Wildcat Sues Magic Online Devs Over Decade-Old Patent

Wildcat Sues Magic Online Devs Over Decade-Old Patent

image

A company based in Texas has alleged that Magic: The Gathering Online infringes on its 'Electronic Trading Card' patent originally filed in 1995.

In a not uncommon, but nonetheless strange turn of events, Wildcat Intellectual Property Holdings is suing Wizards of the Coast for patent infringement for its game Magic: The Gathering Online. Wildcat is the holder of a patent for an "Electronic Trading Card," and has been since that patent was issued in 2001. The "ETC" patent was first filed in 1995. Wizards of the Coast, meanwhile, opened its Magic: The Gathering Online game in 2002, and has operated it blissfully unaware ever since. Wildcat then filed suit last year against a multitude of companies, alleging violations of its "Electronic Trading Card" patent. The defendants in that lawsuit included Wizards of the Coast, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, Sony, and Zynga - 11 high profile companies in total.

Given that M:tGO has been printing money for Wizards for going on ten years now, just about the same amount of time Wildcat has actually had this patent, it's hard not to question the legitimacy of the lawsuit. Even if the suit is legally sound, it's likely that Hasbro's lawyers, and Hasbro's billions of dollars, will have something to say about a threat to one of their very profitable and long lasting brands.

Source: Joystiq

Permalink

Remember, if you hold a patent for something important, don't sue till they make a ton of money, otherwise it would be a waste of resources.

Because that's how the legal system and patent system are supposed to be used.

AMERICA! F*** YEAH!

I know next to jack about patent law... but isn't there some rule that states you have to ACTUALLY pursue a prototype and distributable product within an allotted amount of time?

If not, I'ma save up a couple grand and patent "intaking gasses through lungs in order to absorb oxygen", then sue every motherfucker that breathes.

Wildcat is suing Wizards of the Coast, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, Sony, and Zynga THIS long after the fact?

Decade-old?

Last time I checked 1995 was a lot closer to being 20 years ago... :(

And I think MTG had a VERY old PC game that played just like their own card game a looong while ago. I'm not sure, but it had the graphics and interface of a true nineties, turn-based game.

GTwander:
I know next to jack about patent law... but isn't there some rule that states you have to ACTUALLY pursue a prototype and distributable product within an allotted amount of time?

If not, I'ma save up a couple grand and patent "intaking gasses through lungs in order to absorb oxygen", then sue every motherfucker that breathes.

No but there is a rule about patenting stuff that people are already doing, so your idea wouldn't work while there's might actually hold up.

GTwander:
I know next to jack about patent law... but isn't there some rule that states you have to ACTUALLY pursue a prototype and distributable product within an allotted amount of time?

If not, I'ma save up a couple grand and patent "intaking gasses through lungs in order to absorb oxygen", then sue every motherfucker that breathes.

The patent for a form of software allows you to do whatever you want with the patent for 18 years from the date of the infraction.

Depending on the exact wording of the patent, Hasboro will actually call it a "potential" electronic medium to convert data from purchased or traded product to physical product instead of electronic cards, or even just call them digital objects(MODO) to smash the face of the patent toll.

I'm not sure what angers me more. That the troll is even able to file the lawsuit in the first place, or that Hasbro will most likely settle with them for an absurd amount of money, or god forbid actually pay the fucker for a license.

vxicepickxv:
The patent for a form of software allows you to do whatever you want with the patent for 18 years from the date of the infraction.

Man... that law had to have been written back before they realized how quickly tech can change formats. It's almost begging society to be held back technologically by a pack of usurpers.

JonB:

Given that M:tGO has been printing money for Wizards for going on ten years now, just about the same amount of time Wildcat has actually had this patent, it's hard not to question the legitimacy of the lawsuit. Even if the suit is legally sound, it's likely that Hasbro's lawyers, and Hasbro's billions of dollars, will have something to say about a threat to one of their very profitable and long lasting brands.

Unfortunately, we all very well know that what they are going to say is "Here, have some money, go bother somebody else now, troll." Thus giving legitimacy to the patent in future cases and making the holders free money for basically doing nothing. It's almost always a lot cheaper to settle than it is to fight, even if you win in these cases. That alone tells me that reform is very, very badly needed in IP law.

There's protecting your patents, and then there's using them for the sake of screwing other people out of money.
This seems to be a case of trying to patent a very universal concept, like drawing a line down the middle of a double bed. It's idiots like this who devolve the power of patent laws by abusing it.

Wizards of the Coast, Electronic Arts, Nintendo, Sony, and Zynga. Not counting zynga.. who has sues left and right coming at it. Do they really think they have leverage against the others. say what you will about EA but Wiz, Nin, and Sony are not pushovers. One does not simply sue nintendo... who had electronic trading cards before there were electronic trading cards.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Trading_Card_Game_%28video_game%29

Also.. what of urban rivals.... that is based on trading cards... they gonna sue them too? I hate our sue-happy society sometimes.

