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If you play any online RPG's, you know about Turbine.  Turbine has developed MMORPG's based on Lord Of The Rings and Dungeons And Dragons.  And today, they find themselves on the receiving end of a lawsuit for software patent infringement.

The lawsuit was filed by a company called Paltalk Holdings, based out of Jericho, NY.  Remember what I said about venue shopping?  This was filed in Mashall, Texas, one of the hot spots for patent lawsuits, due to generally leaning towards the plaintiff in these things.  In 2002, Paltalk bought two patents from a company called HearMe that share data among many computers so that they all have the same digital environment.  Paltalk is claiming that online RPG devs are infringing the patent.  In 2006, they went after M$ (I believe it was about the time Halo 3 was launching and all the bad press about the builds of the XBox360 were coming out).  It went to trial in Marshall, Texas.  Hey, deja vu.  It started in March, but never finished, as M$ settled and hushed the whole thing up with an NDA.  This emboldened Paltalk, and they are suing Turbine, Sony Corp (Everquest), Activision Blizzard (World Of Warcraft and, presumably, the upcoming Diablo 3), NCSoft of South Korea (Guild Wars, Lineage, and City Of Heroes), and Jagex Ltd from Britain (the freebie game Runescape).

I don't know if the patent is overbroad, but the vintage suggests it may be.  A lot of companies lately are opting to get software patents overturned instead of being hustled (there are lots of online co-op games long before this patent, so I think a Prior Art challenge will end this nonsense quickly).  I hope this is one lottery ticket that doesn't get cashed.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 17th, 2009 11:06 pm (UTC)
i don't play too many rpg's but i'll cross my fingers for you :)
Sep. 18th, 2009 12:30 am (UTC)
Thanks. The whole software patent thing, as you'll learn from reading my ramblings, is actually very dangerous for people just trying to make a living, because software is not supposed to be patented and is being used as an anti-competitive weapon. I'm not an online gamer myself, but this could hurt a lot of good people just trying to survive in a rough business, so I'm hoping it gets shot down. Thankfully, with the combined resources of Activision (the biggest game company in the world) and Sony, the legal researchers should be pulling out the stops, and the companies will give their arguments weight in court.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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