On this day in history, as reported by Wired.com, on May 26, 1981, the USPTO granted the first pure software patent, U.S. Patent No. 4,270,182, to Satya Pal Asija. Video games are computer software, so the ‘182 patent really was a groundbreaker for the industry. The software was a natural-language-interface program called Swift-Answer, an acronym for the contrived name Special Word-Indexed Full-Text Alpha-Numeric Storage With Easy Retrieval.
Online chat company Paltalk Holdings, Inc. and Microsoft Corporation have formally dismissed the patent suit between them in the Eastern District of Texas.
In the suit, Paltalk alleged that the chat and communication features in Microsoft’s XBox Live service infringed Paltalk’s patents 5,822,523 and 6,226,686, both entitled “Server-group Messaging System for Interactive Applications,” and sought tens of millions of dollars in damages. Microsoft alleged that the asserted claims were invalid, and that their service did not infringe those patents.
The case went to trial in March of 2009, but it abruptly ended when the parties announced they had reached a settlement. The formal dismissal is a procedural step that formally closes the court’s books on the case.
The settlement means those patents have avoided having their validity and scope tested in that court, so they live to fight another day. No word yet on whether Paltalk will target some other unlucky online gaming company, but we’ll keep an eye out and keep you posted.
For those keeping track at home, the case cite is: Paltalk Holdings, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., No. 2:06cv367 (E.D. Tx, filed Sept. 12, 2006).
1) Square Enix reportedly kills Chrono Trigger fan project based on alleged copyright infringement.
Samuel Michael Keller v. Electronic Arts inc. et al.
case number 09-cv-1967
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
Law360, New York (May 06, 2009) — A former quarterback for Arizona State University has filed a putative class action against Electronic Arts Inc. and the National Collegiate Athletics Association for appropriating and using the images and attributes of college sports players in its popular line of interactive video games in violation of NCAA rules, which prohibit commercialization of college players.Sam Keller, once a starting quarterback for ASU’s and University of Nebraska’s football teams, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, claiming that EA video games like NCAA March Madness, NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball violate NCAA rules prohibiting the use of college athletes’ names and images in commercial ventures.
It looks like Mr. Keller is trying to get class action status, which could make this a huge case and a potential black eye for the NCAA and EA. Apparently EA has copied the appearance and likeness of players, down to their personal clothing choices and hairstyles, without actually using the players’ names. However, many of the games allow users to upload rosters that include the actual players’ names. This case just might have legs. We’ve added it to our tracking list and will keep you posted regarding substantive developments.
In an interesting twist, Taser International voluntarily dismissed this case before Linden even answered the complaint. Taser filed a Notice of Voluntary Case Dismissal on May 5, 2009. Because Linden never filed an answer, the dismissal is without prejudice and Taser could choose to refile the case at a later time if desired. But for now, this case is closed.