Plaintiff's Attorney in Player-IGE Lawsuit Speaks to The Escapist

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The part that makes me snicker about reading all this... A good chunk of folks seem to be saying "it's good, not bad", etc... Meaningless.

The lawsuit is based upon the EULA -- is IGE violating it? Well, looking at it, anyone that buys or sells in-game items for real world money is violating it. The lawsuit is to make them follow the rules vs profiting by breaking them so all the "economy" stuff is pretty wasted beyond it's messing with some people and the "foundation" for any financial setelments.

They are breaking the rules laid out for everyone to follow in this game and are making money by breaking rules that EVERYONE is suposed to follow. That means this guy does have grounds for this lawsuit and might actually win. Comming in from this standpoint vs "Intelectual property" or the like and it gets real fuzzy. Comming in from a "game with rules, I follow them, you break them. YOu make money breaking them. Pay up and/or get out."

There are rules. The rules are expected to be followed and there sits IGE, breaking those rules, to make money BY breaking them... Yup, I'd say it should prove rather interesting to see how this suit goes.

I agree, Eleazaros. The approach the plaintiffs' attorney is taking seems like it could be very effective. They're avoiding all the traps and pitholes of trying to define whether it's property or not. The analogy to pooping in the well made earlier in the thread was also excellent.

IGE seems like it will have to argue that the EULA is not enforceable or not intended to benefit the players.

Eleazaros,
You are correct in your assertion that the EULA are the rules, but concerning those rules, it is necessary to point out that the parties who may enforce those rules are limited. If you employ a painter to paint your house, and he paints half of it and refuses to continue, I cannot sue him to enforce the contract between you and the painter. This is true even if I am your next door neighbor, and your half painted house is irritating me. If you have decided that you do not wish to enforce your contract against the Painter, I have no recourse in the courts.

Mr. Hernandez is going forward under a theory of intended third party beneficiary, but he will fail because Blizzard clearly did not intend to form a contract that would create causes of action against every customer who breaks the EULA. The clause in the contract that gold-farmers breach is intended to protect the property of Blizzard; it is not intended to protect the virtual property of the customers. Blizzard would be quick to assert that they indeed own all of the virtual property held by players, so an interpretation of that clause that protects the players' interest in that virtual property would be absurd on its face.

Furthermore, Mr. Hernandez's filing also has issues concerning his constitutional standing. He must assert an injury in fact, which is an invasion of a legally protected interest which concrete and particularized, actual or imminent, and not conjectural or hypothetical. He has no legally protected interest here because he is not a party or an intended third party beneficiary to the EULA. His actual, concrete, and particularized injury is even more dubious, considering that he's claiming to have lost the value of his subscription fees, but also indicates that he spends many hours playing the game. I think a judge would find it hard to believe that a person who spends many hours playing a game every month would not realize 15 dollars in entertainment value during that period. The environmental effects on the game that other posters have commented on would fail the hypothetical or conjectural limitation.

What it boils down to is, only Blizzard is capable of bringing this suit, and they're not wasting their time and money on this nonsense.

CaelanPaige:

If you employ a painter to paint your house, and he paints half of it and refuses to continue, I cannot sue him to enforce the contract between you and the painter. This is true even if I am your next door neighbor, and your half painted house is irritating me.

Unless, of course, one of the reasons you hired the painter was so I, your neighbor, could look at a freshly painted house. Check the first page of this thread for the link to Wikipedia on Third Party Beneficiaries, and read the part on intended vs. incidental beneficiaries. What you described is an incidental beneficiary; what I described is an intended one. And yes--intended beneficiaries can enforce a third party contract.

CaelanPaige:
Mr. Hernandez is going forward under a theory of intended third party beneficiary, but he will fail because Blizzard clearly did not intend to form a contract that would create causes of action against every customer who breaks the EULA. The clause in the contract that gold-farmers breach is intended to protect the property of Blizzard; it is not intended to protect the virtual property of the customers.

I think you missed the thrust of the argument--it's not about protecting virtual property, but about protecting the game experience. And that's not the only theory he's going forward under--he's also going forward under Fair Trade statutes. There's a link to an Escapist article that links to the actual complaint on the first page of this thread.

CaelanPaige:
His actual, concrete, and particularized injury is even more dubious, considering that he's claiming to have lost the value of his subscription fees.

No, he's claiming that all persons bound by the ToS promised not to buy gold. Breach of contract is a very concrete injury.

CaelanPaige:
I think a judge would find it hard to believe that a person who spends many hours playing a game every month would not realize 15 dollars in entertainment value during that period. The environmental effects on the game that other posters have commented on would fail the hypothetical or conjectural limitation.

Umm, damages that come from an act in the marketplace prohibited by contract are neither hypothetical or conjectural. Otherwise no one would ever have standing to sue under a non-compete clause.

This attorney is an a-hole.

This has nothing to do with him or his "client." If there really is a "client."

If this was a big issue with Vivendi Games, they would take legal action themselves.

This attorney needs to stop looking at non existent dollar signs and go back to ambulance chasing

/cheer! \o/

Finally someone has the coconuts to take on IGE and hit them where it hurts the most: The pocket book!

I play both WoW and EVE. EVE has a very effective way of dealing with ISKsellers: Players can kill the in-game characters that are ISK sellers and there is usually a rush to do so when one rears his ugly mug. So what if you get a security ding (I do it on an alt), the satisfaction of seeing one of these slimeballs go up in smoke is worth it. Known ISK farmers and spammers rarely set foot outside stations because they know they are immediate targets.

WoW is a different story: After filing literally over 200 petitions (10 - 15 in a 4 hour time frame per day over several weeks!) against Gold Farmer Spammers in WoW, and not having Blizzard/VU do anything about it, I just threw up my hands and gave up.

Blizzard created their own worst nightmare by allowing "trial accounts" which are handed out like candy on websites and magazines. Free 14 day accounts are the prime tools which the Gold Spammers use. Shutting down one of these trial accounts does nothing but delay the Spammers momentarily because they have a stack of trial account numbers that they can use sitting right there. Blizzard won't do away with the trial accounts because the marketing geeks won't let them.

One action I didn't hear Blizzard taking was to go after the Gold Sites' hosting ISP's and file FUA (Fair Usage Complaints) against the spammers' sites. Hit their hosting, take down their sites, make the farmers spend their money on setting up new ones.

A welcome addition to WoW would be to let players set their own filters. Examples: No PM's (Private Messages) from players under lvl 10 unless they are in your guild or on your friends list, no raid invites from players under lvl 10 (same parameters), no PM's from trial accounts, just to name a few. Ignore doesn't work because the spammers are actually smart enough to use different gibberish names every time! (I know that's a shock for some folks!)

