Turbine Faces Patent Troll

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Turbine Faces Patent Troll

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Treehouse Avatar Technologies claims Dungeons & Dragons Online infringes upon a patent it was granted just five months ago.

Patent infringement lawsuits aren't always the most exciting of tales, but this one has a twist. Treehouse Avatar Technologies has filed a lawsuit against MMO studio Turbine Inc., alleging that Turbine's Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online infringe upon U.S. Patent No. 8,180,858, "Method and System For Presenting Data Over a Network Based On Network User Choices And Collecting Real-Time Data Related To Said Choices" and heretofore referred to as "the '858 patent," which it holds.

"Turbine's Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online tally the number of times selected character attribute(s) have been selected by a plurality of users," which violates at least one part of the Treehouse-held patent, according to the complaint. "Treehouse has been damaged by the infringement of Turbine and is suffering and will continue to suffer, irreparable harm and damage as a result of this infringement unless such infringement is enjoined by this Court."

But here's the twist: The patent was issued to Treehouse on May 15, 2012. That's about five months ago.

I readily admit that I can't even begin to grasp the many complexities of patent law, but Dungeons & Dragons Online has been running since 2006 and Lord of the Rings Online has been with us since 2007. Is it possible that a company can claim infringement on a patent that's only five months old by services that have been running for more than five years? Patent lawyers and those who play them on TV are welcome to chime in, but I'd be shocked if that turned out to be the case.

Treehouse is demanding a permanent injunction against Turbine, as well as damages "no less than a reasonable royalty, such damages to be trebled" pursuant to relevant legal provisions, plus costs, attorney's fees, interest and all the usual. And what a shame it will be if it gets any of it.

Source: Scribd, via GamePolitics

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This'll get thrown out, but it'll cost Turbine more than it's worth to do it.

can't we perhaps just have a public vote and create a patent marshal who goes round shooting pricks like this in the name of justice ?

the US system handing out thousands of ill observed patents like this to trolls who harm innocent companies has to stop....especially when the US courts think they apply internationally...something is DEEPLY WRONG with a system that lets this kinda crap make someone rich.

This is a clear example of why the Patent System needs a reboot

no less than a reasonable royalty

A slap in the face seems reasonable. No less.

Is it possible that a company can claim infringement on a patent that's only five months old by services that have been running for more than five years?

No, it isn't. Nothing to worry about.

Oh... I though tthis was a story about that stupid fucking cunt that keeps claiming every fucking electronics manufacture and whoever else is violating a patents claim that he holds...

I guess this is a plesant surprise than...

Another idiot who wants to rake some cash in because s/he's too damn lazy to make something of his life.

Much more profitable to steal from others right? pffffff

And to think the patent office gives those people a green card on this... Gah.

I wonder if I can patent "a system by which money is extracted through the abuse of international intellectual property legislation through patenting theoretical technologies and concepts that are bound to be developed via the endeavour of someone else".

Bound to be a fortune in patent trolling patent trolls...

Filing date was 2010, but it's a continuation of a continuation of a patent filed in 2000 (US6952716) that has a lot of generic language that could apply to any online RPG. It might be invalid. It might not. So basically, it's going to cost a lot of lawyer time.

Aren't you grandfathered in if you used something before it was patented?

Anywho, I feel like Turbine should give them all the money they earned exclusively from that system, which is nothing since they make money on their game not on one supporting feature of their game. Either that or give them a cut of the profits they earn from the sell of the game, which is likely also nothing if they have monthly subscription fees instead.

How dare Dungeons and Dragons online infringe upon your patent from four and a half years in the past!! They should be sued for every penny they have. Not being able to see into the future? That's no excuse!

More likely than not, I suspect the patent itself will be invalidated as the system it protects is supposed to be novel and unique in the field. Seeing as the infraction exists longer than the patent itself, that will be a difficult argument to brake.

Alternatively, ex-post-facto may apply and immunize the publishers from suit.

Yeah, good luck with that. I see pointless and wasteful litigation in your future.

