Sony, Blizzard, Activision, NCsoft, Turbine named in patent suit

Following settlement with Microsoft, Palktalk Holdings files complaint against makers of PS3, WOW, COD, Guild Wars, LOTRO, and Runescape.

In March, Paltalk Holdings leveled a hefty $90 million lawsuit against software giant Microsoft. Paltalk's claim centered on two of its patents, which create a solution for computers to effectively communicate with one another in online-gaming situations. As it turns out, Paltalk's claim stood on strong enough legs for Microsoft to settle the case for an undisclosed sum, midway through the trial, in June.

Paltalk certainly has an opportunity to cash in.

Now, Paltalk has its sights set on a number of other game-industry heavyweights, including Sony Computer Entertainment and several of its divisions, Activision Blizzard, NCsoft, Turbine, and Jagex. At issue, again, is Paltalk's computer-to-computer synchronization patents, which, as noted by Paltalk's lawyer Max Tribble as part of its Microsoft suit, involve "technology for ways to control interactive applications over multiple computers."

Paltalk's current suit doesn't shy away from the high-profile games in each of the aforementioned company's catalogues. Games specifically named in Paltalk's suit that are purportedly in violation of the company's patents include Guerrilla Games' Killzone 2, Evolution Studios' Motorstorm, EverQuest I and II, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and World at War, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, and Runescape.

Notably, Paltalk's suit notes that Sony, Activision, and Blizzard had previously been licensees of the technology, which it bought from Mpath Interactive in 2001. The suit notes that as early as 1997, Sony had allegedly used Mpath's technology as part of its Web site The Station. Likewise, Activision had allegedly begun using the technology in 1997, while Blizzard had purportedly employed the same patents since 1995.

Due to what it claims to be a willful violation of its patents, Paltalk is seeking damages that total three times what they would normally be against Sony, Activision, and Blizzard. The company has also petitioned the court to prevent the companies from continuing to violate its patents, among other requests.

Written By

Want the latest news about EverQuest Secrets of Faydwer?

EverQuest Secrets of Faydwer

EverQuest Secrets of Faydwer

Follow

Discussion

482 comments
Clockout1
Clockout1

I just patented that thing where two people try to go around each-other but keep stepping in the same direction. Everyone who does it now owes me 7 trillion dollars.

Darksoll
Darksoll

Be right back, gonna patent the idea of waiting for companies to get rich from an idea I didn't even understand to sue their money, then I'll sue Paltalk for anything they won from these lawsuits.

tk9780
tk9780

I bet it cost Microsoft more for 'meal' allowances for its legal team than the settlement amount, of course saying that you'll willing to pay and giving the money over totally different! Good luck to Paltalk if this lawsuit based on a solid working product.

Circlestrafe
Circlestrafe

It's pathetic how some of you are happy about the suit as long as it's against 'this company' or 'that company' and not 'my game company'. You do realize who ends up losing in this suit (whether it's legit or not). It's us; We lose in higher costs. Do you really think the CEOs and top execs are losing anything here? Pull your heads out!

DestroyMonsters
DestroyMonsters

WOOT! None of my games are listed... None of my companies are listed, I wonder what would happen if they got what they wanted and shut down WoW, I bet it would be funny to see all those screamind fanboys frothing and twitching in the streets, begging god to bring back his night elf druid...

floomoo2003
floomoo2003

Money and video games should have nothing to do with eachother in anyway. impossible, but would be great :) Then again, aslong as all the 'sue fever' going around doesn't effect MW2, I don't care at all.

dg3215
dg3215

Someone always comes out of the wood workt to file a law suit against successful companies to make up for their failures.

misha97
misha97

Finally, time to sue blizzard. Blizzard was fine until they released WoW and started having crappy customer service.

wbezuidenhout
wbezuidenhout

Yes, indeed, P2P chat software, really being endangered by the competition in game lobbies, yes, really taking the technology forward and innovating. Have you considered that there's "more than one way to skin a cat"? Have you ever stopped paying for something because you figured out a way to do it even better? Hell, back in university (2001) we were ALL infringing on their patent because we wrote a custom chat program for our hostel's network. My big issue is that, at the moment, patent law allows you to patent "an idea", but doesn't force you to tie it to a design. So, I could patent "A interactive program which allows a person to engage one or more other people in simulated combat using both fictional or historic weaponry in order to kill another player, which drives toward a greater goal of winning the map in which this competition is held. Synchronisation and communication between clients would be done using the TCP/IP network protocol..." and proceed to sue every company who brings out ANY kind of FPS/RTS game... Do I deserve any of that money? Hell no! But by law I do, since now that is considered "my idea", instead, I should put forward my own FPS/RTS and be able to get THAT patented. Now if someone tries to make a game very similar to mine, they can't, I hold the patent, and the IP, so my idea is safe, and the future of my idea (By way of IP) is also safe. And oh yes, sorry to repeat myself, but you should really check out Netrek, link in my post below.

