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.
1) Square Enix reportedly kills Chrono Trigger fan project based on alleged copyright infringement.
The San Francisco Chronicle ran a nice article today about virtual law, including quotes from yours truly. The high point (at least in MY opinion):
But some attorneys set up virtual offices in the world as a kind of advertisement. Intellectual property specialists Banner & Witcoff did just that, and their virtual presence led to their attorney Ross Dannenberg representing one of the highest-profile virtual law cases so far. Like the sex bed case, the Sailor’s Cove case was not unlike many real-world disputes: It was an ownership conflict based on an alleged oral contract. Dannenberg represented two users who assisted a virtual real estate developer in running a large group of islands in Second Life called Sailor’s Cove. When the three parted ways, Dannenberg argued that the owner had previously made his two managers full partners and co-owners in the venture. But the owner of record claimed full ownership. The case was settled out of court, with Dannenberg’s clients receiving a financial settlement.
You can read the entire article here.
On April 10, 2009, Nadya Suleman, who became famous in January when she gave birth to octuplets, filed a pair of trademark applications at the USPTO. She wants to use the mark for disposable diapers, cloth diapers, dresses, pants, shirts and entertainment in the nature of ongoing television programs in the field of “varity” [sic].
Sounds logical, right?
The only problem is that Austin, Texas-based Super Happy Fun Fun Inc. had already filed an application on March 12 for OCTOMOM for computer game software; downloadable mobile entertainment software such as ring tones, screen savers and wallpaper graphics; toy action figures and accessories; puppets; balloons; chess sets; golf balls; snowboards; and even Christmas tree ornaments.
Super Happy Fun Fun, Inc.’s trademark application is serial number 77689864.
Nadya Suleman’s trademark applications are serial numbers 77711852 and 77711827.
On a related note…
If you haven’t already heard, the four men connected to The Pirate Bay, the world’s most notorious file sharing site, were convicted by a Swedish court Friday of contributory copyright infringement, and each sentenced to a year in prison.
Pirate Bay administrators Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Peter Sunde were found guilty in the case, along with Carl Lundström, who was accused of funding the 5-year-old operation.
In addition to jail time, the defendants were ordered to pay damages of 30 million kronor ($3.6 million) to a handful of entertainment companies, including Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Bros, EMI and Columbia Pictures, for the infringement of 33 specific movie and music properties tracked by industry investigators…
Read more at WIRED.com.
Cloud computing has been a hot topic lately. Just ask Dell, whose application to register the trademark CLOUD COMPUTING was refused because the term is already generic. Amazon, Google, and other service providers also offer cloud computing services. More recently, however, at GDC 2009 OnLive.com made their public launch. On it’s web site, OnLive has this to say:
OnLive is launching the world’s highest performance Games On Demand service, instantly delivering the latest high-end titles over home broadband Internet to the TV and entry-level PCs and Macs. Founded by noted technology entrepreneur Steve Perlman (WebTV, QuickTime) and incubated within the Rearden media and technology incubator, OnLive spent seven years in stealth development before officially unveiling in March 2009. OnLive, together with its Mova subsidiary, lies directly at the nexus of several key trends, all of which are reshaping the way we think about and use digital media:
- The shift to cloud computing, displacing the limitations, cost and complexity of local computing;
- An explosion of consumer broadband connectivity, bringing fast bandwidth to the home;
- Unprecedented innovation, creativity and expansion within the video game market.
Pioneering the delivery of rich interactive media to the home, OnLive will change the way that entertainment applications are created, delivered and consumed.
Anyone who stopped by OnLive’s booth at GDC got a real treat. Solid game play and no lag (let’s hope it stays that way when millions of people start playing at once, instead of 20 people in the booth).
And perhaps (not?) coincidentally, on the same day that OnLive made their public debut, Sony filed a new trademark application for PS CLOUD.
