform, claiming it would "mar innovation." I would suggest that patent reform is a hell of a lot less likely to mar innovation than suing innovative companies with overly broad patents that were applied for well after the technology in question was in common use.

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  1. identicon
    ben, 30 Dec 2008 @ 2:44pm

    OK guys, here's the skinny. I've been talking with Worlds.com CEO Thomas Kindred, and he turned me on to the fact that the 2000 patent is a continuation of a 1995 patent that originally (and broadly) outlines the concept of a virtual world where avatars can chat, yet not interact with each other or their environment. So guess what, they WILL win judgement pertaining to in-game chat systems in a virtual world, but if they try to go for the gold (entire virtual worlds), it is my opinion that since these games are significantly different from simple "chats", they will lose the farm.

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