Multiplayer has become widely recognized within the game industry as a crucial component for keeping a game in gamers' consoles. In turn, a core aspect of an effective multiplayer mode is letting gamers communicate with one another through voice chat. However, the method by which EA, Sony, Ubisoft, and Disney have been allowing gamers to chat has purportedly been implemented without the consent of the company that owns the patented technology.
Last week, Plano, Texas-based Bareis Technologies filed a suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on grounds that the aforementioned gaming companies are in violation of one of its patents for optical disk-based voice recognition. The patent, which was awarded by the US Patent and Trademark Office in 1997, is described by Bareis as relating "to optical disks with speech recognition templates used to access information."
The suit specifically calls out a number of games from each of the companies as allegedly violating Bareis' patent. Ubisoft's Tom Clancy franchise is apparently a repeat offender, with games named including Rainbow Six: Lockdown, Rainbow Six 3, Rainbow Six Vegas, Ghost Recon 2, and EndWar, among others. The suit also named Sony's SOCOM franchise, EA's NASCAR series, and Disney Interactive Studios' Phonics Quest.
Bareis is seeking damages from all four companies in the form of royalties, negotiated at a reasonable rate, as well as interest on said royalties, attorney fees, and other relief as deemed by the court.