But kudos to Blizzard for implementing the new Spammer reporting system in this latest patch. I have actually gone several days without GF spams since the last patch. Although now you get /s (say) spammers standing next to the mailbox and auction house but you can report just as easily and quickly with this new system.

As for Gold Farmers ruining my gaming experience, I have one word example for WoW Veterans: Felwood (stop rolling your eyes!). Prior to Burning Crusade, the NW corner of Felwood was literally owned by Farmers on any server you went to. If you weren't a member of the resident farmer clan, you had mobs trained on you, you were kill stole, you had constant raid/group invites, trades, etc thrown at you in attempt to drive you out of that area, and that was on a PvE server. Lord help you if you were on a PvP server. On PvP servers unguilded toons of the opposing faction would appear and you would be mass ganked as soon as you set foot (or hoof) in that area.

I do recognize one fact: Blizzard/VU has gone through great lengths to plan out zones to be as Gold Farmer "unfriendly" as possible in Burning Crusade (Outland). Let's see some GF run a auto-target gold farming bot in Hellfire... Bing! Targeting Fel Reaver... WHAP! *Fel Reaver train whistle sound* *sound of GF being squished*... /laugh from all witnesses.

I hope Mr. Hernandez and his lawyer hang IGE out to dry and all that's left of IGE and their operation is a dried husk that will blow away in the next hurricane to hit Miami. It's companies like IGE that drive the Gold Farmer industry, and if you remove one of the major drivers, you may just get the message through to the other Gold Farmers and then maybe normal (?) players like myself can sit down and enjoy playing a game without the pain and agony of continual gold farmer spam or having to compete with Farmbois for spawns you need for quests and game enjoyment.

Kesash:
Are the gold farmers REALLY hurting your gameplay? I thought not.

All of these complaints against people that buy gold/items for real life money only stem from jealousy. Boohoo, they have better stuffs than I have.

Dude, grow a pair and stop being jealous. If you want that stuff then pony up and buy it or work for it ingame.

Stop being a wuss

The law concerning intended third party beneficiary has elements that are required to be met for a party claiming TPB status to enforce a contract between two other parties. Although it is not necessary for a TPB to be directly mentioned in the contract, a direct and clearly expressed intent to benefit a third party or class must be in the contract. (and of course, it must be a valid contract, which is not at issue here)

So in our Painter hypo, if the contract stated, "The painter promises to paint the house of Cheeze Pavilion in exchange for $500 due at completion of the service." Under this contract, the neighbor would not be able to sue the painter to enforce the contract. Here, Neighbor is an incidental third party beneficiary. If the contract read, "The painter promises to paint the house of Cheeze Pavilion, so that Neighbor may enjoy the freshly painted house of Cheeze Pavilion, in exchange for $500 due at the completion of the service." Then the neighbor would have a valid cause of action to sue the painter for specific performance because the contract expressly and clearly identified the third party beneficiary.

I have reproduced the pertinent language of the Terms of Use contract so that we may determine whether or not Mr. Hernandez is an intended third party beneficiary.
__
Ownership/Selling of the Account or Virtual Items.
Blizzard does not recognize the transfer of Accounts. You may not purchase, sell, gift or trade any Account, or offer to purchase, sell, gift or trade any Account, and any such attempt shall be null and void. Blizzard owns, has licensed, or otherwise has rights to all of the content that appears in the Program. You agree that you have no right or title in or to any such content, including the virtual goods or currency appearing or originating in the Game, or any other attributes associated with the Account or stored on the Service. Blizzard does not recognize any virtual property transfers executed outside of the Game or the purported sale, gift or trade in the "real world" of anything related to the Game. Accordingly, you may not sell items for "real" money or otherwise exchange items for value outside of the Game.
___
This language is pretty simple, and contains no indication that the purpose behind the prohibition on transfer of accounts or virtual goods or currency is to benefit a third party. In fact, the purpose behind the prohibition is clearly indicated, the purpose is to protect the property rights of Blizzard in the virtual goods, currency, and other content which it retains ownership of in this contract.

The burden of proof is on Mr. Hernandez to show that Blizzard had included a direct and clear intent to benefit him and his class into this clause of the contract.

As to the other claims that Mr. Hernandez is making concerning tortuous interference of business relationship and unfair trade practices, the filing is not sufficiently clear to determine how exactly the facts of Mr. Hernandez's case fit into the law here. Mr. Hernandez does not make specific claims, and he does not illustrate the law with cases. He simply alleges the violation of these statutes.

Your arguments concerning his injury being a breach of contract go back to the issue of whether he is an intended third party beneficiary. A breach of contract is a concrete and particularized invasion of a legally protected interest; however, only parties to a contract or intended third party beneficiaries have a legally protected interest there to be protected. Without a better argument that Mr. Hernandez is an intended third party beneficiary, his injury in fact argument based on breach of contract is not valid.

Your last point concerning damages, regarding the violation of a restrictive covenant, also brings us back to whether or not Mr. Hernandez is an intended third party beneficiary. Restrictive covenants, such as non-compete agreements, or agreements not to transfer virtual goods or currency, are still contracts that may only be enforced by parties to the contract, or intended third party beneficiaries.

Depending on how the Florida statutes are interpreted, the unfair trade practices may be the only claim that Mr. Hernandez can continue under, unfortunately, without more specific allegations, I'm not sure it's possible to analyze his arguments under those statutes.

CaelanPaige:
"Depending on how the Florida statutes are interpreted, [snip]"

Unfortunately, for me, Florida is a backwoods state. I know because I live in FL.

Law does not apply in Florida. It is just a bunch of good ole' boys making crap up as they go. (see Jeb Bush) (Now we have the homosexual Charlie Crisp as Gov.)

Florida does have good beaches though.

Just a note. The Law Firm responsible for this is providing a form online for anyone wanting to join the suit.

I'm no lawyer but I don't think this firm would have picked this suit up if they didn't think they had a good chance us succeeding or gaining something, and even if they do settle out of court it'd make a huge positive statement for the MMO community. Companies like IGE think they're untouchable but even an out of court settlement would prove they are not.

Great points, Caelan.

It leads me to wonder if Blizzard purposely left out (and wants it to remain so) clauses that protect third party beneficiaries. You know, opening a can of worms and such.

thal001:

Glad you could join the conversation Richard.

