The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office agreed to re-examine online-gaming patent 6,264,560 after the Electronic Frontier Foundation challenged it on the grounds that the technology covered by the patent had been used extensively before it was issued.
The patent is entitled “Method and system of playing games on a network” and allegedly claims all Internet gaming systems that use tournament-style play, display advertisements and have real-time updates of rankings in multiplayer games. Seems pretty broad, except for the fact that it potentially has priority back to December, 1996. The patent issued on July 24, 2001.
Abstract from patent: The present invention is a game playing method and apparatus for automating games such as blackjack, poker, craps, roulette, baccarat and pai gow, wherein players may play continuously and asynchronously, and information related to advertised items can be exchanged between players and advertisers. In one embodiment, each instance of a game is likely unique from all other current game instances. The games do not require a manual dealer and in one embodiment, played in a gaming establishment using low cost gaming stations. The present invention may also be used to play such games on the Internet or an interactive cable television network wherein a game controller communicates with players at network nodes in their homes and at their leisure since there is no game tempo requirement. During a game, advertising is selectively provided by comparing player personal information with a desired demographic profile. Player responses to advertising are used for evaluating advertising effectiveness. The invention is useful for test marketing of products, advertisements, and reduces advertising costs.
Claim 1: A method for conducting one or more tournaments, comprising:
identifying players requesting to join one of the tournaments, wherein each tournament includes a plurality of instances of a game for playing by each of the players identified, wherein for each of the players, at least one of the following (a) and (b) must be satisfied for the player to complete one of the tournaments:
(a) a predetermined number of instances of the game must be played by the player;
(b) a predetermined amount of time must elapse between the commencement of the tournament and the termination of the tournament;
for each tournament, the following steps are performed:
(A1) selecting the identified players to be included in the tournament;
(A2) grouping the players into groups, wherein for each group, the players therein compete against one another in playing instances of the game;
(A3) determining one or more winning players for each group;
(A4) establishing a modified version of the game by changing a rule of the game while retaining another rule for the game;
(A5) combining the winning players from different groups into one or more new groups for competing against one another in playing instances of the modified version of the game.
Claim 81: A method of playing a game on the Internet, comprising:
first receiving player identification at a game playing Internet accessible node (GPIAN) for first and second players;
transmitting, via the Internet, from the GPIAN, first information related to communications between: (a) the GPIAN, and (b) a first Internet accessible node from which the first player communicates with the GPIAN;
wherein said first information is utilized in subsequent Internet communications between the GPIAN and the first Internet accessible node;
causing said first information to be stored on the first Internet accessible node so that it is available in subsequent different Internet connections by the first player;
second receiving, via the Internet, at the GPIAN, first responsive information indicative of said first information being present on said first Internet accessible node;
first playing with the first player a first game, wherein one or more game play representations are transmitted to the first player via the first Internet accessible node;
second playing with the second player a second game, wherein one or more game play representations are transmitted to the second player and from the GPIAN while the first player is playing the first game;
playing of a third game between said GPIAN and the second player, wherein a third collection of one or more game play representations is transmitted to the second player, and wherein the transmissions of the game play representations for the third collection and the first collection overlap in time;
wherein said step of second receiving at the GPIAN occurs when the first player has reconnected the first Internet accessible node to the Internet after said first information has been stored on the first Internet accessible node and said first Internet accessible node has disconnected from the Internet.
Claim 87. A method of playing a game on a communications network, comprising:
receiving, at a game playing node of the network, a request for selecting a pace of play of an instance of the game by a first user at a first node of the network;
first transmitting game plays between said game playing node and the first user using network communications between the game playing node and the first node, wherein at least a second user has played an instance of the game; and
transmitting to the first node a ranking of said second user, wherein the ranking is indicative of a proficiency of the second user in playing the game.
Claim 92. A method of playing a game on a communications network, comprising:
receiving at a game playing node on the network, a contact by each of a plurality of users, via a corresponding node on the network for the user, for initiating a corresponding instance of the game between the game playing node and the user’s corresponding node, and at least some of said instances overlap in time;
transmitting game plays between said game playing node and a first of the users, for the corresponding instance of the game;
transmitting from the game playing node to the corresponding node of the first user, the ranking of a second of the users, wherein said ranking is indicative of a proficiency of the second user in playing the game, and said ranking is updated to present a change in said ranking while the first user is playing the game.
Claim 94. A method of playing a game on a communications network, comprising:
first receiving, from each of a plurality of users via a corresponding node for the user on the network, a contact at a game playing node on the network, so that each of the users initiates a corresponding instance of the game between the game playing node and the user’s corresponding node, and at least some of said instances overlap in time;
second receiving, at the game playing network node from a first of the users via the first user’s corresponding network node, a request for selecting a pace of play of the corresponding game instance;
playing, by the first user, the corresponding instance of the game with the game playing node at the pace selected by the first user.
Claim 95. An apparatus for playing a game on a network, comprising:
a display area for electronically displaying an instance of the game to a first user;
an input area for allowing the first user to input a game play;
a communications network connection for communicating, on a network, game related information, between: (a) one or more of said display and said input area, and (b) an addressable node on said network accessible by a network address available to said apparatus;
wherein a plurality of users communicate with said addressable node for playing instances of the game; and
wherein between at least a majority of game plays by the first user, there is a game play related network transmission via said communications connection; and
a game speed of play control for allowing the first user to control the pace of the instance of the game.
Claim 102. An apparatus for playing a game on a network, comprising:
a display area for electronically displaying an instance of the game;
an input area for allowing a first user to input a game play for said instance of the game;
a communications network connection for communicating game related information between said apparatus and a game controller, wherein said game controller communicates with said apparatus via a network, said network also connected to additional network nodes for allowing simultaneous play of instances of the game with the game controller by a plurality of users;
a control for allowing the first user to cancel a previously entered wager;
a card reader, wherein when an identification card identifying the first user is provided thereto, data identifying the first user is communicated to the game controller.
Claim 103. An apparatus for playing a card game electronically, comprising:
a card generator for generating one or more electronic card representations for playing the card game;
a game playing engine for playing a first electronic instance of the card game between a first player and a substantially electronic dealer module, wherein the first player is dealt a first sequence of the card representations, and wherein a second player plays a second instance of the card game with the dealer module so that said first and second card game instances overlap in time, and wherein the second player receives a second sequence of the card representations; and
wherein, for an initial series of one or more plays by said first player using said first sequence, when said second player also initially plays said initial series of one or more identical plays using said second sequence, then for corresponding identical plays by said first and second players, their corresponding hands of card representations are identical.
Claim 104. An apparatus for playing a card game electronically, comprising:
a card generator for generating card representations for playing said card game electronically;
a game playing engine for playing said card game with a plurality of players simultaneously, wherein said game playing engine transmits, for each player, a corresponding collection of one or more of said card representations through a communications network to the player;
a timer in operative communication with said game playing engine for changing a time limit for accepting an input from a first of said players when said first player transmits a communications network request to change a speed of play of said game.