You know. For once I would love to see a company go... "Fuck it. We are CRUSHING this guy. We don't care that it is going to cost us 5 times more than just settling we are going to crush this person. We're going to send a message to all the other morons that want to try and pull one of these on us.

He will be so much in debt once this is through that even his corpse will be impounded after we are done with him."

You say trolls. I say Hutz.

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If the system has been around for longer than the company has held the patent, it SHOULD be thrown out as patenting prior art. In simplistic terms, a patent is only valid if you can prove that you were the first to develop the system, you couldn't for example, patent the wheel, because there are previous examples of that technology that exist, produced by other people, prior to your application for a patent.

Are there laws which make patent trolls have to pay excessive fines for trying to scam a legal system, like they are doing? Cause by god there should be...

Adam Jensen:

No, it isn't. Nothing to worry about.

You Are Not A Lawyer.

The filing date is the one that matters.

The main problem with the patent system is it was never designed with the sort of technology we have now in mind.

If you look at the patent it is essentially a patent on the idea of creating a game character with stats within an MMO (so there is server side stuff). There are no real specifics other than a character with attributes that is tracked by the network.

To put it into non-tech perspective it is essentially patenting the idea of baking a cake and then suing anyone that bakes anything because the process is similar.

While I think the patent would be deemed invalid, such a system that allows it in the first place is the reason you have patent trolls. The system is open to so much abuse it is not funny.

The main problem is that it is possible for people to patent a process and then challenge people that get the same result using a different process.

TLDR; patent law needs to be updated for the 21st century. It also needs to force patents to include more specifics rather than a vague idea.

Adam Jensen:

Is it possible that a company can claim infringement on a patent that's only five months old by services that have been running for more than five years?

No, it isn't. Nothing to worry about.

Technically, it's possible. It depends on the particulars of the patent and supposed infringement. If Turbine is using a specific way of gathering the information that the patent covers, and they didn't patent it themselves, it's definitely possible that it could be found as infringing.

It's one of the more ludicrous bits of current patent law.

Personally, I'd hope the judge has is sensible to rule logically rather than legally, but that's somewhat rare.

Agayek:

Adam Jensen:

Is it possible that a company can claim infringement on a patent that's only five months old by services that have been running for more than five years?

No, it isn't. Nothing to worry about.

Technically, it's possible. It depends on the particulars of the patent and supposed infringement. If Turbine is using a specific way of gathering the information that the patent covers, and they didn't patent it themselves, it's definitely possible that it could be found as infringing.

It's one of the more ludicrous bits of current patent law.

Personally, I'd hope the judge has is sensible to rule logically rather than legally, but that's somewhat rare.

~But the tech existed before the patent itself. These assholes are just claiming to have come up with it.

What if I went and patented the wheel? Or "a way to verbally communicate with others using words"? Yeah, lets see how you all like it when I sue you all for speaking.

GTwander:
~But the tech existed before the patent itself. These assholes are just claiming to have come up with it.

What if I went and patented the wheel? Or "a way to verbally communicate with others using words"? Yeah, lets see how you all like it when I sue you all for speaking.

If you did not file a patent for an invention, it doesn't matter when you created it. If someone else sees it and puts a patent in, they own the idea. Your examples here are unpatentable, but only because they've made special exceptions for things like that.

Patent law as-is is completely retarded, you'll never see me defend it, but it is what it is.

Edit: To make it more clear, when it comes to patent law, all that matters is the patent filing date. If you didn't file a patent for an idea, it doesn't matter how long you've been using it or what you've been using it for, you do not own the idea. Personally, I find the whole thing rather... offensive, but that's how it is.

Agayek, I wikied this just for you.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prior_art

I doubt that will go anywhere.
Still funny.

Anyway the patent laws in most places seem to be not sufficiently adapted to our digital age.
One reason why I'm going to vote for the Pirates (again).

Ishigami:
I doubt that will go anywhere.
Still funny.

Anyway the patent laws in most places seem to be not sufficiently adapted to our digital age.
One reason why I'm going to vote for the Pirates (again).

The current system isn't sufficiently adapted for any age. When Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin, he couldn't (and didn't) just say "a machine which will separate cotton threads from seeds by turning a crank", he actually designed a machine to do it. The standards have slipped quite a bit since then.

