Sony, EA, Ubisoft, Disney named in patent suit

Texas-based Bareis Technologies contends SOCOM, Tom Clancy, NASCAR franchises violate protected disk-based speech recognition method.

164 Comments

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.

Stick to hand signals, and everything should be OK.
Stick to hand signals, and everything should be OK.

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.

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gzcandyman

Lets face it companies knew that it is cheaper to get sued later than to pay first... take them to the cleaner "BOYS"

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wahyudil

again .... another leecher

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lostn

R34Vegeta Posted Nov 18, 2009 5:50 pm GMT "Read the patent and it does seem pretty valid, but it doesn't explain why they waited this long to actually file suit." The longer they wait, the more money they can extract. When the Wii reaches 100m units, it will get hit with another patent suit. The small opportunistic company owning the suit is waiting so they can maximize their profits. They get interest on royalties as well, so the longer they wait, the more interest. Getting paid just the royalties will net them less money than an infringement would because they will ask for extra damages.

Avatar image for deactivated-5cd05fa50bb7d

Cmon Ubisoft and SONY are awesome!

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electroban

It's a fair law suit, it's not asthough Ubisoft is going to use the unreal engine in a game without seeking complete licencse first. The same should go with any outsourced material a company uses that isn't part if their own development.

Avatar image for MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

We should get a drinking game going on, a chug for each time a lawsuit happens in the video game industry, anybody up for this?

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kamizuka

i am happy that Disney is getting sued but i Hope Sony and Ubi get out of this

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vipinbaadshah

Wrong!!!Atleast Ubisoft has no hand in this, They can develop any software on their own

Avatar image for Ryouji_kaji
Ryouji_kaji

This is all getting way out of hand. Basically people can put as vague a patent on anything they want. The patent company are just as much at fault here than the people suing. Are there suppose to be rules and regulations on what can and cannot be patented? I put a patent on undergarments that cover (but are not limited to) genitalia. So now anyone wearing or producing boxers, undies, knickers, panties, thongs etc, before or after I have made said patent... you all owe me money. See you in court.

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Alucard7321

Man it seems every month or two there is a lawsuit being filed by an American company - Honesty I think it's their idea of wiggling its way out of a recession...(But then again I was nearly sued by Jeremy Soule back in 2007 because I said I didn't like his music in PREY but loved his music in everything else so...)...depths humans sink to.

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BlueFlameBat

Shut up! Shut up!! Shut up!!! I couldn't even read the whole article!! It seems Texas is becoming a breeding ground for court leeches!! At this point, I don't care if Sony, EA, UbiSoft, and Disney actually had spies or took the technology by gunpoint! I am sick of these damn lawsuits!!!

Avatar image for mike_on_mic
mike_on_mic

Optical Disc Voice Recognition, how is this different to Magnetic Disk Voice Recognition, or Solid State. We have had voice recognition technology for ages, sure it hasn't always been successful, but at the same time, how does implementing on a different storage medium make things different, it needs to load the program that accepts the input and begin intrepting the wave pattern of the voice sent. Would this process change base don the media it is on. And by naming so many people, they are either hoping for favourable results or out of court settlements. I can understand if there is a legitimate case for this, but I want to know HOW, do these people play these games and determine that it infringes their patent. Have they seen the code, or like raven28256 mentioned that it is so vague. Our patent is about how an optical disc can be used to store data that is then loaded and used to do wave form analysis on the incoming stream of audio. I hope they lose this one, really, it is just silly.

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TheAustrian

Yet another ridiculous lawsuit from a company just looking to profit of the success of another. Why didn't you guys freak out back when SOCOM came out? Or when Halo 2 was using voice chat? Instead, you wait until you think you can make the biggest steal. Morons.

Avatar image for KillerWabbit23
KillerWabbit23

Think of it as free advertising, not legal infringement. Anyway, this would just make more people sad if this was screwed over. I'm American, and I'm not proud to say that this can happen A LOT.

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tyrrin

Another frivolous law suit! The American legal system is ridiculous...

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Hitman2500

This is stupid

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Alf

lol :) i love America. There's always one over there to amuse me ^^

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xxsuperbananaxx

This is stupid

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twistedmalice

These companies have been using this for years. Now Bareis wants to sue, I guess they need the money.

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kamizuka

awww....i am going to sue game spot AGAIN for giving me a head-ache

Avatar image for BaLLz_ON_FiRE
BaLLz_ON_FiRE

The thing what disturbs me is seeing Sony and Disney in the same sentence with the word suit :(

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Trogeton

those are some great FPS games

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Sethbeastalan

I hate these type of scams. So, in the immortal words of Tiny Tim. God smite them, everyone one.

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raven28256

Patent trolls strike again! This is just another example of patent trolls trademarking an extremely vague idea and waiting in the shadows for someone to make something vaguely similar and, once it is successful, the trolls jump from under their bridge screaming "AHA! LAWSUIT!" It is just another way for parasitic hacks to feed off the life-blood of people far more creative and successful than they are, and these cases highlight everything that is wrong with our patent system. Every time we have a patent troll case like this, I wonder why we haven't fixed the system so that these patent trolls can't trademark such an extremely vague, generic idea and wait over a decade for someone to strike gold with it so they can get some easy cash off a trademark they haven't even done anything with. Oh, and as to why these are all in Texas: Texas is pretty much a breeding ground for patent trolls. Texas courts are notoriously biased against non-American companies in cases like these. Notice how two of the companies mentioned are foreign. This means that the patent trolls are pretty much automatically guaranteed success in those two cases, no matter how paper-thin their argument is, because Texas courts tend to be highly xenophobic in these cases.