This case will be dismissed very quickly based on the absurdness it is based on. oops, I forgot, this will be tried in Florida. We can't even vote right and this case might make a precedent? LOL

CaelanPaige:
So in our Painter hypo, if the contract stated, "The painter promises to paint the house of Cheeze Pavilion in exchange for $500 due at completion of the service." Under this contract, the neighbor would not be able to sue the painter to enforce the contract. Here, Neighbor is an incidental third party beneficiary. If the contract read, "The painter promises to paint the house of Cheeze Pavilion, so that Neighbor may enjoy the freshly painted house of Cheeze Pavilion, in exchange for $500 due at the completion of the service." Then the neighbor would have a valid cause of action to sue the painter for specific performance because the contract expressly and clearly identified the third party beneficiary.

I have reproduced the pertinent language of the Terms of Use contract so that we may determine whether or not Mr. Hernandez is an intended third party beneficiary.
__
Ownership/Selling of the Account or Virtual Items.
Blizzard does not recognize the transfer of Accounts. You may not purchase, sell, gift or trade any Account, or offer to purchase, sell, gift or trade any Account, and any such attempt shall be null and void. Blizzard owns, has licensed, or otherwise has rights to all of the content that appears in the Program. You agree that you have no right or title in or to any such content, including the virtual goods or currency appearing or originating in the Game, or any other attributes associated with the Account or stored on the Service. Blizzard does not recognize any virtual property transfers executed outside of the Game or the purported sale, gift or trade in the "real world" of anything related to the Game. Accordingly, you may not sell items for "real" money or otherwise exchange items for value outside of the Game.
___

Right, but you missed section 5: Rules of Conduct, C: Rules Related to Game Play

--------
Game play is what World of Warcraft is all about, and Blizzard strictly enforces the rules that govern game play. Blizzard considers most conduct to be part of the Game, and not harassment...Nonetheless, certain acts go beyond what is "fair" and are considered serious violations of these Terms of Use. Those acts include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

2. Conduct prohibited by the EULA or these Terms of Use, including without limitation that conduct prohibited by Section 2(C); and
3. Anything that Blizzard considers contrary to the "essence" of the Program.
----------

To me, it seems pretty certain that Blizzard considers any violation of the EULA and ToU to be 'unfair' and "harrassment." This seems to be a pretty clear and express incorporation of violations of the ToU into a section that pretty clearly and expressly is meant to benefit the third-party players. I mean, that's a pretty weak argument: rules designed to protect game play are not designed to benefit the people playing the game?

CaelanPaige:
Mr. Hernandez does not make specific claims, and he does not illustrate the law with cases. He simply alleges the violation of these statutes.

Yeah, that's because this is a complaint, not a brief. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complaint as opposed to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brief_%28law%29

CaelanPaige:
Depending on how the Florida statutes are interpreted, the unfair trade practices may be the only claim that Mr. Hernandez can continue under, unfortunately, without more specific allegations, I'm not sure it's possible to analyze his arguments under those statutes.

So, isn't it a little early to say "What it boils down to is, only Blizzard is capable of bringing this suit, and they're not wasting their time and money on this nonsense"?

Echolocating:
I don't know. The whole thing smells of pocket protectors and zit cream.

I don't know, that's kinda weird logic to me. It's not nerdy to play the game, but it is nerdy to sue someone who has no interest in the game except to make a profit off it while disrupting the gameplay experience?

In that case, isn't it nerdy to argue over something that's nerdy? On the internet no less? ;-)

Just sayin: people who live in nerd houses shouldn't throw pocket protectors...

den010:
Kesash:
Are the gold farmers REALLY hurting your gameplay? I thought not.

All of these complaints against people that buy gold/items for real life money only stem from jealousy. Boohoo, they have better stuffs than I have.

Dude, grow a pair and stop being jealous. If you want that stuff then pony up and buy it or work for it ingame.

Stop being a wuss

*flashes my Thunderfury that I ->*worked*<- 10 months to get. It was my butt in the seat getting the 100 Arcane Crystals in Ungoro racing farmers to get to the Rich Thorium Veins, running MC and BWL to get the bindings and ores with 39 other folks, mind you... I was in tier 2 gear when BC hit and that stuff isn't handed to you. I had help from my friends and my guild, but it was ME in the seat, not some Farmboi.

You're the wuss. You're probably one of these kids that come into WoW with Power Leveled Characters that don't know that they can SHEEP beasts with a lvl 63 mage and that have gear that they would normally have no freaking skill to get to begin with.

I'm not jealous at all. I have 4 toons (two at lvl 70...) in Outland, working on my epic flying mount for my main (2K gold to go!) Oh, I've been playing WoW for about 2 1/2 years and I have EARNED and WORKED FOR every thing that I have, I have a FULL TIME JOB, Family (oh, my wife plays WoW too) and I still have time to be the Guild Lead of a 30+ account guild. It's the little "I want it, I want it now, but I don't want to work for it" wussies like you (I call people like that "Veruca Salts") who throw their money (or is it Mommy's money?) at a Gold Farmer or Power Leveler that ruins this game. Go play "Teh Sims". It's more your style and level of mentality. You probably wouldn't know MC from STV.

PWND!

Yes, the Gold Farmers do hurt my game play. They hurt it when they make me waste my playing time trying to break their camps on spawns so I can advance my level or job skill. They hurt it when they drive up prices in the AH to outrageous heights. They hurt by wasting my playing time when I have to sit there and petition when they spam. They hurt my game play when they come up and harass me for Food and Water on my mage. They hurt my game play when they disrupt raids and instances with their spam. They hurt my game play when somehow they get invited to raids or instances and they Ninja Loot items to sell in the AH. (all of these have personally happened to me!)

den010:
thal001:

Glad you could join the conversation Richard.

This case will be dismissed very quickly based on the absurdness it is based on. oops, I forgot, this will be tried in Florida. We can't even vote right and this case might make a precedent? LOL

You my friend are a nut who spends to much time on forums.

*reels in the catch*

den010:
*irrelevant nonsense caused by terminal immaturity*

I'm not interested in a flamewar. I just want to see us finally get some satisfaction by seeing companies like IGE and their ilk get what they deserve. I've seen the gold farming trend get progressively worse since it started in EQ. They don't hesitate to use cheats and exploits to help them get ahead. Now couple that with their ability to offer huge amounts of gold that wouldn't normally be in the economy and their ninja'ing resources from players who just are trying to have fun and play the game the way the developers intended and I think there's little doubt that companies like IGE and those that support them DO have a negative impact on legitimate players gaming experience.