GTwander:
an... that law had to have been written back before they realized how quickly tech can change formats. It's almost begging society to be held back technologically by a pack of usurpers.

It's generally agreed that the law hasn't caught up to the technology yet and probably won't for a while.

Captcha: bread of life

chances are the judge will throw it out and dismiss the Patent as like with Trademarks you have to defend a Patent regularly in order to claim it... its to prevent people stiffling technological progress...
and likely Patent wont be upheld due to other companies having prototypes of the same thing and the concept being regarded now as industry standard...

Bevin Warren:
chances are the judge will throw it out and dismiss the Patent as like with Trademarks you have to defend a Patent regularly in order to claim it... its to prevent people stiffling technological progress...
and likely Patent wont be upheld due to other companies having prototypes of the same thing and the concept being regarded now as industry standard...

then they should have sued like (checks calender) 11-12 years ago unless they are going to try and say that they found out about all these recently

Captch: (blank)
no really there is nothing there now you are just fucking with me.
after refresh: do vato others
it is official captch just went retarded

Wow...

This is right up there next to the woman who claims that she owns the sun...

When, if ever, was the last time a computer game based on the Magic: The Gathering card game actually featured a game mechanic that allowed you to trade virtual cards? Is it not the whole point of buying the computer game that you can whip up a virtual deck from pretty much any magic card that has ever been in print?

Does this latest troll seriously think that a person or company who first creates a collectable card game, and then goes on to publish an electronic version of that same card game owes them money?

Patent trolling should be a criminal offense punishable by death by fire. :P

What the hell, this is like saying you own the RTS genre.
God I hate patent trolls.

I'd say the fact that they've had over a decade to dispute this will probably mean that Wizards wins this one.

This is like someone saying that they patented the concept of 'video games' and decided to sue every other content creator for infringement. it would be like if someone claimed they owned the patent for painting and retroactively sued every art gallery and painter on the planet. It would be like saying you owned the patent for cinema and sued every.. Oh wait, that happened.

I like how they can demand money for a particular sort of thing on a computer and yet pay nothing but lip service to those inventors of computing technologies. These are vultures squatting amongst the bones of titans.

Paradoxrifts:
When, if ever, was the last time a computer game based on the Magic: The Gathering card game actually featured a game mechanic that allowed you to trade virtual cards? Is it not the whole point of buying the computer game that you can whip up a virtual deck from pretty much any magic card that has ever been in print?

Does this latest troll seriously think that a person or company who first creates a collectable card game, and then goes on to publish an electronic version of that same card game owes them money?

Patent trolling should be a criminal offense punishable by death by fire. :P

Unfortunately MTGO is far more like the actual game than that. You buy boosters, trade cards, sell them, etc.

However, with my shaky, not qualified in any way, gained off the back of cereal packets legal knowledge, I'm pretty sure that one of the conditions for suing for infringement is to show that the infringement damaged profits or potential profits in some way. And unless someone can point me to the fantastic Wildcat OTCG that I've been missing, which has suffered a severe decline since MTGO was release, I don't think there's much of a case here.

But then again, I'm an office worker, not a lawyer.

This will not end well for Wildcat.

http://patents.justia.com/1997/05662332.html

Telumektar:
Decade-old?

Last time I checked 1995 was a lot closer to being 20 years ago... :(

Don't say that! I still want to be young, damnit :( Also, haters gonna hate. They just want a piece of the profits Magic is bringing in.

knight4light:
One does not simply sue nintendo... who had electronic trading cards before there were electronic trading cards.

Actually, Nintendo was only the publisher. Hudson soft was the dev, and they're part of Konami now, not Nintendo.

Jhereg42:
This will not end well for Wildcat.

http://patents.justia.com/1997/05662332.html

Actually it might, as what WotC basically patented was their rules system, and it's quite specific.

"Provided herein is a novel method of game play and game components that inone embodiment are in the form of trading cards (10, 12, 40, 42, 44, 48, 54, 60, 64). However, the game components may take other forms, such as a board game, or the game may be played in different media, such as electronic games, video games, computer games, and interactive network. In one version, the game components comprise energy or mana cards 40 and command or spell cards (10, 12, 42, 44, 48, 54, 60, 64) having commands or spells associated therewith that utilize the energy to enable a player to attack, defend and modify the effect of other mana cards, spell cards, and the fundamental rules of play. The goal of the game is to reduce the life points of other players to a level below one. In this game of strategy and chance, players construct their own library of cards, preferably from trading cards, and play their library or deck of cards against the deck of cards of an opposing player. Cards may be obtained from retail outlets, trading with other players or collectors, and winning cards at games and tournaments. "

It recognizes that trading cards are basically a preexisting thing. Further, Mr Pepple applied right around the same time that WotC did. Worse, Konami, in their own patents for the Pokemon electronic card came, cites Pepple's patent, meaning that, of the 'infringers' Nintendo is actually in deep shit, as the devs of the game they published acknowledged in their own patent that they're using Mr Pepple's (the original inventor) idea.

