Print 92 comment(s) - last by HostileEffect.. on Sep 23 at 7:54 PM

Death Knight [Paltalk lawyer] casts [litigation] for xxx hundred million in damages.  (Source: Tenton Hammer)
Paltalk Holdings Inc. is taking on the MMO industry's biggest players in court

In online games, one crucial aspect of gameplay is to synchronize the scene across a wide array of players' computers.  Events like explosions or special effects must be transferred to and played simultaneously on a broad variety of internet connect machines which is not always an easy task.  In 2002, Paltalk Holdings Inc. of Jericho, N.Y. purchased two patents from a company called HearMe.  The patents cover sharing data among many connected computers so that all users see the same digital environment.

Now Paltalk, a reputed patent monger, has taken many of the massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming industry's biggest players to court in Marshall, Texas, claiming they violate its patents.  Paltalk hand picked the east Texas court for its long history of favoring plaintiffs (patent holders) in lawsuits.  States Christopher Donnelly, a partner at Donnelly Conroy & Gelhaar LLP in Boston, "The eastern district of Texas is considered a plaintiff-friendly jurisdiction."

Paltalk is suing Turbine Inc. of Westwood makers of the Lord of the Rings Online MMORPG, a popular $15 per month entry; Japan’s Sony Corp., maker of the online game Everquest; Activision Blizzard Inc., whose World of Warcraft is the world’s most popular subscription-based online game; NCSoft Corp. of South Korea, maker of the game Guild Wars; and the British firm Jagex Ltd., which produces the free online game Runescape. 

Noticeably absent in the suit are CCP Games, makers of EVE Online; Square Enix makers of the popular Final Fantasy X11; Linden Lab, which produces the popular Second Life game; and GRAVITY Co., Ltd., which produces Ragnarock online, a game popular for its free servers.  It is unclear why Paltalk singled out the companies it did, while ignoring others, which likely use similar technologies.

Paltalk has a strong legal track record.  In 2006 it took Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, to court over technology in Halo.  The case went to a trial in Marshall, Texas, in March.  Mid-trial Microsoft gave in, conceding the validity of Paltalk's clients and paying it a reportedly massive undisclosed licensing fee.

The firm, like others, looks to continue to milk the patent system -- and the U.S. software industry -- for all its worth in the friendly Texas courts.  Last month a Texas court ordered Microsoft to stop selling Microsoft Word within 60 days, as well as paying $200M USD in damages to another patent monger firm.  The ban has been temporarily lifted, but the damages remain, unless Microsoft can win an appeal.

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By StevoLincolnite on 9/18/2009 9:27:10 AM , Rating: 5
Most of those companies could handle a several hundred million dollar fine, but this is probably a prime example of the poor state that the USA patent system is in.

Companies and people shouldn't be allowed to horde patents, if they don't use them, they wont need them, and thus other companies should be free to use them.

This is just the way some Companies/People are, money hungry, and they don't care who they hurt in the process as long as they become rich and wealthy.

RE: Bah.
By mcnabney on 9/18/2009 9:36:57 AM , Rating: 5
Technology patents are functioning more as land-mines than as tools to advance the industry. Companies like this have no interest in developing and selling products - the purpose of a patent to even exist. Instead they just lay-in-wait for a large company with deep-pockets to make or sell a product that could in some way be related to the all-to-vague patents that have been granted in the last decade or two.

RE: Bah.
By Shig on 9/18/2009 9:37:56 AM , Rating: 5
Got to love Texas, any patent suit is immediately granted full damages there...

RE: Bah.
By dragonbif on 9/18/2009 12:48:06 PM , Rating: 3
Paltalk did not buy a code or anything that was made but just the idea or discription of the what it would do. It is a vary bad paten but it is like many other patents out there for software that was never made just the idea put down on paper.
Hay I should get a paten for putting ideas down on paper!

RE: Bah.
By GaryJohnson on 9/18/2009 1:50:28 PM , Rating: 4
Hay I should get a paten for putting ideas down on paper!

That wouldn't work, but if you called them "E-Ideas" and talked about putting them on "E-Paper" then you'd have something.

