earlier in the month we reported on Worlds.com placing down patents on two technologies that we commonly use in the MMO industry -- scalable chat and system and method of enabling users of interacting in a virtual space -- and how much havoc this could play with our favorite games. We also made the assumption that lawyers were going to begin marching from Worlds.com with suits in hand, beginning their demands of money.
It turns out our assumption was right. Worlds.com has filed the necessary paper work to bring a suit against one of the big names in our industry: NCsoft. The suit was filed on Christmas Eve, December 24th, and charged NCsoft with infringement of patent 7,181,690, the system and method of enabling users of interacting in a virtual space, which was granted in early 2007. The suit cites all NCsoft titles, from Lineage to Aion, as the grounds for the patent infringement.
As a small side note, patent 7,181,690 was filed in 2000 -- over a year after EverQuest launched and dominated the fledgling industry with somewhere around 300,000 subscribers.
We contacted Worlds.com for comment on the 14th of December in connection with our first story, but they have not returned our requests for comment.
We'll keep our ears to the ground as more developments appear in this story.
Update: We have additional commentary on this patent suit.