Ontain
Ontain

Why are ppl pissed at Paltalk? They didn't just sue out of the blue. many of the companies had licensed their technology. and they do have peer 2 peer chat software on the web. it's not like they did nothing with the patent. they've been making software and licensing.

Scorchgame
Scorchgame

Take the time, sue the crap out of them. The longer the more money they get. That is one good strategy. By the way, why do they all use the similar stuff. NOW its co-operation between Microsoft and Sony!

TnT_DeMoN5
TnT_DeMoN5

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

blaznwiipspman1
blaznwiipspman1

i agree where someone said having a patent for an idea that is something that anybody can think of, should not be a patent in the first place. Also what happens when more than one person comes up with the same idea but did not reference each others work and came up with it individually? I think only the truly unique patents that are infringed upon should be able to sue. And the reason why paltalk waited so long is that 1) back 10 years ago nobody played MMO's since few people had internet access, so yes their idea was unique.

TrueIori
TrueIori

Hope they lose this crap. Company like Pal talk is what wrong with the world where everyone thinks they have the right to sue anyone for anything.

Fireclanmaster
Fireclanmaster

Paltalk is only using the instruments you've given them. By that I mean the very idea of taking a pantent on an idea is ridiculus. I'm from Sweden, and here, people are only allowed to take patents on actual things they have made. I'm not judging, and will not judge Paltalk for what they are doing. They are only living in a world we have helped create. This is related to copyright-problems society is having as well. In the end it all becomes a pointing competition. Who made what first, and did that even resemble something that existed before that? Personally, I'm against everything that encourages gold digging. But at the same time, people need to get rewarded for their discoveries and achievments. The current system encourages only abuse and stiffness of any kind of development. Look at todays fossil fuel problem. Something that Might have been different if USA didn't have this absolute system. A system that impedes all atempts to create something new. This is just a vague guess, but it feels like these kind of things will start riots in the end. The sad thing is that we will act out against the company that abuse the system. When in fact, we were the ones who made and accepted it from the start.

jamesh-42
jamesh-42

So effectively Microsoft has funded Paltalk to attack their competition. Having only searched briefly, I assume that these patents are related to multi-party voice chat?

nevryn
nevryn

This is just retarded. It's almost as bad as ideaflood suing everyone for having user subdomains. Let's see... what's next... oh my guess will be someone will sue MySpace/Facebook/Twitter because they somehow patented the idea of people having online diaries and talking on the internet to each other.

wbezuidenhout
wbezuidenhout

@djinyoung 1) How about finding a different/better way of doing the same thing? If, hypothetically, you patented a "pointy object used to scribble on something" (ie pen), but you implemented that as "feather-and-ink", and I came up with a ballpoint pen, you could currently sue me for patent infringement even though I came up with the ballpoint part (Since you patented the function and not the design, which is the major flaw imho). 2) Wrong, they filed during September in 2006 (http://www.businesswire.com/news/google/20060913005371/en or http://news.cnet.com/8301-13860_3-10257478-56.html), if you're going to make statements like that, kindly link your source. 3) See (2), here are the patents: http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5822523.html and http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6226686.html, with descriptions as vague as that they could quite possibly sue the internet itself. Remember that a 'message' could be human communication or just a piece of data, so ANY form of communication is covered.

Viron_Berserker
Viron_Berserker

It's not spreading the wealth URError, Paltalk is just trying to get what they think is theirs. I do think their claim is total bull but then I can't really judge. I mean if they had infringements on their patents that pre-date their Microsoft lawsuit then why in the hell are they bringing it up now? The reason: money. Notice that most of the games they list are all popular games, they're just out for money, and that is why I dislike them. It's not like they are bleeding money or that they feel that this insults them or anything. They're just after what they THINK they deserve.

kristi_was_h123
kristi_was_h123

Actually Microsoft does not loose money, it will just charge you a few dollars more for their games for example. A example would be when Thai Government Pharmaceutical Organization started producing generic antiviral drugs in March 2002 the cost of a monthly treatment for one person plummeted from $500-$750 to $30, hence making treatment more affordable. In response the US government placed Thailand on the list of "copyright violators". I know that this it's not software related but it's about the same thing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_patents

