Sony, EA, Ubisoft, Disney settle voice chat suit

Four gaming companies reach "mutual agreement" with Bareis Technologies over patent claim filed last year.

Bareis Technologies took a handful of the biggest companies in gaming to court last November, and it appears as if the Texas-based company's efforts were not for naught. Last week, Bareis reached a "mutual agreement" with Sony Computer Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Disney Interactive Studios to dismiss its claims of patent infringement related to the gaming companies' use of voice chat in games.

EndWar would certainly be a very different game without voice chat.

Details of the settlement were not revealed. However, Bareis' original complaint sought royalties from the use of its technology, negotiated at a "reasonable rate." The motion to dismiss indicates that all parties will be responsible for their own legal fees and that all subsequent counterclaims related to the patent dispute have been dropped.

The patent in question was awarded by the US Patent and Trademark Office in 1997. It pertains "to optical disks with speech recognition templates used to access information."

Bareis took particular exception to Ubisoft's products, as the suit named a host of Tom Clancy games, including Rainbow Six: Lockdown, Rainbow Six 3, Rainbow Six Vegas, Ghost Recon 2, and EndWar. Bareis' suit also claimed violations from Sony's SOCOM franchise, EA's NASCAR series, and Disney Interactive Studios' Phonics Quest.

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Discussion

43 comments
i_noseworthy
i_noseworthy

@Smokedog: I think this lawsuit has to do with directing AI players with voice recognition, not chat among/between actual players. Voice commands, not voice chat.

lostn
lostn

I had this idea long before 97. I should have patented it first.

salty500
salty500

I bet sony and everyone else basiclly said to him, " we won't have you knocked off by one our highly trained assasins and you drop you claims" and he said "errr ok" lol

smoke_dog_4ever
smoke_dog_4ever

Basically it seems this guy/company put a patent on an idea that was the next logical step in the evolution of video gaming for the benefit of screwing somebody over in the end. If this guy has a right to sue SOE, Disney, and others, Alexander Graham Bell's family should have a right to sue this guy over infringment. This is all technology moving forward and logical steps forward in communication from already established concepts. I think this case should have been thrown out. People having been using headsets to communicate in video games since the Doom days through LAN, well before 1997. And then a few years later as new technology develops (CD's, DVD's) SHOCK! GASP! An opportunist sees those media as a source for new video games and VOIP and puts a patent on the concept of a logical progression in voice communication. Opportunism at its finest.

route151
route151

If you do not wish for people to enjoy your product, never publish it. As at the end of the day, it is the consumer that pays the company, one big vicious cycle. The companies could wait for patients to expire, but if you do that technology moves at a snail's pace, but we would have more money in the bank. I know an old lady who swallowed a fly, I don't know why she swallowed that fly, I guess she'll die. I know an old lady who swallowed a spider, how absurd? She swallowed that spider to catch the fly...

Smarty12
Smarty12

@StJimmy15 So basically the people that invented voice chat in games are now suing game companies that use it? Nice, making money out of that. So, Sony,Ubi,EA and Disney didn't pay to use voice chat and now they're getting sued. Ok I got it, thx.

decoy1978
decoy1978

We see this quite recently... Infinity Ward creators who don't "own" their idea will get pushed around. If you had something original and had it patented only to see some other schmuck makes money off your plans, I'd want my cut or there will be a lawsuit coming. We live in a world where you HAVE to secure your ideas. Its either that or get robbed.

STRIFE9288
STRIFE9288

how is that dumb?? if you came up with something and someone else stole your idea don't you want to get whats rightfully yours?? hell I know I would want my money, you guys are retarded with no train of thought. america is a country based off ideas, and some people are SMART enough to make sure they own their ideas. woooooooow, pathetic people, pathetic.

Pete5506
Pete5506

What a dumb thing to be fighting over

kamizuka
kamizuka

next they should sue their fathers because they gave them daddy issues

zzamaro
zzamaro

I wish I could patent the alphabet, so I could sue everyone...even the judge.

exedeath
exedeath

I love the stuff America will let you get patented. Someone actually patented the idea of mixing 2 cereals in a bowl and eating them with milk. This has gotten out of hand a long time ago.

Phazevariance
Phazevariance

I wonder why no one has patented using HDMI to connect two devices... sounds vague enough to actually get allowed like most patents. Perhaps next people will patent GUI interfaces used on cell phones, so that apps must all have different GUI interfaces...

lamprey263
lamprey263

If I remember reading more of this patent in the past it was designed for hands free interface, which none of these games have that, rather voice commands were additional input options to accompany controller use, and more specifically it was designed around accessing media, like if I'm in my car say "play Michael Jackson's Thriller", however the voice command isn't exactly a media accessing feature but more of an interactive command feature. I'm surprised they settled because I thought they could fight it.

gamer082009
gamer082009

Half these patents shouldn't be allowed in the first place. What if I patent game controllers in the toilet.

