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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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Not just MMOs
By AntiM on 9/18/2009 10:01:03 AM , Rating: 3
I would think that these patents could apply to any online multiplayer game. Maybe even something line MS Live Meeting, where a person can share their screen with other users. The patent litigation mess is getting ridiculous, especially software patents. Patent holding companies should be banned. They only exist to stifle innovation and drain successful companines.

I'm thinking a software program should be treated like a literary work. It should be copyrighted, not patented. I mean, you *write* software, right? That would prevent someone else from copying and using your work, but wouldn't prevent them from accomplishing the same task with a different set of instructions. The idea of allowing someone to patent a "process" is flawed, unless the process is very specific. Most of the patents I've read are purposely vague and should have never been granted.

RE: Not just MMOs
By MadMan007 on 9/18/2009 10:25:58 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. The patenting of ideas or methods in software is terrible, only the specific code should be patentable. This would actually create innovation and enhance software because it would drive software companies to come up with the most efficient way of doing something.

RE: Not just MMOs
By achintya on 9/18/2009 10:59:57 AM , Rating: 2
Unrelated to the American Patent system.

In India, software programs ARE treated as that. Algorithms and programs are not granted patents, but copyrights. A software can only be patented here if on/accompanied by a piece of proprietary hardware. Alas, India still does not produce enough softwares of be able to create a noticeable dent in the software industry.

RE: Not just MMOs
By Pythias on 9/18/2009 11:58:09 AM , Rating: 2
That seems to be a pretty decent way of handling the problem.

RE: Not just MMOs
By Starcub on 9/19/2009 11:58:39 AM , Rating: 2
Then practically no PC software would be patentable. Do you think that would help or hurt inovation in the software industry?

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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