Paltalk Sues Pretty Much Every Multiplayer Gaming Company Over Patents

from the don't-speak dept

Last time we wrote about Paltalk, it was an article talking about how the company had put together a decent business charging for the use of its chatting software. Apparently that business model wasn't decent enough, because the company has gone into all out patent lawsuit war. A bunch of folks have sent in various versions of the story, but basically, Paltalk has sued a bunch of the big name multiplayer online gaming companies, Activision-Blizzard, Sony, NCSoft, Turbine and Jagex. The back story is that the company bought some patents a few years back (anyone know which patents? -- a quick search doesn't turn up much) from another company. It claims that the patents cover "technologies for sharing data among many connected computers so that all users see the same digital environment." Initially, it sued Microsoft, and spent years fighting that case, until Microsoft figured it was cheaper to settle earlier this year, and handed over an undisclosed amount of cash. With that new bankroll, Paltalk has launched this new suit. While it likes to claim that the Microsoft settlement validates the patent, all it really does is show that Microsoft realized it was cheaper to settle than to fight. It would be rather useful to know which patents these are, specifically, because virtual worlds that let multiple people see the same thing have a pretty long history.


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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 17th, 2009 @ 2:10pm

    Seriously I hope that no matter the cost, these companies stick it out and counter-sue for lawyer fees. I'm not a fan of corporations, especially since some of these are dicks, but this is just a ridiculous suit. This kind of crap needs to stop. How much do you think a hitman would cost as opposed to a lawyer?

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 17th, 2009 @ 2:13pm

      Re:

      "How much do you think a hitman would cost as opposed to a lawyer?"

      That depends, are you looking for a group rate or just one person taken out?

      (kidding!)

       

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      Lucretious, Sep 17th, 2009 @ 3:01pm

      Re:

      Isn't it in the UK that lawsuits such as these requires the losing side to pay the others legal fees?

      That sounds pretty effective.

       

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        Matt (profile), Sep 17th, 2009 @ 6:04pm

        Re: Re:

        The English rule exists in some places and arenas in the US, as well. The trouble is, very often plaintiffs have very little money. We call them "judgment-proof" plaintiffs. So they file a suit, you defend it (at great cost) for two years, then they lose. They appeal, and lose some more. You get a judgment against them for your attorney fees, and they... up and die.

        If Mike is right that this litigation strategy is a "bet the farm" tactic by a company that is not seeing enough revenue from its legitimate business (perhaps because it overextended itself buying cheap and worthless patents,) then it will not survive long past the end of the litigation if it loses.

        BTW - don't think that just because the patents are worthless there won't be a settlement. Instead, remember that before RIM settled for $612.5mm, it had already been determined that 6 of the 7 patents at issue were invalid, and the 7th was inches from an invalidity determination. It behooved RIM to settle, leaving the 7th patent intact and exclusively licensed to RIM (the argument that the invalidity determination came "too late" to affect the judgment in district court is horse pucky).

         

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    Stute, Sep 17th, 2009 @ 2:16pm

    Uhoh?

    Well considering how overly broad this patent sounds, I hope I don't get sued for the indie MMORPG I'm developing with some of my classmates... After all it lets other people see the same digital environment.

     

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      Richard (profile), Sep 17th, 2009 @ 3:03pm

      Re: Uhoh?

      Don't worry - there is plenty of pretty ancient prior art on this one eg

      from this link: http://www.mak.com/pdfs/wp_transitioning.pdf

      Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) has radically changed the process by
      which soldiers train for combat. By connecting together many types of simulations
      into a shared virtual world,


      and
      History of DIS
      In 1983 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sponsored
      the SIMNET (SIMulation NETworking) program to create a new technology to
      expand the current single task trainers into networked team trainers. SIMNET
      was tremendously successful, producing over 300 networked simulators with the
      technology that was to develop into DIS.


      I suspect though that the patents in question are the so called "Goldberg Patents" which relate mainly to scoring systems in online games.