What I think may have happened is that Pepple sold the patent rights to Wildcat, who is now sueing, but I can only speculate.

Edit: Wildcat apparently acquired this patent in conjunction with the IP for the online cardgame Unit Command: http://www.unitcommand.com/

Edit 2: Nope, Pepple is a partner in the company. Here's the filing papers for a suit filed last year over one of the associated patents:

http://news.priorsmart.com/wildcat-intellectual-property-holdings-v-4kids-entertainment-l4b8/#Complaint

Since EA is named as a defendant, is it wrong for me to want to see that patent holder win?

BaronIveagh:

knight4light:
One does not simply sue nintendo... who had electronic trading cards before there were electronic trading cards.

Actually, Nintendo was only the publisher. Hudson soft was the dev, and they're part of Konami now, not Nintendo.

Jhereg42:
This will not end well for Wildcat.

http://patents.justia.com/1997/05662332.html

Actually it might, as what WotC basically patented was their rules system, and it's quite specific.

U.S. Patent Number 5,662,332; abstract:

"Provided herein is a novel method of game play and game components that inone embodiment are in the form of trading cards (10, 12, 40, 42, 44, 48, 54, 60, 64). However, the game components may take other forms, such as a board game, or the game may be played in different media, such as electronic games, video games, computer games, and interactive network. In one version, the game components comprise energy or mana cards 40 and command or spell cards (10, 12, 42, 44, 48, 54, 60, 64) having commands or spells associated therewith that utilize the energy to enable a player to attack, defend and modify the effect of other mana cards, spell cards, and the fundamental rules of play. The goal of the game is to reduce the life points of other players to a level below one. In this game of strategy and chance, players construct their own library of cards, preferably from trading cards, and play their library or deck of cards against the deck of cards of an opposing player. Cards may be obtained from retail outlets, trading with other players or collectors, and winning cards at games and tournaments. "

It recognizes that trading cards are basically a preexisting thing. Further, Mr Pepple applied right around the same time that WotC did. Worse, Konami, in their own patents for the Pokemon electronic card came, cites Pepple's patent, meaning that, of the 'infringers' Nintendo is actually in deep shit, as the devs of the game they published acknowledged in their own patent that they're using Mr Pepple's (the original inventor) idea.

What I think may have happened is that Pepple sold the patent rights to Wildcat, who is now sueing, but I can only speculate.

though Magic the Gathering has existed since 1996, and this patent was filed in 1997 meaning that by virtue of the thing the patent is being filed for already existing, or the large basis thereof the patent is null, and void. because by the abstract alone (which makes little to no reference to an electronic medium) that is MtG, so in all reality the patent has no merit to begin with

EDIT: MtG first released in 1993, and patent filed in 1995. still we know what came first

Omegatronacles:
Unfortunately MTGO is far more like the actual game than that. You buy boosters, trade cards, sell them, etc.

I know you're being deadly serious. Because that joke is almost profoundly unfunny.

gardian06:

EDIT: MtG first released in 1993, and patent filed in 1995. still we know what came first

Yeah, the reason for the WotC patent was actually to eliminate a lot of up and coming CCGs that were giving M:tG competition.

If you think about it, that means that this whole thing is actually patent troll on patent troll action.

Goddammit, how many times do we have to go through this before the government figures out the system is broken and fixes the patent laws on software.

I know the government is designed to move slowly and deliberately, but seriously, hasn't it been long enough yet?

WotC filing date: Oct 17, 1995 / Issue date: Sep 2, 1997
Ref: http://www.google.com/patents/US5662332

Wildcat patent 6200216 Filed: March 6, 1995 Date of patent: March 13th 2001
Ref http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect2=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&RefSrch=yes&Query=PN/6200216

This makes an interesting case really. Magic can be considered prior art easily enough, and though the Wildcat patent was filed earlier, it was not ISSUED until 2001 for some reason, 3 years after WotC completed a patent that allowed them to run their game as an on-line game. We would need a legal expert to weigh in on this to be sure, but I THINK the issue date takes priority in this case. WotC has been operating under a legally issued patent. I just don't see much of a case against them. The question then would become are they in violation of WotC's patent.

Ahh, Texas, home of the free, brave, and patent trolls.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here