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RonTorque

Lame/

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VectrexFanBoy

@ BtmnHatesRbn Lol i was thinking of seaman also.

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angelGP32

i was going to say, is it just me or do these all seem to come from Plano, TX??? This should be thrown out of court, I don't care if the patent was infringed, did this company lose any profit from the sell of video games? NO because the company has no intention of releasing it's own games to compete. Ridiculous and should be tossed out.

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Pacman_Toad

This america is sue crazy ive had enough every body just wants to get more money

Avatar image for leeko_link
leeko_link

Of all the patent troll in the country, why does it always had to be from Texas? Also this is like the third (or fourth, I'm not sure) time Sony got sued this year, why in the h*** does everyone keep picking on them?

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strayfies

Yeah, if I went through the trouble of developing and then patenting something, I'd want my due as well. Big businesses know better than to steal, these ones just got caught. If RIAA is going to sue anyone they can prove stole music, it's not too much to expect the same on a much larger scale. Consequence time.

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hannify

They took our jeeeerrrbs

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JohnGone

@ Kashmiro couldnt agree more. @ everyone yelling 'Patent Trolls' read Kashmiro's post. they cant be trolls if they are reasonable

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Megamanx266

*head spins from reading technical lingo in patent*

Avatar image for Kashmiro
Kashmiro

Finally someone actually asking for what is reasonable... All they want is the lawyer paid for and the royalties. It the argument is real then I'd say that is a fair payment.

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archerus

@ Caml10 Its linked in the article

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xatman911

There should be a law against patent trolls that they can only sue up to something like an year. So in this case they should have sued in an years time of the first game.

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nyix

patent trolls in the news again. just learned about these in my game tech degree. the company behind the patent only patented the mechanic to trap companies with it. then when a company big enough to sue uses it. they swoop in and put a patent infringement case against the company. defending against a patent infringement can cost upwards of 5-10 million, so a lot of the time these patent trolls offer a settlement fee (usually royalties or a 1 off payment to keep their mouth shut)

Avatar image for Gjinckxs85
Gjinckxs85

Even if this patent is no joke, it better explicitly outline how it is used. You can't just say that you have a patent for disk based voice recognition and expect everyone to pay you for it. These companies must be using your specific method.

Avatar image for steven141
steven141

@ Suicide-Panda There are various amounts of time patents can last, i believe the standard is 20 years though. I am not in favour of this patent, everyone uses it and a patent should be completely new and innovative, not just talking switched from over the phone to a disc. Oh well, anything for money, patents cost a lot to get so i suppose they would want to get money out of it.

Avatar image for R34Vegeta
R34Vegeta

Read the patent and it does seem pretty valid, but it doesn't explain why they waited this long to actually file suit.

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mrzero1982pt2

huh?

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xxgunslingerxx

@Suicide-Panda hi stupid :P patents life plus 50 or possibly 70 i cant remember right now

Avatar image for blackwingzero
blackwingzero

This is kind of hard to believe. You'd think these major company's would wan't to avoid this kind of situation but here we are. We'll just have to wait and see how this plays out in court.

Avatar image for Suicide-Panda
Suicide-Panda

call me stupid, but dont patents only last a max of 6 years or sumit?

Avatar image for -RPGamer-
-RPGamer-

I would agree that if these people cared about their concept (as vague as it is) they would have nipped this a long time ago. I would venture to say that some of these patents are designed for scamming. I also think that accessing information with an object should not be granted a patent. I can gain access to information with countless other objects, I don't see what makes speech an exception.

Avatar image for im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

Technology evolves at such a rapid pace that I bet if you made something up for your video game, it's probably hard to find a specific patent that you might be infringing on. I would check the patent offices for certain things, but I bet it's hard to find all the patents out there containing to your product so I find this a bit unfair. I can see if they stole this tech without paying, but this is something that seems like a logical way to use voice chat and the developers probably didn't even think they were infringing.

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Caml10

Maybe I'm being too picky, but "to access information" doesn't quite seem to fit. I mean, isn't voice chat for, oh, I dunno, communication? If they used voice commands to navigate menus or execute commands (which only one of the games [EndWar] does, to my knowlege), then I could see an infringement in the accessing of information, but to simply communicate with other players? Doesn't seem to fall under the blanket of information accessing. @archerus, where did you find the patent?

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brendanhunt1

go back under your bridge you greedy trolls

Avatar image for mav_destroyer
mav_destroyer

@ andy_lyall ah that makes sense. i was under the impression that patents last 10 years max but yeah technology has advanced greatly from that time so i don't think this patent applies to these games and i doubt these companies just started now to use technology that's over 10 years old in their games i also wonder if it applies to DVDs and BDs. the patent seems to talk about CDs

Avatar image for ubergusterfan
ubergusterfan

There is a valid reason for patent infringement lawsuits. Sometimes they are frivolous, for sure, but this one seems like it may have some merit. I would like a little more information, because if the patent is simply optical disks with speech recognition templates then it might be a little too broad. But just remember, if you spent the time and money to invent a technology, then register the patent with the government, then you want assurance that you are not going to be ripped off.