      Once again there is substantial prior art and these patents are on the EFF's hit list.

       

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    DanC (profile), Sep 17th, 2009 @ 3:00pm

    Most of the articles I've been able to find claim that the two patents at issue are the same ones Paltalk sued Microsoft over previously.

    5,822,523 - Server-group messaging system for interactive applications
    6,226,686 - Server-group messaging system for interactive applications

    PalTalk acquired the patents from HearMe, formerly known as MPath.

     

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      Luci, Sep 17th, 2009 @ 8:52pm

      Re:

      I guess whomever filed those didn't think about interactive programs that existed prior to 1996. Such as the Starfleet game played on the Sun systems between colleges in 1992. Ah, those were fun days.

       

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    Nick Millman, Sep 17th, 2009 @ 3:24pm

    Hyun is cool.

    An idiotic attempt to make money. Even with the patents vaguely covering those transfers, Paltalk's chance of winning is slim to none.

     

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    CentralCoastRick, Sep 17th, 2009 @ 3:37pm

    typical patent business model

    >Paltalk's chance of winning is slim to none.

    Winning a defense of the patents? Maybe, but 'winning' with a business model of suing over possibly bogus patents? Sounds like they are winning big. I've never heard of any company being forced to return ill-gotten gains when a patent is overturned.

    "Jeez we THOUGHT they were good patents - the patent office said so, so don't blame us!"

     

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    Rich Kulawiec, Sep 17th, 2009 @ 3:48pm

    because virtual worlds that let multiple people see the same thing have a pretty long history.

    Yes, they do. Peter Langston starting writing Empire back in the early 1970's, and it was quite a sophisticated multi-user virtual world by the time I first saw it circa 1981. See for example http://members.chello.at/theodor.lauppert/games/empire.htm for some background on it.

     

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      Retired O.F. (profile), Sep 17th, 2009 @ 5:44pm

      Re: These frakin' frakers are fraked!

      Maybe I'll bring up a couple of old CP/M and MP/M systems for which I have early multi-user games that I made available on my BBS(es) in the 70's and early '80s. They're in my storage unit at the moment, but generally available for prior art verification. I can also remember a few that ran on IBM 360s in the late '60s....

       

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      diabolic (profile), Sep 17th, 2009 @ 9:42pm

      Re:

      If DanC (above) is correct, the patents relate to multiple host computers connected via unicast networking. The patents are about creating groups of computers and sending group messages. Sounds like you are talking about a main-frame which is a single host. Not quite the same thing. Keeping data in sync between multiple hosts is not the same as having data on one host.

       

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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 17th, 2009 @ 4:03pm

    These frakin' frakers are fraked!

    I'm done. I'm sick to frakin' death of hearing about the poor patent examiners and how they're overworked and blah blah blah. Frak 'em.

    Somebody sat down, read this patent application, and signed off on it.

    Scratch that: some FRAKIN' MORON managed to find his way into a chair and somehow managed to make his mark in the appropriate area.

    Frak you, USPTO. Frak you sideways. I'm going to download something and chat about it in a GORRAM CHAT WINDOW WHICH WILL VIOLATE THIS PATENT YOU MORONS!

    Gods, at this point the entire office should be forced to commit sepuku with blunt herrings for shear stupidity. I want your bowels, USPTO! COVERED IN FISH SCALES!

     

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      Mike C. (profile), Sep 17th, 2009 @ 4:23pm

      Re: These frakin' frakers are fraked!

      Don't hold back... let us know how you REALLY feel... :-)

      /right there with you, btw

       

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      Matt (profile), Sep 17th, 2009 @ 5:56pm

      Re: These frakin' frakers are fraked!

      Don't blame the messengers of bad patent policy. The examiners are just doing their best to earn a buck, like the rest of us. The trouble is the patent system is b0rkn. If you want bowels, send herring to Congress.

       

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        ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 18th, 2009 @ 9:01am

        Re: Re: These frakin' frakers are fraked!

        " The examiners are just doing their best to earn a buck, like the rest of us."