If someone says this doesn't bother their gameplay either directly or indirectly then they're either a farmer or a buyer. I see no inbetween.

So, yeah I'll promote that lawyer's site and would love to see anyone from WoW that's had enough of IGE and the gold farmer crap to join the suit.

thal001:

If someone says this doesn't bother their gameplay either directly or indirectly then they're either a farmer or a buyer. I see no inbetween.

It's rhetoric like that why I can't take this side of the argument seriously.

Joe:

thal001:

If someone says this doesn't bother their gameplay either directly or indirectly then they're either a farmer or a buyer. I see no inbetween.

It's rhetoric like that why I can't take this side of the argument seriously.

*nods* That's certainly your prerogative, and perhaps I should have added 'or they're in denial' but regardless it doesn't change my opinion. Goldselling/buying and anything associated with it has been bringing MMOs that prohibit it down for years and it's extremely difficult for me to believe it hasn't negatively effected every MMO'ers gameplay either directly or indirectly at one point or another.

Also,

It's easier for you to take the opposite side seriously with statements like this:

All of these complaints against people that buy gold/items for real life money only stem from jealousy. Boohoo, they have better stuffs than I have.

Dude, grow a pair and stop being jealous. If you want that stuff then pony up and buy it or work for it ingame.

Stop being a wuss

as opposed to what I said? If so, I'm sorry but I have to chuckle.

More at length from me on this later, but while he was childish, he didn't drop the "you're with me or you're against me" ultimatum. I'm all about wiggle room.

Joe:

thal001:

If someone says this doesn't bother their gameplay either directly or indirectly then they're either a farmer or a buyer. I see no inbetween.

It's rhetoric like that why I can't take this side of the argument seriously.

One shouldn't let the rhetoric one person on a particular side uses prevent one from taking an argument seriously. Especially rhetoric elicited from a person in the context of a discussion with another person who can't see the distinction between 'jealousy' and 'a desire to see everyone play by a particular set of rules,' and who seems more interested in adding insults to the discussion than substance. That'll drive anyone to misspeak.

I guess you could say you were an 'incidental third party victim' of a "you're with me or you're against me" ultimatum and shouldn't take it as directed at you! :-D

(edited to add: there's a particular two word Latin phrase for when one dismisses an argument just because of the person making it, but every person I've ever seen use it on the internet has turned out to be a moron, so I'm not using it here because I don't want to be associated with those people. In case you were wondering)

Cheeze_Pavilion:
Right, but you missed section 5: Rules of Conduct, C: Rules Related to Game Play

--------
Game play is what World of Warcraft is all about, and Blizzard strictly enforces the rules that govern game play. Blizzard considers most conduct to be part of the Game, and not harassment...Nonetheless, certain acts go beyond what is "fair" and are considered serious violations of these Terms of Use. Those acts include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

2. Conduct prohibited by the EULA or these Terms of Use, including without limitation that conduct prohibited by Section 2(C); and
3. Anything that Blizzard considers contrary to the "essence" of the Program.
----------
To me, it seems pretty certain that Blizzard considers any violation of the EULA and ToU to be 'unfair' and "harrassment." This seems to be a pretty clear and express incorporation of violations of the ToU into a section that pretty clearly and expressly is meant to benefit the third-party players. I mean, that's a pretty weak argument: rules designed to protect game play are not designed to benefit the people playing the game?

I'm not sure where you are finding within the language of this clause a clear and express intent to benefit third party players. Clear and express intent has a distinct legal meaning, that the contract directly states it in unmistakable terms.

Look carefully at the language of the contract, "Blizzard strictly enforces the rules..." "Blizzard considers most conduct...," "Anything that Blizzard considers...." Blizzard, here, is retaining for itself and itself alone the causes of action created by the breach of this contract.

What Blizzard considers a violation of the EULA or ToU, or what Blizzard considers to be "unfair" or "harassment" is not an issue here. Here, Mr. Hernandez is suing over what he believes to be unfair or harassment. But the EULA or ToU does not vest within Mr. Hernandez the right to make that determination or the right to seek a legal remedy even if Blizzard made that determination. Again, because Mr. Hernandez is not a party or third party beneficiary to the contract, he cannot sue under it.

If Blizzard had intended to create a third party beneficiary relationship between and among its players that agree to the EULA and ToU, Blizzard would have put language into the contract that explicitly creates rights and duties between players. I'm sure you realize by now, that such a contract would invite litigation that is not in Blizzard's best interest to create. If gold-farmers and IGE can be sued for the breach of this contract, any guild who violates the EULA or ToU can be sued as well. I am not going to take the time to research the law on this specific issue, but I would imagine such a contract would be void to begin with because it would expose the player to possible suit from hundreds of thousands of other players should he decide to breach that contract.

Cheeze_Pavilion:
I mean, that's a pretty weak argument: rules designed to protect game play are not designed to benefit the people playing the game?

Here you are confusing the purpose of the rules of the game with the purpose of the contract. The rules of the game are arguably created to benefit the players, granted. The purpose of the contract however is to protect the legal interests of Blizzard so that they may run the game in a manner they see fit.

Blizzard arguably creates this confusion by introducing its game rules into its contract, but a careful reading of the contract shows what Blizzard's intent is here. Blizzard is essentially saying, "If you do A, B or C, I may terminate your account, and you can't sue me for breach of contract, because by doing A, B, or C you have already breached the contract."

The purpose of the prohibitions against A, B, or C are irrelevant in this context, because it is the purpose of the contract that must be interpreted. Furthermore, even by the wildest stretch of the imagination, this cannot be considered clear and express intent. Divining the purpose behind prohibitions that are included as breaches is conjecture at best, no matter how certain we are of the purpose behind the prohibitions.

While that may seem to be semantics to a non-lawyer, it is a distinction that will keep the complaints of environmental harm, such as those made by Kesash and others, out of this suit, because they are irrelevant to the legal issues involved. I sympathize with your frustration regarding people you believe to be ruining the game, but this suit won't provide you with a remedy to that frustration.

CaelanPaige:

Cheeze_Pavilion:
I mean, that's a pretty weak argument: rules designed to protect game play are not designed to benefit the people playing the game?

Here you are confusing the purpose of the rules of the game with the purpose of the contract. The rules of the game are arguably created to benefit the players, granted. The purpose of the contract however is to protect the legal interests of Blizzard so that they may run the game in a manner they see fit.

The rules of the game were clearly and expressly incorporated into the contract in section 5: Rules of Conduct, C: Rules Related to Game Play.

