Turbine Faces Patent Troll

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Just another example of patent law used in a way it was never intended to be. Dovetails nicely with an article in the New York Times this week I heard about on the radio last night about patents being used as weapons instead of their intentional purpose (keeping innovation moving). I really think it is a shame that this sort of patent can even be granted; it really undermines the whole idea of keeping things going. Unfortunately I can't see it changing at all.

For anyone who's interested, the article in the NYT is at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/08/technology/patent-wars-among-tech-giants-can-stifle-competition.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Turbine: You want me to pay your ransom, well here it is.

image

And this is as close as you'll ever get to it.

Drop the case now, Or I swear I will use all of this... ALL OF IT to destroy you. I'll hire the best lawyers in the business and sue you for everything.

You still have a chance to do the right thing.

(or at least that's what I think they should do).

Agayek:
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.

Yeah, offensive probably is the best way to put it. The entire patent system in the US is a joke and needs to be redone. The fact that someone can patent an idea around the implementation of software is laughable. It makes me glad that, here in Canada at least, software can't be patented, only copyrighted, leaving other people free to reach the same outcome in a different way.

Ah yes the lawsuit troll companies, sadly it is now more lucrative to buy up patents and sue everyone then it is to actually make something of your own.

Nuke them from orbit, only way to be sure.

I read this as a company patenting the troll image. I am disapoint

Anyone remember when Turbine won March Madness and then chaos went to on the Escapist forums? No? I like those new posters.

deth2munkies:
This'll get thrown out, but it'll cost Turbine more than it's worth to do it.

That's exactly why patent trolls exist.

Seriously, fuck patent law atm... it's just pointless money being thrown at lawyers who don't even deserve jobs.

I have no idea how we can even improve them but some of them just seem ridiculous by the standards of today's technology advancements and complexity.

I think there area a few things missing from the article. I would give the benefit of the doubt at least until more is known.

First off when was the request for patent filed?
From reading other users comments it seems like Treehouse is a relatively new company but it is possible one of its employees has been waiting on this patent for a while?
Do we know if any individual who currently works at Treehouse was an employee of Turbine during their alpha or pre-alpha phases?

These would be important things to know before just declaring them trolls. That being said if its just a bunch of jackasses who are looking for a fast buck by inventing patents after the idea has been used for 7 years then they should be expunged from the system.

In the light of Apple being able to patent "A Box-shaped object with a screen and a button"
(more or less exact wording) this seems totally legit so long as it stays within the U.S.

GonvilleBromhead:
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...

I like it, and you have my support, may you gain much profit.

Lectori Salutem:

no less than a reasonable royalty

A slap in the face seems reasonable. No less.

It would be so funny if the court awarded them this. Especially because they demanded triple whatever the reasonable royalty is.

deth2munkies:
This'll get thrown out, but it'll cost Turbine more than it's worth to do it.

It gets expensive to fight them.

This is a TED talks with Drew Curtis about how his company spent 2 million dollars fighting a Patent Troll, and won. The outcome was 18 months of his life, and 2 millon dollars gone to lawyers. http://www.ted.com/talks/drew_curtis_how_i_beat_a_patent_troll.html

Patent trolls cause more damage to the US economy that every terrorist group in the world has done.

Random Argument Man:
Anyone remember when Turbine won March Madness and then chaos went to on the Escapist forums? No? I like those new posters.

I remember that, and I just stopped caring, because it's not good to get worked up over something so old.

devilmore:

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.

"This Just In: The System Works As Intended."

The least exciting headline ever written.

TechNoFear:
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.

Turbine might be a mid-sized game company, but it's got Warner Bros. as its parent company. I'm sure they could bring the pain if they wanted to. Or they could go all out and call on TimeWarner to grind the patent troll to dust...

rheianna:

TechNoFear:
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.

Turbine might be a mid-sized game company, but it's got Warner Bros. as its parent company. I'm sure they could bring the pain if they wanted to. Or they could go all out and call on TimeWarner to grind the patent troll to dust...

This, and some judges have been getting fed up with people who are gaming the IP laws like this. It may be worth the expense to Turbine and WB to crush these worms as an example to others. I guarantee that Turbine can maintain the expense of a court presence longer than this troll can. And while crushing them in court, get some investigators looking into the activities of the individuals in charge of the company. If they are pulling something this slimy, I can easily believe they have skeletons in the closet they don't want coming out.

NoPants2win:
Agayek, I wikied this just for you.

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

It's a wiki and thus invalid, please use an academic source. ;p

TechNoFear:
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.

Someone more knowledgeable then I can probably speak to this more intelligently, but the Supreme Court has established that in copyright lawsuits the winner can sue the loser for legal fees ( Fogerty v. Fantasy ) - does the same apply to patent infringement lawsuits? Sadly I have a feeling it doesn't, otherwise we wouldn't see so many patent trolls.

Andy Chalk:
Turbine Faces Patent Troll

image

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

Permalink

You should really update the OP with the point that this patent is a continuation of a patent originally filed in 2000.

Webb Myers:
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.

Nghtgnt:

Someone more knowledgeable then I can probably speak to this more intelligently, but the Supreme Court has established that in copyright lawsuits the winner can sue the loser for legal fees ( Fogerty v. Fantasy ) - does the same apply to patent infringement lawsuits? Sadly I have a feeling it doesn't, otherwise we wouldn't see so many patent trolls.

Not to my knowledge, but IANAL or American.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/31597/UKBased_RuneScape_Dev_Jagex_Wins_Patent_Infringement_Lawsuit.php

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20121008/18292220651/twitter-makes-case-that-trolls-should-have-to-pay-legal-fees-bogus-lawsuits.shtml

Well, the bulls**t just hit the fan.

Patents do more evil than good. & since I play both of these, I want to see Treehouse Avatar Technologies buried.

is this the moment where the judge gets up and starts beating people with chairs?

Akisa:

NoPants2win:
Agayek, I wikied this just for you.

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

It's a wiki and thus invalid, please use an academic source. ;p

Such as?

If wikipedia isn't a valid internet source then what is? I remind you that Wikipedia has proportionally less errors than Encyclopaedia Britannica.

It's encouraging that it's been filed in Delaware, not Texas. Delaware is extremely pro-business, but not as insanely one-sided as the Texas courts.

Wait, did someone mange to patent an online character creator? I'm pretty sure there were games made even before 2000 that did just that.

Also, nothing I can find about this says exactly HOW it is that turbine is infringing, or how the patent owners know that the infringing is happening. I'm no lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that just looking at the character creators in each game isn't proof enough of infringement, and that the patent owners would have to have violated Turbines own rights by breaking open the source code to look for infringement.

And as someone else said, Turbine should bring in the big guns from Warner Bros or even TimeWarner for this one.

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