Worlds.com Sues NCsoft For Patent Infringement

Date: 12-30-2008 Views:
KeyWord: Worlds.com,sue,NCsoft,patent infringement,City of Heroes,Lineage II,Tablula Rasa
Summary:Apparently it isn't a relaxing vacation for NCsoft's Austin headquarters because they received an unpleasant gift on Christmas Eve from Worlds.com.

Apparently it isn't a relaxing vacation for NCsoft's Austin headquarters because they received an unpleasant gift on Christmas Eve from Worlds.com. Reported by Virtual Worlds News, virtual world company Worlds.com filed suit against NCsoft on Christmas Eve, claiming infringement on its patent for user interaction in a virtual space. Worlds.com also has a patent for a second technology common to many MMOs, a system for scalable chat.

On Christmas Eve, Worlds.com filed a complaint against NCsoft for infringing on its virtual world and MMO patent. Worlds.com, which was one of the early virtual world developers from the '90s, made waves earlier this month when it announced that it had selected an intellectual property firm to defend its two patents related to scaling virtual spaces and enabling users to interact and chat in 3D environments.

Specifically, the suit claims that NCsoft has infringed on patent 7,181,690, "System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space" through its games, including City of Heroes, City of Villains, Dungeon Runners, Exteel, Guild Wars, Lineage, Lineage II, and Tablula Rasa.

The complaint seeks to recover damages for the infringement and asks that NCsoft be prevented from infringing on patent 690, which covers scaling.   Based on NCsoft's headquarters in Austin as a source of the infringement, the complaint was filed in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division.

In the follow-up report, Worlds.com has announced that they had selected intellectual property law firm Lerner David Littenberg Krumholz & Mentlik LLP, to represent their interests. They explained that they would soon begin contacting representatives throughout the industry. LDLKM's Stephen F. Roth, who is serving as lead attorney, said that the Worlds.com had no particular reason for filing its first claim against NCsoft as opposed to other companies. He merely noted that they had investigated many technologies and games and that NCsoft's, like Lineage or City of Heroes, were covered by the patent.

He added that Worlds.com is looking for a swift resolution, and Texas, where NCsoft has offices and the complaint was filed, has a sophisticated patent court.

Gatto pointed out that Texas may offer other advantages for Worlds.com.

"Being a foreign defendant in Texas is not a pleasant thing," he said of NCsoft, which is primarily a Korean company. "The juries are, many would say, biased towards American plaintiffs and have a propensity to offer high damages. Some defendants might view them as an unfriendly jury and it might make the defendant more likely to settle."

Many observers have speculated that since Worlds.com's patent was only granted in 2007 and filed in 2000, there may be too many examples of prior art, including NCsoft's own games, for the patent to stand. Roth explained that the patent itself is actually continued on  from a much earlier filing date, November 13, 1995, putting it ahead of NCsoft's founding in 1997.

It's not clear what will follow--NCsoft likely won't be served until the new year and then will have 20 days to respond--but Gatto observed that this is likely only the first of many claims. While General Patent Corporation, which represents Worlds.com, Chairman and CEO Alexander Poltorak previously speculated that everyone from World of Warcraft to Second Life could be in violation, Roth declined to lay out future defendants.

"I'm not at liberty to disclose what other companies I believe come within the scope of the claims," he explained. "I think it is a very broad and robust claim, managing both bandwidth and the display and interaction of avatars in virtual worlds and massively multiplayer games."

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Resourrce : Worlds.com Files Suit Against NCsoft for Patent Infringement


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