It looks like cloud gaming is here, folks. I can’t wait to see how this plays out…
It appears that congress is again going to try to pass patent reform legislation. Rather than recreate the wheel, and based on other deadlines I have today, feel free to read the summary article over at Patently-O. Dennis does a fine job summarizing it and provides copies of the house and senate versions of the bill (which are somewhat different–so this might take a while… again).
Sorry for the short post, but I at least wanted to get the information out there.
–In what is considered the first event of its kind, Santa Clara University School of Law is holding an open house in the virtual world of Second Life on Jan. 22.
Visitors to Second Life, an Internet-based universe where real-life users assign themselves as cartoon characters and go to virtual, animated locations, will travel virtually to Santa Clara Island to see the school.
The event is designed to attract potential students and emphasize the law school’s close ties with the technology industry in the Silicon Valley area of California.
“We need to meet prospective law students where they are, and more and more, we find potential law students on various online arenas, including virtual worlds,” said Julia Yaffee, senior assistant dean of external relations, in a press release.
Hosting the two-hour event that begins at 6 p.m. West Coast time is Jeanette Leach, dean of admissions. She will attend as her own self-created avatar character, Penny Canucci. Second Life residents — who total 15 million — can tour the school and see a video of Dean Donald Polden as himself, not an avatar. Visitors also can ask admissions staff questions and get information about applying to the school.–
Kudos to Santa Clara Law School for this unique event. I’ll probably stop by and check it out, too, so be on the lookout for my avatar (Aviator Kidd).
You know, I’ve been waiting for over a year since I first heard about Guitar Rising, a Guitar Hero style video game that you can play with a REAL guitar. It seems to be the holy grail of interactivity–if you win the game, you have ACTUAL SKILLS you can use in real life to play an instrument. But it never seems to come to fruition. As of this morning, Guitar Rising’s web site still hasn’t changed or been updated to give us any glimmer of hope that a release is forthcoming.
Well it seems someone has now beaten them to the punch: Disney. Yes, THAT Disney. Disney’s Guitar Star will be directed towards tweens at first, but if you can really play it with any guitar, then I might just pick up a copy myself and plug in my own axe. The software with a bundled 3/4 length guitar will be about $200, and available starting summer ’09, but at least its a start!
Now I DO wonder what Gibson thinks about this, in view of their patent portfolio that they are asserting against Activision and the court’s recent claim construction in that case…
Either way, Disney has the money to take a license or defend a lawsuit, so hopefully this product will actually see the light of day!
The Patent Arcade is sad to report that we have lost one of our own. Steve Davidson, a friend, colleague, and groundbreaking attorney in the video game and virtual world fields, passed away unexpectedly this morning, December 2, 2008. Steve completed 35 years as an attorney at Leonard, Street and Deinard law firm where he was a pioneer of technology law, speaker at law conferences around the world and arbitrator and mediator for intellectual property disputes. He was a past president of the International Technology Law Association and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. Steve and I worked together on the American Bar Association’s Special Committee for Computer Gaming and Virtual Worlds, and we valued highly his insight, suggestions, leadership, and support.
Funeral service THURSDAY (12/4/08) at 1 PM, BETH EL SYNAGOGUE, 5224 W. 26th St., St. Louis Park. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Sholom Home Auxiliary or donor’s choice. SHIVA at the family residence Thursday evening at 7 PM. Hodroff-Epstein 612 871-1234.
Our thoughts go out to Steve’s family. He will be missed by us all.