RE: Bah.
By akugami on 9/18/09, Rating: 0
RE: Bah.
By omnicronx on 9/18/2009 10:47:55 AM , Rating: 2
Its not the patents, its the way in which patent holders will sit back, wait for companies to come big using their 'patented' technology before they bring the case to court. Paltalk does make software (apparently online chat room, instant messaging and video chat software.) and the patents in question cover just that.
"The PalTalk complaint summarizes two former HearMe patents: one, filed in 1998, covers a group messaging server that organizes group lists of players. The second patent covers software that aggregates messages from members of a group to more efficiently maintain consistent communication between host computers, according to the complaint."
This is where the system is flawed, I just don't see how there are not provisions in which it is your obligation to pursue companies infringing upon your patents within a certain period of time.(I always thought there were, I am pretty sure this is how it works in many other countries) It would be nearly impossible to prove that this company which is in the field did not know about these online games and the technology behind them.

Forget make it manditory that you actually have to make a product, half these patent mongers do make products, the problem is far too often this is just a front for their real purpose.

RE: Bah.
By kilkennycat on 9/18/2009 11:53:35 AM , Rating: 2
You are totally correct. In US patent law it is mandatory to legally pursue your patent rights immediately you discover that there is a violation. The "immediately when you discover" is the interpretation/question that this particular patent troll is hoping that the Texas courts do not examine too hard. When a patent troll purchases a patent, he/she generally has a very good idea what the patent may be worth and which companies/products to target and WHEN.... In the case of these particular patents being acquired by the troll in 2002 and the length of time the subject "invention" has been in VERY PUBLIC use by the "offending" parties since that time, it should be pretty easy for the "offending parties" to prove deliberate negligence by the patent troll in following up his/her patent rights "in a timely manner". Strict US court enforcement ( and clarification by the Supreme Court if necessary ) of the "timely action" clause in US Patent law, with the onus on the patent trolls to prove that they (or those who sold them the patent) did not deliberately delay "discovery" would put many patent trolls out of business.

RE: Bah.
By George Powell on 9/18/2009 2:06:11 PM , Rating: 2
From my point of view and looking only at WoW here I would have thought that filing suit any later than early 2005 would be outside the 'timely action' timeframe.
Certainly in the case of WoW the basic game structure has not changed significantly since those early days, which were a whole 2 years have Paltalk gained ownership of the patent.
I would find it hard to believe that it took them 5 years to discover that the most popular subscription based MMORPG made use of their patented technology.

I think a 'Stop wasting this courts time - case dismissed' is in order.

As a side note to those lovely people at Dailytech, any chance we might get links to the patents in all these lawsuit articles.

RE: Bah.
By LordanSS on 9/18/2009 8:30:01 PM , Rating: 3
They're suing SOE as well, for Everquest. And Everquest has been around for much longer than WoW or any of the other MMOs. Hell, it was released even before they bought this stupid patent.

And if you really want to take this "synchronization" thing seriously, hell, the grandparents of all current-MMOs sported similar things. You could go all the way back to the Multi User Dungeon (MUDs) days. You didn't "see" the explosion, or the sword swinging, but everyone in your group indeed received the battle messages at the same time.

Just stupid.

RE: Bah.
By Solandri on 9/19/2009 4:45:17 AM , Rating: 4
If the description of the patent is accurate, they don't have a chance. BBN laid the groundwork for synchronizing events and entity motion among multiple clients in a shared simulation for the military way back in the 1980s.

RE: Bah.
By deegee on 9/20/2009 2:48:00 PM , Rating: 2
Paltalk sued MS for Halo on this patent and MS paid up.
Google 'Microsoft Halo Paltalk' for all of the news articles from earlier this year.

So Paltalk is probably going to go after every game company now that has LAN/online game play. Woe to the game industry because of a**hats like this. This should never have happened.

RE: Bah.
By Entropy42 on 9/18/2009 10:52:20 AM , Rating: 5
Companies and people shouldn't be allowed to horde patents, if they don't use them

Are Alliance patents ok though?

RE: Bah.
By FITCamaro on 9/18/2009 11:05:04 AM , Rating: 5
These people can go die in a fire.

RE: Bah.
By The0ne on 9/18/2009 1:24:49 PM , Rating: 4
I would not mind one bit having their bodies lay across a mud road while I rally over and over across them. Sounds fun to me.

RE: Bah.
By rdeegvainl on 9/21/2009 12:07:17 PM , Rating: 2
WOW raid rule #1, stay out of the fire

RE: Bah.
By HostileEffect on 9/23/2009 7:54:17 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong, Raid rule #1 is don't die.

Raiding is a waste of time as Blizzard is giving the loot away.

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