        No, I'm not out to screw the public. Frak 'em. There's no legislation that says the drooling moron who signed off on this *had to.* He almost had to go out of his way to avoid the obvious prior art. He *could* have acted like the 'public servant' he probably fancies himself.

        Q: How many Patent Examiners does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

        A: Approved!

         

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    schnoggo, Sep 17th, 2009 @ 8:11pm

    Forget the specific implementation of a virtual world... My quick reading of the patents just says that you time-slice the state updates to individual clients. This has been done on any client-server game since the 70's. (Didn't actually HAVE good peer-to-peer protocols in many situations.) And of course, the whole RTS genre is based on it.

    Heck, even if they beat the prior art rap, (unlikely) they shouldn't be able to pass the "obvious" test. I implemented such a system in junior-high.

     

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    G Thompson (profile), Sep 17th, 2009 @ 9:16pm

    I remember playing Empire (that was originally for the PLATO system back in early 70's) on Altos in 1980's (via Minerva in Aust.. *smiles at any old OTC user/hacker*)

    That was a multi user game that was way before any of the patents this refers to.

    The prior art is immense and why MS caved is beyond me.

    Though sometimes lately I suspect that a lot of effort is going in to trying to make out that before the current Internet there was nothing else.

     

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    Guy, Sep 18th, 2009 @ 4:55pm

    Paltalk is a parasitic leech of a company. I hope they go bankrupt.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 18th, 2009 @ 11:36pm

    "Initially, it sued Microsoft, and spent years fighting that case, until Microsoft figured it was cheaper to settle earlier this year, and handed over an undisclosed amount of cash."

    Stupid Microsoft, they should have fought this, this would have been a lawsuit I would have loved to see them win. But instead of fighting a lawsuit they should fight they turn it down and if they did fight it this would have probably been one of the FEW times I'm actually on their side.

     

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    Annoyed, Sep 20th, 2009 @ 4:49pm

    Suit

    Atari has survived for around 20 years on this same model.. Just crap out stuff that sucks, Fail, then Sue and get back in the game. Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, and company that uses analog joystick technology pays money to Atari for each unit sold. see here http://www.joystiq.com/2007/01/10/console-makers-sued-over-analog-joysticks/ But this is old news many of you should remember when this came down, it was more visible than this suit. And another http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/53249 .... http://articles.latimes.com/1989-02-01/business/fi-1393_1_video-game-market .... Atari has been the Vampire of the game industry since the early 90's really sueing over ever little thing they can.... So really nothing new here. They wont get some Giant reward, some huge cash dividend, most likley it will be in the form of some small royalty with each unit sold much like Atari Got when it sued MS and Sony of the analog rights... And if you head over to paltalk and have a look, you will see they need cash. lol.. http://register.paltalk.com/reg/landing_pagc128.jsp?advc=105&refc=1105 Crappy looking program, crappy looking site. I bet suits against Team Speak and Ventrillo and the whole lot come next. Maybe one of these companies they sue can drive a stake through this vampires Heart and stop it before it gets to far. As for now, Just boycott them and everything they have their hands into. Help them make even less than they seem to be now...

     

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    Annoyed, Sep 20th, 2009 @ 5:09pm

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=136905533663

    Join the Boycott Paltalk Group on facebook.. Spread the word.. This wont be hard to boycott anyhow seeing as noone has prolly heard of them before this suit was filed ;P

     

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    paltalkisanoobnolife, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 1:19pm

    Nooob paltalk

    paltalk needs to get a life, tbh. theyre just scum bags who need money. If it were me in some of these gaming companies, id sue back at the lawyers defending for false accusations and weak attempt for profit. Also paltalk sued microsoft 90 million dollars for halo's "technology" back in 2006. paltalk gtfo the internet and gtfo everyones life, no one neeeds you. so stfu and go back to your cage before i get an ancient whip from the egyptian times and whip your lil butts til youve given up.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:21pm

    i have to poop

     

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