CaelanPaige:
Blizzard arguably creates this confusion by introducing its game rules into its contract, but a careful reading of the contract shows what Blizzard's intent is here.

Well, first, I'm sorry, but, that's not how contracts work. The intent of the party who wrote the contract is only one piece of the puzzle. Remember, Mr. Hernandez's intent is just as important, and he thinks the section that incorporated section 5: Rules of Conduct, C: Rules Related to Game Play also incorporated the purpose of the rules. Working on the assumption that Mr. Hernandez is unsophisticated when it comes to legal matters, this was a 'take it or leave it' contract, and Blizzard is a corporation, Mr. Hernandez's intent is a very important part of determining what the terms of this contract mean: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_form_contract

Second, the Terms of Use state "[n]onetheless, certain acts go beyond what is "fair" and are considered serious violations of these Terms of Use." If "fair" play isn't intended to benefit one's fellow players, then, who is it intended to benefit? "Fair" play isn't just clearly and expressly *intended* by the contract, it's clearly and expressly *stated* in the terms of the contract. I really can't see a court coming to the conclusion that running a fair game was never intended to benefit the players of a game.

Sorry, but that logic is like saying that because only referees can call a penalty in a sport, a foul is only intended to benefit the referee and the league, and not the players. I looked around for some law on that but couldn't find any. Maybe you have--if so, you should share: I think that's the best analogy in this situation. Maybe even better than the whole 'pooping in moonwells' thing. :-D

Third, I think you keep forgetting that Blizzard has already made it clear by its statements in the past that the actions of IGE are violations. Therefore, if you look at the ToU, Blizzard only reserved the right to "determine which conduct it considers to be outside the spirit of the Game and to take such disciplinary measures as it sees fit up to and including termination and deletion of the Account." Nowhere in the contract do they state they have the "Absolute Right" to take any action beyond--"up to"--deleting the account.

I think you got confused between suing someone for real damages on a point Blizzard has endorsed, and demanding Blizzard take in-game diciplinary action themselves on an issue Blizzard is contesting.

CaelanPaige:
The purpose of the prohibitions against A, B, or C are irrelevant in this context, because it is the purpose of the contract that must be interpreted. Furthermore, even by the wildest stretch of the imagination, this cannot be considered clear and express intent. Divining the purpose behind prohibitions that are included as breaches is conjecture at best, no matter how certain we are of the purpose behind the prohibitions.

While that may seem to be semantics to a non-lawyer...

No, it seems more like the argument of IGE's lawyer to the court. :-) I mean, nowhere in that analysis do you take into consideration Mr. Hernandez's intent or his understanding of the contract, which strikes me as odd if this is supposed to be a balanced opinion.

CaelanPaige:
I sympathize with your frustration regarding people you believe to be ruining the game, but this suit won't provide you with a remedy to that frustration.

I...actually don't have any frustrations because I don't play the game. I'm also wondering why you are so certain this suit won't provide any remedy when before you said: "[d]epending on how the Florida statutes are interpreted, the unfair trade practices may be the only claim that Mr. Hernandez can continue under, unfortunately, without more specific allegations, I'm not sure it's possible to analyze his arguments under those statutes."

I mean, that's the first theory listed in the complaint. The third one is Tortuous Interference with a Contract. Third Party Beneficiary is only the second theory of three, so, like I asked before: even if you are 100% convinced that the second theory won't work, why are you so confident this suit will fail when there are two other theories he could recover under, neither of which seem to require him to have any contractual relationship to IGE?

I think maybe you're confusing a tort or a statutory cause of action with a breach of contract. Remember, all Mr. Hernandez has to prove about the contract under the third theory is that IGE unjustifiably interfered with that business relationship. And the whole contract issue isn't even of central importance to the theory of this being an unfair trade practice.

So...in light of the fact that even if you're 100% right and I'm 100% wrong about the Third Party Beneficiary theory, I guess I'm just wondering why you're so confident this suit will fail when there's another theory you haven't even addressed, and a theory--the one that appears to be the one they are counting on-- that you admit not to know enough about to give an opinion on it?

den010:
*reels in the catch*

I smell a troll... Forum Troll. (or a IGE Farmboi)

I can see this turning into an argument over game design moreso than over my rights as a paying subscriber. If I'm not mistaken, Blizzard has just as much culpability in this as do the players who agree to the EULA. The game design itself should be carefully examined here, as the often referred to term of "emergent gameplay' come into mind. Playing the game as intended quickly turns into shades of gray when this is taken into consideration. In many parts of the world RMT is seen as an emergent type of gameplay which is embraced and adopted by player cultures of other countries. If the game design allows for such activity to take place, then I can see how the argument can be made that Blizzard should be responsible for changing those elements to fall in line with the good faith principles of the binding provisions of the EULA and TOS.

I play WoW exclusively, and enjoy the game to the point of having over 200 hours on my main character, and I hate the farmers as much as the next player. But if I quit the game over the farmers and botters ruining my playing experience, am I quitting because IGE has somehow facilitated this? Or, am I quitting because Blizzard hasnt made enough changes in the game to prevent these activities from being possible? Either way, the game design is as important to my enjoyment of the game as it is to the next player, regardless of the EULA and TOS language.

Tenebris:
I can see this turning into an argument over game design moreso than over my rights as a paying subscriber. If I'm not mistaken, Blizzard has just as much culpability in this as do the players who agree to the EULA. The game design itself should be carefully examined here, as the often referred to term of "emergent gameplay' come into mind. Playing the game as intended quickly turns into shades of gray when this is taken into consideration. In many parts of the world RMT is seen as an emergent type of gameplay which is embraced and adopted by player cultures of other countries. If the game design allows for such activity to take place, then I can see how the argument can be made that Blizzard should be responsible for changing those elements to fall in line with the good faith principles of the binding provisions of the EULA and TOS.

I play WoW exclusively, and enjoy the game to the point of having over 200 hours on my main character, and I hate the farmers as much as the next player. But if I quit the game over the farmers and botters ruining my playing experience, am I quitting because IGE has somehow facilitated this? Or, am I quitting because Blizzard hasnt made enough changes in the game to prevent these activities from being possible? Either way, the game design is as important to my enjoyment of the game as it is to the next player, regardless of the EULA and TOS language.

Your version of enjoyment of the game may not be mine or the next players. Some folks love to PvP, some don't. Some folks are Raid Rats, others solo. But what Blizzard has not intended with their game is for it to be used as a cash cow for a third party (I know I'd want to keep as much money as I could in-house).