URError
URError

honestly who cares if microsoft loses money? it's a billion dollar company, if I was in Paltalk's postion to spread the wealth I'd do the same thing

djinyoung
djinyoung

I am really enjoying reading all your comments. Gotta love the inets for all the people that assume and jump the gun on judging and accusations. I am in no way supporting Paltalk but a principal... 1. Like previously said their technology was licensed by these companies before. So whether the companies decided to reverse engineer and tweak it enough to make it "their own" version or just plain stop licensing it is obviously the main factor. 2. Any of you who are experienced with law or have friends who are lawyers will tell you that when you sue for this amount and most importantly companies as big as some of these are it takes years. How many of you knew that Paltalk actually sued MS for this very patent infringement in 2003 and it just got settled this year. 3. Try to research a bit of exactly what the tech is. It is not as vague as you may think it is. Basically the lobbies that you have in Halo MP or CoD MP and so on is what their tech basically is. Being able to voice communicate in a matchmaking game lobby with personalized avatars is what I understood it as. All of you have interwebs at your fingertips for knowledge!!! Abuse it!!!

kristi_was_h123
kristi_was_h123

I'm a software developer and I must say I never used any patent documentation in my developments and I don't have any intent to ever use it (even if I know were to look for it) . Now if I build a application and find out after some time that I'm actually infringing some patent I would think of it as being very unfair to me. What it's worse is that patents are granted for trivial ideas, for example Microsoft patented double clicking http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/04/06/02/2222258.shtml?tid=109&tid=155&tid=187&tid=99 and here I found the actual patent http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6727830.html . Bill Gates declared in 1991: "If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today." (see http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/dangers/index.html ) Here is link with arguments for and against http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent_debate . PS: There is also a MMO patent owned by Worlds.com and currently NCSoft it's sued over it and after that. Worlds.com declared that Blizzard its next ( http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/blizzard-targeted-in-mmo-patent-dispute )

fauljosh
fauljosh

Why are any of you siding withthe gaming companies? The article says that ALL of these companies at one time were licensees. Meaning they paid to use this technology. Now they're using it without paying. OBVIOUSLY INFRINGING ON PALTALK'S PATENT.

wbezuidenhout
wbezuidenhout

@capitalthoughts, I don't think it's a case of "our gaming companies can do nothing wrong", I'd say it's more of a case of "Why didn't Paltalk do anything with their patent?", along with "Who the hell IS Paltalk!?". My biggest concern here is that the gaming companies targeted by Paltalk actually DID something with the technology, whereas Paltalk just sat on the patent and waited until it was "profitable" to start up the lawsuits. At least, that's what this looks like. Patent law *should* be changed, patents should be used to protect your idea until you've been able to do something with it, not *remove* it from the pool of potential solutions (As it's doing now). As it is, I can patent some vague idea, and put that in a safe, and suddenly you're not allowed to implement that solution because I have the patent, even if I plan to do *nothing* with it for the next 20 years. As a patent holder I should be forced to *do* something with it, otherwise it should be revoked. And MS settling out of court does not necessarily mean they admit fault, it just means that it was the cheaper option. Would you hypothetically spend $100 to prove you innocence, or pay the guy $50 to go away? I'd go so far as to say Paltalk is the thief here, take a look at Netrek (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netrek), that's 1988...

capitalthoughts
capitalthoughts

I am suprised a lot of you people defending the gaming companies aren't hired by these corporations as lawyers since you all know soo much about patents and patent law. I am also tired of the "we think our beloved game comapanies are so awesome and they could never do anything wrong" mantra. If you are a person who has proof that not only have you been stolen from, but money has been made off of your back because of the theft, you ALL would be the first in court no matter who was doing it. You know, maybe the reason it took so long is due to evidence collecting, They must have good evidence to make Microsoft shut up and settle. My main point really just comes down to is if you have the evidence, the law says not only do you have the right to sue but that you should, otherwise, no one would ever have rights against the giants that are Sony, Microsoft, or even a non-gaming company...FORD with their intermintent wiper.

okassar
okassar

I'm sure the lawsuit is MUCH more complex than it appears here in this short article on Gamespot. Bottom Line:Game companies have to make sure they don't get into this mess in the first place,because yes,there are gold diggers out there,it's human nature-->maximizing profit,lol.

twistedmalice
twistedmalice

Why now do this? If they new they were using this technology for so long why wait until now. Anything for Paltalk to get a buck I guess.

HerbalVideogame
HerbalVideogame

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

spoonybard-hahs
spoonybard-hahs

@Cabal23 Microsoft settled out of court. This doesn't prove PalTalk is right or wrong in the eyes of the law. This has been Microsoft's MO since they secretly bought the world. It's far cheaper on their bottom line to settle than to suffer a protracted court battle which they may or may not win. No one wants a person's creative rights revoked, but - like I said earlier - it is not right for someone to lay trap for another company. Do you even realize how many companies technically violate this patent? Way more than just a hand full of the most lucrative gaming companies. And that's what's wrong here.

