Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Activision Blizzard vs Patent Troll: WoW may continue to run - na logo!

August 9, 2021

Once again, after eleven years, a court has ruled in favor of Activision Blizzard's games, such as World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. The "once again" needs to be emphasized at this point because this isn't the first ruling in Activision Blizzard's legal battle against Worlds, Inc. But it stands to reason that this time the new ruling will be final.

Activision Blizzard v. Patent Trolls

US District Judge Denise J. Casper has ruled (via GamesIndustry.biz) that the patents held by Worlds, Inc are not inventions, but abstract ideas without use. More specifically, "Worlds claims that its claims are "directed to a novel client-server computer network architecture for 3-D virtual worlds." That description alone does not make the patents patentable inventions." You can read that for yourself if you want.

It goes on to say, "Client-server networks, virtual worlds, avatars, or position and orientation information are not Worlds' inventions, but its patents are directed to demonstrating their use in a technical environment." This should make it clear once and for all that Worlds, Inc's executives have no basis whatsoever to go after anything other than Activision Blizzard for alleged infringement of their patents.

The Neverending Story

The company Worlds, Inc is roughly what some US Americans would call a patent troll. Such companies or individuals use their patents inappropriately or secure patents without ever using the invention mentioned in the patent. Often, patent trolls use their patents merely to collect royalties or to go to court if someone shows opposition to the royalty collection. This is the case in Worlds, Inc v Activision Blizzard, which has been ongoing since 2009.

For example, US patent US 7181690 B1, held by Worlds, Inc, is a patent for "a system or method of allowing users of a virtual world to interact." Say: Every time you use chat to communicate with your fellow players in World of Warcraft (buy now €14.99 ), SWTOR, TESO, in MMORPGs, in MMO shooters, or in any other virtual world itself, you're using the system that Worlds, Inc's patent talks about. So, theoretically, any game maker of an online game would have to pay fees to World, Inc.

Whether the people of Worlds, Inc are really fed up now, remains to be seen.

Fun fact: US District Judge Denise J. Casper has been dealing with the dispute for just as many years. A 2014 ruling also came from her, in which she declared the invalidity of the appeals filed by Worlds, Inc executives. The inventions, Judge Casper said at the time, described in the patents would have appeared in the public domain before the patents were filed.

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