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MMORP Patent War

Warcraft is challenged
In federal court battle
For virtual worlds

World of Warcraft game maker Blizzard Entertainment is going to find itself in a real battle – not just a virtual one — when it goes to court next year on charges of infringing patents owned by Worlds Inc.

World of Warcraft (WoW) is the most successful massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) ever created, with nearly nine million subscribers.

WoW players choose whether they want to fight on the side of the “Alliance” or on the side of the “Horde.” There are different “races” players can choose from on each side, including humans or dwarves for the Alliance and trolls or orcs for the Horde.

The patents in question are US patents numbered 8,082,501, 7,493,558, 7,945,856 and 7,181,69. They cover various ways of implementing a “SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR ENABLING USERS TO INTERACT IN A VIRTUAL SPACE.” More information on the patents can be found here.

In an interview in Forbes, Worlds CEO Thom Kidrin said:

In the late ‘90s users were limited to between 10 to 15 concurrent users per room and if you logged in a few minutes after your friends did, you could not play with them because the room had already reached its limit and been closed to additional users.

As the confluence of separate internet service providers (ISPs), such as Compserve, GE Net and Delphi, to name a few, evolved into the World Wide Web, the need for datastream management methods for avatars in a virtual world across different PC platforms accessing the web at varying internet speeds became a crucial problem to solve.

Kidrin says Worlds’ patents solve those problem, and Blizzard is using their technology without a license. Worlds says it has not yet completed its technical analysis on whether other MMO games are infringing on its patents.

US District Judge Denise J. Casper (District of Massachusetts) has set the trial for 2013, and has a hearing scheduled for June 27, 2013.

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