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Company plans to sue Blizzard over virtual world patent


We'll just give you a second to soak up that headline. And ... good. It was recently reported by Silicon Alley Insider that CEO Thom Kidrin "absolutely" plans to sue MMO giant Blizzard should his company win its lawsuit against NCsoft, publisher of City of Heroes and Guild Wars. The subject of the suit is the very concept of virtual worlds which, Kidrin claims, is patented by, thanks to a children's product that was created in 1997. According to SAI, the patents cover "an architecture for enabling thousands of simultaneous users in a 3D virtual space." is seeking licensing fees from any company that would employ such a technology.

Call us crazy, but the concept of virtual worlds has been around for decades. Our kindred at WoW Insider point out, and we're inclined to agree, that there are many examples of prior art that essentially invalidate the patent anyway. WoW Insider cites the term 'cyberspace' as coined by William Gibson and used in his 1984 novel Neuromancer. One might even argue that the internet itself qualifies.

On top of that, NCsoft itself has yet to be served with notice of the suit. We're not legal experts, but we'd say Blizzard and the creators of, oh, every other MMO are safe. If is eager to find another genre to sue, allow us to suggest first-person shooters. There are lots of people playing those online too.

[Via WoW Insider]

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