I know of players having their accounts banned for using Power Leveling services. What cracks me up is that there are people who throw away their (or Mommy's) money only to have their accounts banned and no recourse against the levelers who skip away with a fat wad of cash in their pockets.

EBay and several other online auction sites stopped the buying and selling of MMORPG accounts recently because of so many problems with them.

It's a problem of Gold Farmers, Power Levelers, and "Veruca Salts" exploiting a game for their own greed and egos and disrupting the game play of "regular" players. It's high time that Blizzard (and other MMORPG game companies) finally did something about it. The problem should have been squashed before it ballooned into this monstrosity. This IGE lawsuit should have happened a LONG time ago, with all the major MMORPG companies that IGE syphons Gold/ISK/Credits from and resells for real world cash (are they paying taxes?!?), joining together and slamming these scumbags and putting them out of business. But that would require a miracle like the Palestinians and the Israelis making peace.

Kesash:

Your version of enjoyment of the game may not be mine or the next players. Some folks love to PvP, some don't. Some folks are Raid Rats, others solo. But what Blizzard has not intended with their game is for it to be used as a cash cow for a third party (I know I'd want to keep as much money as I could in-house).

Intended or not, bad game design is just that. Blizzard may not have designed WoW to allow for a 3rd party to make money off of their IP, but the fact that the design does in fact allow it places a good portion of the culpability on them as developers of the game. The lawsuit in question is targeting the 3rd party(IGE) as the offending party based purely on the perception that his enjoyment of the game is lessened due to their activities.

But as I stated above, RMT is widely embraced and adopted by gamer cultures around the globe. WoW is a global game, so the morality of a precedent set in the US will do little to change this perception elsewhere. WoW is not the game to use for this type of legal case in my opinion due to it's design, and these localization and cultural differences. Gamers should really take a step back and ask themselves if they want to deal with the fallout of a decision in IGE's favor in this case.

Cheeze_Pavilion:
Well, first, I'm sorry, but, that's not how contracts work. The intent of the party who wrote the contract is only one piece of the puzzle. Remember, Mr. Hernandez's intent is just as important, and he thinks the section that incorporated section 5: Rules of Conduct, C: Rules Related to Game Play also incorporated the purpose of the rules. Working on the assumption that Mr. Hernandez is unsophisticated when it comes to legal matters, this was a 'take it or leave it' contract, and Blizzard is a corporation, Mr. Hernandez's intent is a very important part of determining what the terms of this contract mean: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_form_contract

The intention of both parties entering into a contract is important, granted. However, Mr. Hernandez's intent is not important, because he is not a party entering into the contract that he is suing under. (or alternatively, the people he is suing were not parties to the contract that he agreed to).

The contract (K1: H & B) that Mr. Hernandez and Blizzard agreed to are between themselves, and if Mr. Hernandez believes there is a breach of that contract, his only recourse is against Blizzard. The contract (K2: GF & B) between the gold farmers and Blizzard only creates causes of action between the gold farmers and Blizzard (and IGE, because IGE was conspiring with the gold farmers to breach the contract). Because the Gold farmers were not a party to Mr. Hernandez's contract (K1), and because IGE was not conspiring with Blizzard to breach Mr. Hernandez's contract, Mr. Hernandez has no standing to sue IGE or the gold farmers under the contract he agreed to with Blizzard. Furthermore, because Mr. Hernandez was not a party (or third party beneficiary) to K2, he has no standing to sue under it either.

Cheeze_Pavilion:
Second, the Terms of Use state "[n]onetheless, certain acts go beyond what is "fair" and are considered serious violations of these Terms of Use." If "fair" play isn't intended to benefit one's fellow players, then, who is it intended to benefit? "Fair" play isn't just clearly and expressly *intended* by the contract, it's clearly and expressly *stated* in the terms of the contract. I really can't see a court coming to the conclusion that running a fair game was never intended to benefit the players of a game.

Here you are misunderstanding the law regarding third party beneficiaries, I think. The relationship between player who is agreeing to the contract and the third party beneficiary must be clear and expressly stated. The fact that certain actions are considered unfair or violations, and that the purpose of having actions considered unfair or a violation is to benefit third parties is an inference. An inference can never be a clear and express statement. Inferences only create incidental third party beneficiaries, who have no standing to sue for breach. If Blizzard wanted to create an intended third party beneficiary, language similar to this would appear in the contract: "Customer agrees to assume a duty to create a fair playing atmosphere for other customers by not violating the Terms of Use. A violation of this duty will create a cause of action in breach of this contract against the customer by Blizzard or other customers." That is a clear and express statement that creates an intended third party beneficiary relationship between customers. Only language which is unmistakable can create an intended third party beneficiary. The burden is on Mr. Hernandez to establish that the contract clearly and expressly states that he is a third party beneficiary, and that burden is extremely high.

Cheeze_Pavilion:
Sorry, but that logic is like saying that because only referees can call a penalty in a sport, a foul is only intended to benefit the referee and the league, and not the players. I looked around for some law on that but couldn't find any. Maybe you have--if so, you should share: I think that's the best analogy in this situation. Maybe even better than the whole 'pooping in moonwells' thing. :-D

I also like this analogy, but we are going to need to change your hypothetical somewhat to create a set of facts similar to this case. If Major League Baseball has a contract with each baseball player that states, "We may terminate your employment contract if you test positive for human growth hormone." Barry Bonds tests positive for human growth hormone, but Major League Baseball decides not to terminate Mr. Bonds. Alex Rodriguez, who also signed an identical contract with Major League Baseball sues Mr. Bonds for breach of third party beneficiary.

To analyze whether this is a breach of a third party beneficiary relationship between Mr. Bonds and Mr. Rodriguez, we need to establish that such a relationship exists. Here, because the contract does not state that Mr. Bonds has a duty to his fellow players to play fairly by not using human growth hormone, it is not clearly and expressly stated that a third party beneficiary relationship exists between Mr. Bonds and Mr. Rodriguez. Furthermore, it is under Major League Baseball's discretion to terminate, or not to terminate Mr. Bonds’ employment. "MLB *may* terminate..." The purpose of the prohibition against human growth hormone is arguably to benefit fellow players by creating a fair game, but it is also arguable that the purpose of the prohibition clause in this contract is to protect the public integrity of Major League Baseball, or to create a cause for termination that cannot be challenged. Because it is not unmistakable that this language creates a third party beneficiary relationship between Mr. Bonds and Mr. Rodriguez, Mr. Rodriguez does not have standing to sue here for a breach of a third party beneficiary relationship.

