Activision is at war. Their properties Call of Duty and World of Warcraft are subject to litigation by Worlds Inc., a company that claims the patent for “online interactions in games” since 2001.
Having previously brought NC Soft to court in 2009 (and formed an unclassified settlement), Worlds Inc. has set its sights to one of today’s largest publishers and two of today’s largest intellectual properties. We got a chance to interview the CEO of Worlds Inc. to learn more about his motivations, plans and expectations as he takes on an industry goliath in search of justice. Here is what was said:
1) Thank you for taking the time to conduct an interview with us. If you don’t mind, could we start off by telling us a little about Worlds Inc. and what it is you guys do?
Worlds Inc. (OTC:BB:WDDD) is an intellectual property developer and licensee of patents related to 3D online virtual worlds. The Company has a portfolio of 6 US patents and 1 “notice of allowance” for a seventh patent for multi-server technology for 3D applications. Such patents have been licensed to Worlds Online and are expected to be licensed to other industry participants. Worlds Online offers technology that provides convergence opportunities between social media sites, blogs, product marketing, and the creation of worlds, which utilize 3D virtual technology and other features to provide revenue opportunities.
The Company’s principle goal will be to continue to grow its IP portfolio, while protecting and monetizing it through patent infringement litigation. In addition, Worlds Inc. intends to be active in the creation and acquisition of related digital media technologies and patents that complement their current patent portfolio and that broaden the features, versatility and reach of the technology to allow for its utilization in the broadest possible way.
2) In 2008, your company filed a patent infringement lawsuit against NC Soft. A settlement was made that was not released to the public. Are you willing to comment on that? If not, what did you learn from that lawsuit that you plan to use in the current one?
We cannot discuss the NC Soft settlement. We now fully understand why it is necessary to have a law firm that has a solid history of successfully prosecuting patent infringement litigation against major players in the relevant industry.
3) According to your website, your first patent filed for “The present invention provides a highly scalable architecture for a three-dimensional graphical, multi-user, interactive virtual world system,” was on April 17th, 2001. Online interactions in games have existed for just as long. Why have you and your company waited until now to take action on the infringement of your patent?
Worlds 1st patent was granted on April 17th 2001, the patent application was initially filed on November 12, 1996 and has a priority date of November 11, 1995. That is six years earlier in the beginning of the Web, the very earliest days of 3D multiuser online games.
The timing for the lawsuit was based upon the additional continuation patents that Worlds has recently received over the prior art, as well as independent analysis. We were fortunate that Max L. Tribble, lead counsel for Susman Godfrey LLP who has a stellar record for patent infringement wins against large organizations, was eager to be lead counsel on this case on a contingency basis following Susman Godfrey’s review of the patents, our history as an operating company since 1994 and other details.
4) Out of all of the companies that you could’ve chosen, why Activision and the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft franchises?
We believe there is plentiful and strong evidence of infringement of our patents by Activision Blizzard, Inc. et al and that we have an excellent chance of success in this case.
5) What does your company plan to gain from this lawsuit with Activision? Do you think you will come out successful?
A successful outcome will reaffirm Worlds’ patents’ validity and our place as an early innovator in virtual worlds development. A win will provide the company with greater flexibility in its pursuit of acquiring additional IP that is synergistic with Worlds’ technology.
We believe there is strong evidence of infringement of our patents by Activision et al. Coupled with Susman Godfrey’s history of successfully litigating against large companies, including Activision, we believe we will be successful. It is hard to imagine that Susman Godfrey LLP with lead counsel Max L Tribble would accept this case on a contingency basis unless they believed the same.
6) If things do go well for Worlds Inc., what are your company’s plans? Will we see you going after other companies who infringed on your copyright?
In patent litigation matters such as this one, at this time it is not in our best interest to state the names of any other companies that may be infringing on our patents nor to discuss any potential future actions being contemplated related to other companies. We will be working closely with Susman Godfrey to determine any additional parties to pursue and what actions to take related to patent infringement.
7) Any other things you want to say?
We would just like to explain a bit of detail about our patents. Worlds’ patents cover load balancing between the user’s PC and the host server commonly known as a client /server architecture. These methods filter the number of visible avatars on the screen at one time when there are hundreds of thousands of users online simultaneously.
When Worlds’ initial patents were filed in 1995, the major constraints for multiplayer online gaming were bandwidth and PC processing power. Worlds developed methodology and techniques that allowed large numbers of users to log into the same virtual world from around the world concurrently without being locked out of the site due to reaching prefixed population limits.
In the late ‘90s users were limited to between 10 – 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 had 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. Players wanted to play together even if they logged on at different times and expected a fluid user experience moving within graphically rich virtual environments. Worlds’ technology solved those problems.
GamingUnwrapped will keep you informed of the Worlds Inc./Activision-Blizzard lawsuit. In the meantime, tell us what you think. Is Worlds Inc. justified in this lawsuit? Leave us a comment below.