Worlds.com, a company specialized in virtual world development, says that it has filed a suit against NCsoft, a MMO publisher best known for operating City of Heroes/City of Villains, related to the way it has implemented technology in its multiplayer games. The law suit is for patent infringement and the main problem is related to a patent for “System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space”. No court date has been set for the trial.
World.com says that all of NCsoft's MMO
s, including Dungeon Runners, City of Heroes/Villains and Lineage II, are in violation of the patent. Worlds.com was launched in 1994 and during the recent months it has attracted some attention by saying that it holds patents for two essential MMO technologies, “scalable chat” and “user interaction in a virtual space.”
If this is true, World.com is basically in control of two patents that would allow the company to draw revenue from all MMOs currently in operation, including heavy weights like World of Warcraft from Blizzard, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning from Mythic and Electronic Arts or The Lord of the Rings Online. The patents the firm has were obtained in 2001, after applications for them were filled in 1996.
The Worlds.com law suit has been filed in the Eastern District of Texas and the company is trying to get all NCsoft
operated MMOs to stop activity while the patent infringement is investigated. Damages in compensation for the infringement, amounting to “in no event less than a reasonable royalty” and lawyers' fees are also sought by Worlds.com.
NCsoft will probably argue that the patents invoked in the trial are void as similar technologies have been independently used in a wide variety of games, some of them before the patent was obtained by Worlds.com.