-HCMF-
-HCMF-

and now games will be 79 bucks...

Beastcake
Beastcake

Another day, another lawsuit.

wbezuidenhout
wbezuidenhout

@Dominicobaggio, The big problem is that quite often people sit on very "generic" patents, doing nothing with the idea apart from holding on to it. Try searching for Bareis Technologies - nothing... Your example is the "ideal" example of patent law working well - protecting a smaller company who developed a product from being steamrolled by a larger one. Unfortunately it is rarely the case (And since I haven't been able to find a single product of Bareis Technologies, considering the patent was filed in June 1995, I don't think that's the case now either). For a business, a lawsuit is also an expense, one you want to minimize - very often you'll find large companies settle out of court, not because they're wrong, just because it will be cheaper than going to court. They reached a mutual agreement to DISMISS claims of patent infringement, i.e., Bareis Technologies was happy to accept that there was NO patent infringement - for a sum of money. Sounds like Barighm's description to me...

ahpuck
ahpuck

In that case, Alexander Graham Bell should sue them all! if he was only alive. No seriously, this kind of lawsuits really makes me mad. but, whatever, they are never going to end.

Dominicobaggio
Dominicobaggio

@barighm More like "Ok we are a small company but we have this amazing idea. Now lets market it to the big boys and sell it since its taken us all these years to get it working" Big boys "Ohh we dont need to pay those maggots for it, just make our own version copying theirs and change it a slight amount, then when they try to sue we will just scare them off by countersueing!! Money talks!!" Sorry but if the big companies paid out, they were in the wrong, they wouldnt admit to paying their own expenses otherwise. Quite suprised at how you all jump onto the side of the mega corps here. Well actually no im not, thats why the world is like it is...

Barighm
Barighm

"Okay, I'm a techno dude but I don't really feel like going through all that trouble of actually forming a business and marketing and blah blah blah...I'll just create my prototypes, buy my patents, and sit back and relax and wait til somebody else does well with them. Let's see...this guy is using it, but it sucks. Nope. How about this guy? Nah, his sales is moderate. Oh, look at these guys! Wow, they're selling millions of these things. Let's see...yeah, my patent looks a lot like this guy's stuff. Jackpot!"

Frankasti
Frankasti

"to optical disks with speech recognition templates used to access information." 1997 ... they patented and waited? I was using this in Rainbow Six on my Xbox back in the days. Why they waited until now? ... i wonder why ; )

mariostar0001
mariostar0001

@BlueFlameBat Joking of course, but you never know. :o

CMakaCreative
CMakaCreative

It's like these people are setting patent boobie traps & waiting patiently for someone to spring them. Quick, someone file a patent for a something game related. I'm going with a suit that controls your character without the need of a camera or infered beams.

GodGundamNT1
GodGundamNT1

so how come they never sued Microsoft for XBox Live, more BS

BlueFlameBat
BlueFlameBat

@mariostar0001 Are you serious or just guessing? Your accusation is actually believable.

mariostar0001
mariostar0001

@BlueFlameBat It's the same guy suing everyone with fraudulent corporations trying to make his daily pay by winning a case every decade. :P

BlueFlameBat
BlueFlameBat

What is it with obscure Texas companies and lawsuits?

ASG_
ASG_

I hate small, picky suits like this one.

twistedmalice
twistedmalice

I can hear the money rolling in. Smart of Bareis to get some money out of it.

boarwar
boarwar

oh wow, who cares, AI is still as smart as my dog. not like the tech is going far.... How come Nintendo let M$ take their Mii's? isn't that a DIRECT rip off?

StJimmy15
StJimmy15

@Smarty12 Copyright infringement. Think of it like this: You have an idea, in this case voice controls for a video game, and you have that patented. If anyone uses this technology without paying you or seeking your approval, you can sue them for royalties. Its a flawed system.

JOKER677
JOKER677

hopefully this doesn't effect the release date of socom 4

childe_roland
childe_roland

This is too bad, Ubi is a great company with a huge roster of excellent titles, shame to see 'em involved in something like this.

herodotus2006
herodotus2006

The liuttle guy once more having to resort to legal tactics and threats to obtain what's rightfully theirs from the megacorps. M$, Ubersoft, Sony et al. should have just been honest and upfront from the start...but that's a pipedream, isn't it? Capatilism...man it's got problems for all but the rich.

Smarty12
Smarty12

Does it say anywhere in the article clearly why EA,SCE,Ubi and Disney are being sued? Because I sure don't get it!

atopp399
atopp399

Ubisoft sucks. I hate that company. I hope it cost them millions.