Patent laws really need a reboot.

They should make is so that whatever idea one conceive, one has to be currently utilizing it or in the case of a product build it at least 50% before it is patentable.

Or whoever finish the product first gets the patent.

From the way it is worded.. it sounds like they've tried to patent putting bar-graphs on the internet.

I'm gonna patent "A Medium for Broadcasting Inane Comments on a Digital Display Device" and sue every single website ever made.

Agayek:

GTwander:
~But the tech existed before the patent itself. These assholes are just claiming to have come up with it.

What if I went and patented the wheel? Or "a way to verbally communicate with others using words"? Yeah, lets see how you all like it when I sue you all for speaking.

If you did not file a patent for an invention, it doesn't matter when you created it. If someone else sees it and puts a patent in, they own the idea. Your examples here are unpatentable, but only because they've made special exceptions for things like that.

Patent law as-is is completely retarded, you'll never see me defend it, but it is what it is.

Edit: To make it more clear, when it comes to patent law, all that matters is the patent filing date. If you didn't file a patent for an idea, it doesn't matter how long you've been using it or what you've been using it for, you do not own the idea. Personally, I find the whole thing rather... offensive, but that's how it is.

That'S not entriely true. Trubine can just file their own game as prior art and the patent will be dismissed. Unless Treehouse Whatevertroll argues that it's not prior art in which case Turbine still won't have to pay since Treehouse will have to drop the charges since they just argued their patent is about something else entirely.

The patent system is stupid but not as stupid as most make it out to be. The problem is that most sites always write news about new ludicrous lawsuits but never about how those fail or are dismissed. Anyone can file a lawsuit agaoinst anybody about anything, that doesn't make the system wrong.

And Treehouse will have to pay for court costs if they lose. And they will los

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prior_art
There is a nice Stack Exchange in the wroks to allow people inline to submit Prior Art to current patent cases which will hopefully speed up the process.
Since in this case the Pior Art is the subject of the lawsuit it shouldn't be hard to find.

ExtraDebit:
Patent laws really need a reboot.

They should make is so that whatever idea one conceive, one has to be currently utilizing it or in the case of a product build it at least 50% before it is patentable.

Or whoever finish the product first gets the patent.

Not strictly fair, I'd say that they at least have to be able to provide proof that they're actively developing it. Someone may come up with an idea but lack the funds to immediately create it, which is where a patent can be used to protect them long enough to roll out a working whatever-it-is.

EDIT: Urgh, just re-read your post, somehow missed the bit about it being 50% complete!

Oh god I've just had an exam and part of it related to patents using the NOrM method. That is a patent has to be Novel, Original (non-obvious to a specialist), capable of Manufacture (or realized in a functional way). Considering this patent is 5 years after a company practiced this method it has already failed the original part, it has also been manufactured independent of the patent. and since a company has already achieved this it isn't novel. Now I admit this may be more to UK patenting and kind of a basic description, also as devilmore mentioned there is the prior art defense where they can ask how has the patent improved on the previous existing design.

Lectori Salutem:

no less than a reasonable royalty

A slap in the face seems reasonable. No less.

Thats a generous offer, but they should hold out for more.

...

(Slap in the face and kick to the wanger).

Can't see this going any further to be honest. That being said they will probably recieve some sort of compensation for being granted a patent which should never have been given in the first place.

A big problem is that Turbine's legal costs will not be covered, and usually can not be awarded by the court (so we are talking a loss in the millions, even if Turbine wins).

So it would probably be cheaper for Turbine to settle (buy a license), but that will give the patent validity.

The troll can then go after bigger targets, armed with Turbine's acceptance of the patent.

This is why the troll started with a 'mid-sized' game company, probably too small to be able to spend millions on the legal fight, but a big enough name to be helpful when the troll sues other companies.

I just did some Googling, I find it funny that Treehouse Avatar Technologies didn't even exist until late September 2011. And they don't even have a website of their own, no Twitter, not even a Facebook, does this company even exist as anything but a formality?

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