This is essentially the same claim that Mr. Hernandez is making (although, in the hypo above, Mr. Rodriguez would also be suing Balco or other conspiracy to provide Mr. Bonds with HGH, but that is only relevant for the claims in Tort).

Cheeze_Pavilion:
I think maybe you're confusing a tort or a statutory cause of action with a breach of contract. Remember, all Mr. Hernandez has to prove about the contract under the third theory is that IGE unjustifiably interfered with that business relationship. And the whole contract issue isn't even of central importance to the theory of this being an unfair trade practice.

The reason I haven’t focused as much on the claims in tort is because there is not enough information in the complaint to do a full legal analysis on those claims. While, for the claims in contract, we have all the information we need to resolve the issue. It will take some bit of speculation to analyze the claims in tort, and will necessarily have less predictive value.

As I have stated before, I don't think Mr. Hernandez can demonstrate a valid injury in fact because he continues to play, and arguably enjoy the game (to the entertainment value of 15 dollars a month) despite the actions of IGE. Remember, we do not even need to get to the merits of the case if the plaintiff fails to have standing.

Let's look at the tortuous interference claim, because we probably know enough about these circumstances to do a little better analysis on that than the Unfair Trade actions.
To state a cause of action for tortuous interference with a business relationship, the aggrieved party must show: (1) the existence of a business relationship with another; (2) the defendant's knowledge of that relationship; (3) an intentional and unjustified interference with the relationship by the defendant; and (4) that the aggrieved party was damaged as a result of the defendant's interference. Marquez v. PanAmerican Bank, 943 So.2d 284 (Fla. App. 2006).

I think we can agree that a business relationship existed between Mr. Hernandez and Blizzard, and just for the sake of argument, let's assume that the defendant's knowledge of other subscribers satisfies the knowledge of the relationship element.
The elements that are at issue here is whether IGE and the gold farmers actions constituted an intentional and unjustified interference with that relationship, and whether Mr. Hernandez can show damage as a result. The complaint alleges that element three was violated because the defendants sold gold in violation of the EULA and ToU. The complaint also alleges that the damages caused were the loss of the fees paid to Blizzard in satisfaction of element four.

(3) Intentional and Unjustified interference

A cause of action for tortuous interference requires a showing of both an intent to damage the business relationship and a lack of justification to take the action which caused the damage. Networkip, LLC v. Spread Enterprises, Inc., 922 So.2d 355 (Fla. App. 2006)
The complaint does not allege that IGE intended to damage the business relationship of Mr. Hernandez, only that IGE intended to breach the contract its gold farmers had agreed to with Blizzard.

Imbedded within the elements of a tortuous interference claim is the requirement that the plaintiff establish that the defendant's conduct caused or induced the breach that resulted in the plaintiff's damages. Chicago Title Ins. Co. v. Alday-Donalson Title Co. of Florida, Inc., 832 So.2d 810 (Fla. App. 2002).

Here, like the plaintiffs in Chicago Title, Mr. Hernandez does not claim that the breach in K2 caused by the gold farmers resulted in a breach of K1.

Though a showing of malice or ill will is necessary, there is no requirement that the interference was intended to secure a business advantage over the plaintiff. The supreme court concluded there is "no logical reason why one who damages another in his business relationships should escape liability because his motive is malice rather than greed." The interference however must be both direct and intentional. Rockledge Mall Associates, Ltd. v. Custom Fences of South Brevard, Inc., 779 So.2d 554 (Fla.App. 2001).

Here, Mr. Hernandez is not alleging that the gold farmers or IGE had malice or ill will towards other customers, only that they intended to secure competitive advantages in the game for certain customers by breaching K2. Their main motivation was profit, and it could be argued that IGE had no malice or ill will whatsoever against the plaintiff. Also, it is difficult to establish that IGE's actions directly resulted in Mr. Hernandez's harm. Mr. Hernandez is claiming that he lost the value of his fees because he was at a competitive disadvantage in the game, but that competitive disadvantage was not the direct result IGE's activities, it was, arguably, however, an indirect result of IGE's activities.

Well... I'm sure you get the idea. Mr. Hernandez's tortuous interference claim is probably going to fail on element three, and will probably fail on element four as well. Assuming, of course that he has standing to sue in the first place, which is questionable because it will be very difficult for him to prove an injury in fact.

And, since my editorial, "On Behalf of the Chair Kickers," has its comments getting piped into this discussion, here's an excerpt!

It's just not feasible to achieve hardcore gamers' goals in WoW without repetitive gaming, to the point that if you identify as a hardcore gamer, you're probably a farmer, too. I'm sure Molten Core is a great instance, but after the 30th run, that glazed expression you're wearing is very familiar to an RMT farmer's an hour before quitting time. And that, I think, is why the people who take their time to become part of a gaming community are so vocal about farming. They run into farmers more than casual players because they're trying to farm, too, only they call it "grinding," a simple change in nomenclature that's enough to create a gaming Red Scare.

Joe:
And, since my editorial, "On Behalf of the Chair Kickers," has its comments getting piped into this discussion, here's an excerpt!

I agree with some of what you have to say. I think the *last* thing people should be looking for in an MMO--and even in the real world--is a meritocracy. People confuse the goal of 'fairness' with the tool of 'meritocracy', and we probably feel the same way about people who think the fact that they spent enough time on a game to achieve some level makes them a better person. One of the reasons I've never gotten involved in an MMO is precisely because it all looks like more a grind than a game. Also, I personally don't think there's much wrong, if anything at all, with someone who enjoys a game making some money on the side selling stuff on their own like you did.

However, I think the problem with your argument is that you're not really hearing the argument from the other side, and you're glossing over some major issues to support your own. You're simplifying the issues in order to make your point look more convincing. Like you said:

But IGE are the bad guys because they dare to look at a bottom line other than who's more "1337"; they embrace that age-old notion that time is money, no matter how much people try to convince themselves otherwise.

There are plenty of areas where it is illegal to equate time with money that have nothing to do with MMOs. The most salient example I can think of is that the only difference between a grass roots political effort in support of a candidate and a ward heeler for a corrupt political machine is that the latter 'dares to look at a bottom line' other than abstract political goals. The honest candidate does just as much 'grinding' on the election trail making promises of a better tomorrow as the corrupt one does promising favors in return for votes. They've both 'farmed' for votes, "whether or not they were trying to monetize their time."

You're suggesting that it's always fine to monetize one's time, to turn a profit off of the length of time one has expended effort. The problem is, applying that logic to politics means that politicians should be able to monetize *their* time spent getting elected. And that's the heart of this case, and it's what you're glossing over here.

