[MUD-Dev] [biz] Worlds targets EQ in its patent battle

Frank Crowell frankc at maddog.com
Fri May 4 10:43:57 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Here is the what WiredNews reported May 3:


EverQuest is "first on the list," according to Thom Kidren, CEO of
Worlds.com.  "I couldn't honestly answer where we will go with this,
but EverQuest is a top contender for evaluation of their technology to
see if it matches what is defined in this patent."

For some of you on my mail list, you know that I have gotten some
response concerning this patent and it looks like the "patent
developers" themselves had some concerns.

Additional comment:

For a company that reported $489,000 in revenue in Q4 2000, picking a
fight with behemoths Sony and Microsoft may seem quixotic.  But Kidren
said he's ready for a challenge. He said he's been searching for six
years for prior art that could be used to invalidate his patent.

Strangely enough, people on the VRML mail list have eagerly been
citing prior art for the last couple of weeks.  I think someone needs
to talk to Thom Kidren and get him back of Earth.  Finally,

"It's clear that the claims are not broad enough to encompass all
3-D-type graphics programs and systems," said Bob McAughan, a patent
attorney for the law firm Howrey, Simon, Arnold & White.

The Worlds.com patent specifically covers the end user's ability to
limit the number of graphical images, called "avatars," seen on the
user's screen. A game like EverQuest uses a more broad visual control
that covers the user's ability to see the whole world, players,
monsters, nature, landscape, everything.

The belief is that if Worlds had gone with a broader patent like Compton
did with multimedia, the patent would not stand a chance.  But I thought
it was common practice in patent wars to write covering patents.  If
companies like Microsoft, EA, and Sony wants to do something about this,
I believe there is room for writing covering patents.  I am not sure
that I would trust any of them with the patents, but the patents could
be turned over to a neutral party -- maybe MERA or the Contact
Consortium.  I am not a patent attorney (although I play one on TV), but
I can get some cooperation on compiliing prior art and even getting
people to work on the patents if that could mean protecting virtual
worlds, in particular multiuser 3D spaces.

frankc at maddog.com

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