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Jun 21, 2008



I have print documentation of the girst graphical virtual world's token economy (Lucasfilm's Habitat/Club Caribe), depending on your legal standard, a 1986-1988 date applies. Also, in the late 1990's, WorldsAway sold so-called virtual goods for real $.

If this is of any help, I'm available as a contract subject matter expert (and inventor in the area.) Feel free to foward any inquiries to me at randy dot farmer at pobox dot com.

As for online escrow, credit, taxes, and the like, Chip Morningstar (co-author of much of the work above) also co-founded the American Information Exchange, a public online service that did many of the things listed above in the early 90's (Pre-web!). I know that he is also available as an expert...

We'd love to help put these shenanigans to bed.


I have written about using World of Warcraft for teaching economic theory.
If nothing else it may give a non player an idea of the market


On the subject of banking systems, I’d point to a “Central Bank” myself and several others introduced into “A Tale in the Desert” in 2003. The game world was unusual in that it didn’t have a developer mandated currency, and most trade was by barter. We introduced a paper currency called the TN backed by deposits of virtual “physical” goods. The Wiki has a write-up.


Other players created other banks with other methods of giving value to paper currency. One of them “The Goods”, was I think pretty novel.


I do hope these kind of patent attempts get shot down. It does seem like the patent system is often a drag on innovation, rather than a spur. Glad to hear the patent office is looking in the right places for precedents.


At least this explains a very random IM exchange I had the other day with someone claiming to be a Patent lawyer.


>Does anyone know the first uses of credit in virtual worlds? It has to be well before 2005.


If this patent is granted, then you can patent anything that's well-understood in the real world and add "in a virtual world" to claim your own, personal ownership of a piece of the bleeding obvious.



>Does anyone know the first uses of credit in virtual worlds? It has to be well before 2005.

I beat Batman on the Amiga in 1990. I was the coolest kid on the block for like a week.


There.com has had a complex Therebucks economy with auctions, rentals, currency exchanges, etc. since they opened beta in early 2003.

In August of 2003, the economic specialist hired by there.com, Bruce Boston who went by the name Baloo, started "The First Bank of There" which included savings accounts, loans, etc.

He would be the guy to contact to prove "prior art" before 2004.


I'm glad the examiner is actually looking for prior art. But maybe some of the lawyers here can help answer this related question.

Didn't an inventor (at some point in history) have to prove one's invention a) was novel and non-obvious to a skilled person in the field, b) was sufficiently disclosed (such that someone could actually license it and use the invention without "re-inventing" it themselves), and c) that it actually existed in the first place?

If the invention was not "rendered unto practice" in some prototype, wouldn't a firm be committing fraud against the US government if they signed the application as if it did? (I mean, if mere expressions of ideas are patentable, then why not use science fiction as prior art?)

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