The people that signed up agreed not to monetize their time. They were promised a game where others would not either. What you're saying is they shouldn't have the right to restrict people--even though IGE is perfectly welcome to create its own MMO where it sells gold--in that way because "time equals money" and a person should always be allowed to look at the bottom line. Well, like I said, that logic leads to the conclusion that politicians should be able to sell their vote, because they acquired that office by grinding for votes.

Sure politicians make promises that look like payoffs: 'elect me and I'll build the special project you need and not the one your neighbor needs'. However, those special projects--even if they're pure pork--still have some *public* purpose. Just like the member of a guild has a *game* purpose. If we apply the logic that you're suggesting, that there's no difference between purposes if the means are the same, then we wind up in a situation where we can't say there's difference between building a public swimming pool in the neighborhood that voted for me, and building pools in the backyards of my ward heelers so they can invite over the people who voted for me.

Also, your editorial fails to take notice of a critical difference between "the naked Rogue killing his quest monsters and the guy in Tier 3 epic loot doing the same thing." I agree that "[t]o the casual gamer, the one who pays just as much as the hardcore instance-runner, there's little difference" but wouldn't you say there's a difference between a finite number of 'guys in Tier 3 epic loot' and as many 'naked Rogues' as can be profitably operated?

What your editorial fails to recognize is that Blizzard can design around the guy grinding the game because he's a loser in life and needs epic loot to compensate for his lack of manhood--or however we want to vilify those people--while it can't design around IGE. There are only so many of those epic loot guys, and they're probably all on WoW--since day one. The 'demand' from that market is inelastic. Stuff could drop .0000001 percent and they'd probably be putting just as much time. So, Blizzard can just expand the game world, create shards, etc. so that those people have enough to keep them occupied and there's enough left over for casual players.

Don't you see how radically different that is from IGE? There are an infinite number of potential gold farmers *precisely* because time is monetized. And you can always find as many people as you need as long as you offer them enough money What we've learned from everything from the trade in narcotics to alcohol to prostitution is that when there's a buyer, there *will* be a seller. So I think your argument from the 'dweebs are just as bad as IGE' standpoint is fatally flawed because it fails to recognize a basic fact about the world: there is a limited market for just about everything in this world but making money. If there is money to be made, there will be gold farmers or drug mules or prostitutes or rum runners or whatever as long as there's a profit.

Which dove tails well with another issue I have with your editorial: you equate your own experiences in profiting off a game with IGE. To me, nothing could be more different. Your editorial ignores the difference in effect between individuals selling their own handicrafts that are the byproduct of an activity they enjoy, and industrial, corporate efforts to create a market and profit from it. I think the difference should be clear just from that description.

Finally, there's a huge, gaping hole in your article. The one where you compare the casual-to-moderate gamer to IGE. You compared the hardcore gamer, but, that's the easy target for you. You never take up the arguments of gamers who want a good time in an interesting game because they're playing for fun and not to compensate for being a loser in life or whatever.

If you read the ToU for WoW, you'll see that people who try and turn the game into a lot of things besides money are prohibited. I can't use WoW to get out my racism and call people of various ethnicities by different slurs, yet I could hardcore roleplay and probably call someone a 'foul, dark creature from the abyss who has no place in my world' if I'm Dwarven and they're Undead with no problem. In fact, I can advertise my guild, but I can't advertise my start-up company. If you think it's okay to monetize one's time by selling WoW gold, doesn't that mean you should be able to use that time online promoting a commodities company that invests in gold?

Your suggestion that people shouldn't be allowed to play in an MMO without gold farming because time should always be exchangeable for money and hardcore players steal kills just like loot farmers is like saying people shouldn't be allowed to play non-player killer MMOs because hardcore players steal kills on non-PK MMOs, and hey--what's the difference between the time and money lost reviving a dead character, and the time and money lost when a hardcore player camps you out of a drop?

I guess if I had to boil down my objections to your editorial, it would be that you've taken the easiest examples to illustrate the argument, and not followed the premise behind your argument--that time should always be exchangeable with money--to its logical conclusions. I think that's why it seems so clear to you: as long as that piece was and as much effort as I'm sure you put into it, you still haven't really grappled with the tough issues.

Echolocating:
I don't know. The whole thing smells of pocket protectors and zit cream.

Cheeze_Pavilion:
I don't know, that's kinda weird logic to me. It's not nerdy to play the game, but it is nerdy to sue someone who has no interest in the game except to make a profit off it while disrupting the gameplay experience?

The rules of the nerd are clear. You may partake of nerd customs as long as you keep the nerd behavior within the nerd kingdom.

Cheeze_Pavilion:
In that case, isn't it nerdy to argue over something that's nerdy? On the internet no less? ;-)

The Escapist falls within nerd boundaries. Did you not get a rulebook explaining all this when you became a nerd, Cheeze? I'll lend you one of mine. Chapter 7 has an interesting read on different levels of nerd; yes, it's possible to be too nerdy... even for nerds.

-----

If this thing even gets to trial, we'll see who's right and who's wrong on this issue. ;-)

CaelanPaige:
The contract (K2: GF & B) between the gold farmers and Blizzard only creates causes of action between the gold farmers and Blizzard (and IGE, because IGE was conspiring with the gold farmers to breach the contract).

Actually, this leads to an interesting question: if I enter into a contract with no intent of upholding my end--like gold farmers who intended to sell to IGE from the beginning--was there a contract in the first place? Yeah, now that I think about it, this is a pretty complex issue: if I'm the third-party beneficiary of a contract that was the product of fraud, what are my rights against the defrauding party?

CaelanPaige:
The fact that certain actions are considered unfair or violations, and that the purpose of having actions considered unfair or a violation is to benefit third parties is an inference.

Well, that's your opinion, that that language only creates an inference. Mine is that it is clear and express. I guess someday we might find out if this goes to trial. I agree that the example of a third party beneficiary contract is *sufficient* I'm just not convinced it's *necessary*.

CaelanPaige:

This is essentially the same claim that Mr. Hernandez is making (although, in the hypo above, Mr. Rodriguez would also be suing Balco or other conspiracy to provide Mr. Bonds with HGH, but that is only relevant for the claims in Tort).

Mmm, not exactly. Remember, those companies get their drugs from places other than MLB. IGE has to reach into WoW to get that gold and sell it. I think that's a big difference.

Not to mention, if this is a jury trial and IGE's lawyer starts comparing gold farmers to Barry Bonds and IGE to Balco, wel, umm, in the immortal words of Hudson: "That's it man, game over man, game over!"

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