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Dec 12, 2008



As far as I can say this patents have no real value outside of US. As far as I know you can't patent game idea, software solution idea or anything alike even in USA currently. All you can do is to patent software as part of some hardware solution with out which that hardware will not work. And even then if someone reverse engineers that software and then rewrites it with changes then it will be a big problem to prove something as such patents on ideas and software usually need very precise definition of what is patented that does not allow any interpretation till last bit because if you leave such field for interpretation then that means software that differs only in places that can be interpret may end up not breaking you patent.

I am not a lawyer but I am currently getting my Master degree in Computer Science in Europe and we have a discipline called IT laws where we had chapters both on European, USA, and World copyrights and patents laws. So for USA it was confusing with that for a while so some algorithms like LZW were patented this way for 20 years. But after some time laws were polished and and up being like above. Or at least that's what I remember. And in Europe this seems to be like that to but from the beginning of IT laws.

So from that point of view above Patents sound too abstract with too large possibilities to interpret them so possibility i very high that they will be canceled or something if they push too much. Plus I presume that they are USA only no?


In terms of publication of these ideas, a historical search of any of the relevant newsgroups from 1990 onwards would undoubtedly find this exact vision (3d graphical MUDs) discussed to death. I know that I certainly envisioned this back in my Diku days.

I think this is a cash grab that's destined for an epic fail.


Heh. Turns out this kind of thing is now going on in Europe and Asia with other attempts to enforce at virtual world patents filed since the mid to late 1990s.

For the record and posterity, as a pioneer of many of the technologies in the late 80's and early 90s and concepts underlying such claims, I am available as a professional expert witness. In the last year have worked on several cases surrounding bogus virtual world patent claims. Most you haven't heard of because we overwhelm them with prior-art and the die long before trial.

Ask Will Harvey (IMVU) how Forterra tried to shake him down by asserting that they had a patent on the 3D-word balloon in virtual worlds. I had fun providing the prior art for that one! If he'd lost, I'm 100% that Blizzard was next in line. [I should really write a blog post up about this one - Will, if you're reading this, drop me a line with the latest status.] As it is, your word balloons are safe. :-)

I've also referred other lame claims off to other pioneers/Terra Nova regulars, such as Brian Green.

I've also just today faxed of a witness statement in an international case that's so dumb it makes my head hurt.

Here's the deal - much of the stuff people patented starting in the late 1990s was previously created and not patented because we didn't think you *could* patent software. Lucky thing for virtual worlds this is true.

Patent trolls aren't going to get away with claiming *my* virtual world prior art! I'm a pack rat. I have stuff you didn't even know existed, and I know where I put it. :-)


From what I read back then there should be some relevant published research on multi-user VR from the early 1990s, but I guess the "scalable" viewpoint might "kill" most of those prototypes as they were aiming for real-time performance (e.g. multicast implementations).


(I assume the authors of DIVE know what was available at the time period you are interested in.)


Mike Sellers>Are there other examples of 3D client-server games?

Well there's Cyberstrike, which won CGW's "online game of the year" award in 1993. There's also the 1990 BattleTech Centers stuff, where they had Amiga clients running in pods linked to a Mac server.



Very interesting indeed.

These Copyrights have a way of turning up just when the pot grows larger.


According to the USPTO, the named inventor on the chat bubble patent is ... Will Harvey!
The plot thickens.


I've posted over at Habitat Chronicles an expanded post on the topic of virtual world patent trolling - read The Demise of the Word Balloon Patent or How IMVU, Bruce Damer and I Saved Blizzard a Million Dollars and They Don't Even Know!


Also there was Visual Compuserve, programmed by John D. Gwinner, currently CTO of DAZ Systems.


He was the forum sysop of Cyberforum on Compuserve and he did get a 3d interface running to some extent. I played with the demo back in 95. If you google his name and VisCIS you will find postings of his on the net from late 95 about it.

Randy might know more about this, but I remember way back when, talking to John in Worldsaway, that he was speaking to Fujitsu about doing a 3d interface for them too. I do not know how far it went.


Warm regards to Mr Farmer. It's often the "packrats" who produce the clipping -- or in this case, paperback book -- that proves the "prior art" needed to disprove a patent's alleged novelty.
Prior art does need to be published though, to be presented as a defense.
Speaking of old paperbacks on my shelf, here's a puzzler for you. Why isn't the 1984 novel "Neuromancer" (to name just one) a sufficiently fully realized description of 3D, avatar-centric virtual worlds to establish the nonnovelty of the Worlds.com patents?

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