KungfuKitten
KungfuKitten

I heard this system prevails because it primarily sends money to the USA. Is that right? I definitely hear of more lawsuits by american companies than others.

sacchi_uy
sacchi_uy

Woah, she just got into serious business. I bet we find her corpse next week abandoned in an old forest xD

WeWerePirates
WeWerePirates

Patent law is stupid and broken, but this is really nothing new. The basic problem is that in practice it doesn't matter who came up with something first, just who patented it first. The problem isn't simply people coming up with an idea, patenting it and wait for a pay day, it's people taking common solutions in a technical field and patenting them. This isn't just a problem in the games industry, the law needs to be fixed.

Nzilla
Nzilla

BOOOO, sob's trying to shut down WOW. Also, I am not surprised that Microsoft didn't settle the lawsuit by buying the company outright.

ichiban30
ichiban30

the land mines of business. Good luck Sony and Blizzard.

zaphod_b
zaphod_b

Freaking patent squatters. From what I can tell, Paltalk doesn't do anything special. Leave it to some stupid little company to find new ways of applying existing technology, patent that particular use, then use the patent to get an influx of cash by suing people who did the same thing they did. Whatever. As long as MS, Sony, and the like can still keep making games, I won't lose any sleep over this.

Yuck_Too
Yuck_Too

@Mr_Bodywave The problem is patent law has become a joke...there are people who do nothing but patent ideas...wait for someone to do something similar and then sue. At that point it becomes not about right or wrong...but a question of "is it cheaper to fight or forfeit"...

leoleez
leoleez

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

selbie
selbie

why not just sue the entire gaming industry for using the internet :roll:

Cabal23
Cabal23

@ Drower READ the article. Where does it say anything about conceptual? This is software that many companies use. If it was such an unfair lawsuit, Microsoft would have never given in so easy. They knew they were wrong. Sorry to all the street lawyers on here, but Paltalk has every right to sue and they will win. It is a cut and dry case of infringement. Doesn't matter how long it took them to get the suit ready. They own it. If it was up to everyone on here, everything would be free to take and do what they want. Then no one would make any money. These suits set a precedence so future events like this won't happen. And to be honest the precedence has already been set in the umpteen million patent suits throughout history.

Wistful_Dread
Wistful_Dread

The three main issues with software patents are: (1) Little to no oversight, so several people often patent the same idea. (2) Commonly, the patented software not only doesn't exist, but is not yet technologically feasible. People tend to think up something, patent it, and never really bother to think whether it even CAN be made. Some don't even bother to check if it is already being provided. (3) Vague patenting. Most software patents are not actually patenting written software, but the idea of it. People often make vague patents that actually should cover several different software. -Many legislatures considered working over or even discarding software patents, but lobbying threw that idea out the window. Sad fact it, this is merely another one of those US legal screw-ups we have to deal with until Civil War 2012.

Mr_Bodywave
Mr_Bodywave

I am still confused why people here think that it is ok for someone to steal someone else's idea/patent. Some seem to think that since Palktalk didn't do much with it, that somehow that makes it OK for others to steal it. It doesn't. If I patent something and do NOTHING with it for a decade--that doesn't give someone else the right to steal my idea/patent. So I could patent, do nothing for 10 years and then sue anyone who infringed. They shouldn't infringe.

das_Ausmerzer
das_Ausmerzer

well, you could claim Microsoft as the unsung heroes here, in that they haven't allowed a court to decide and therefore there is no precedent set to be used against the other companies.

ValtielSuccubus
ValtielSuccubus

Dude, anything to score more $$$ ... blessed be the human way-

kristi_was_h123
kristi_was_h123

Software patents are a really bad idea. For many years there are issued over 10.000 patents yearly. Needless to say it's impossible for a small business to do research if they are breaking any of the 145,000 patents issued as of 2004. Which leaves the only the software giants able to write software since the can afford armies of lawyers to sort through all the patents and even that it's not 100% guarantee they are not breaking any patent. But if they do break some patent the can afford to settle the lawsuit. There were actually some cases when more than one individual was held the same patents. Oh and software patents are "only" valid for 20 years. I my opinion rather then promoting innovation as they were intended they actually manage to suppress it. More details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent http://www.nosoftwarepatents.com/en/m/dangers/index.html

TheDere
TheDere

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

taylormadederek
taylormadederek

I love how Microsoft handles its lawsuits. They always "win" in the end, and especially when compared to other companies. Remember the Immersion lawsuit for the rumble in controllers. Well, Microsoft cleaned up in that lawsuit while Sony and the big N got screwed. \ \ You need to realize when you can't win and need to just give in. Microsoft is very, very good at this. I wish these other companies good luck because with their Bull Headed attitude they will need it.