Its not every day that we get to report TRADEMARK news, so this is a refreshing change from the norm. On Nov. 11, 2008, the United States Patent & Trademark Office granted what is believed to be the first trademark registration for a user’s avatar as an indication of the source of goods & services. Registration number 3,531,683 is for Computer programming services, namely, content creation for virtual worlds and three dimensional platforms. The interesting part, however, is the mark itself (pictured at left), which is an actual avatar in the virtual world of Second Life. The mark was registered on the Principal Register, meaning that the mark inherently has secondary meaning as a source of origin of goods and/or services (i.e., the mark is not generic or descriptive). The description of the mark reads: “The color(s) black, white, green, peach and blue is/are claimed as a feature of the mark. The color blue appears in the wings and the hair accessories. The color green appears in the shirt and skirt. The color black appears in the hair, eyes, eyebrows, lips, glasses, necklace, bra, waistband, in the striped pattern on the arms and stockings, as well as the toe and calf areas of the boots. All the elements of the drawing are also outlined in black. The color white appears in the eyes, the striped pattern on the arms and legs, as highlights on the black toes of the boots, on the front of the boots, and in the laces. The color peach appears in the skin.”
As the boundary between virtual world and real world continues to blur, trademark owners are now more likely than ever to consider enforcing trademark rights across real/virtual world boundaries. It’s also nice that the USPTO considers use of a trademark in a virtual world to be a use in interstate commerce (a requirement for obtaining a federal trademark registration, because federal trademark rights originate under the commerce clause of the United States Constitution).
Score 1 for virtual world IP rights.
The stories just keep on flowing. Who knew that divorce could lead to a virtual killing, and subsequent arrest for hacking? Read the story here. In short, a 43-year-old Japanese woman killed her online husband’s digital persona because she was so angry that his avatar “divorced” her avatar in the online game Maple Story. The woman obtained the man’s login credentials while their avatars were happily “married,” and she allegedly logged in with his credentials and killed off his avatar after learning of the virtual “divorce.” She has been arrested on suspicion of hacking (i.e., logging in to a computer system without authorization).
From the AP wire:
October 21, 2008. AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – A Dutch court has convicted two youths of theft for stealing virtual items in a computer game and sentenced them to community service.Only a handful of such cases have been heard in the world, and they have reached varying conclusions about the legal status of “virtual goods.”The Leeuwarden District Court says the culprits, 15 and 14 years old, coerced a 13-year-old boy into transferring a “virtual amulet and a virtual mask” from the online adventure game RuneScape to their game accounts.”These virtual goods are goods (under Dutch law), so this is theft,” the court said Tuesday in a summary of its ruling.Identities of the minors were not released.The 15-year-old was sentenced to 200 hours service, and the 14-year-old to 160 hours.
So this blog tracks video game IP law updates, but here is a morsel that I just had to comment on: Sandra Day O’Connor (yes, THE Sandra Day O’Connor, i.e., the first woman ever appointed to the United States Supreme Court) is collaborating with Parsons The New School For Design on an online, interactive civic education project for seventh- and eighth-graders, and recently gave a presentation on the topic at the Games for Change conference (hosted at Parsons).
O’Connor said that the No Child Left Behind act of 2001 has “effectively squeezed out civics education” from public schools. “We can’t forget that the primary purpose of public schools in America is to produce citizens who have the skills and knowledge to sustain our form of government,” she said. “Public education is the only longterm solution to preserving an independent judiciary and constitutional democracy.” That’s why, O’Connor said, she wanted to work alongside James Paul Gee (a prof at UW-Madison) to create Our Courts, which will begin rolling out in September 2009.Read more here, at Wired.com.
I don’t normally track foreign video game cases, but perhaps I should. However, it does make one more category of work for me in view of all my regular work and blogging efforts. If only I had some help… In any event, a reader (thanks Tim!) passed this morsel along, and its worth sharing.
Square Enix, the company best known for the Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Kingdom Hearts titles, recently won a copyright infringement lawsuit in South Korea over Fantom Entertainment Group over unauthorized use of scenes from Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII: ADVENT CHILDREN, a CG-animated film. According to the press release, “the amount of damages awarded [300 Million Korean Won] … in this case is the largest the courts in South Korea have ever awarded in cases infringing one single work of art.” Square-Enix’s GC remarked that “Square Enix will continue to take decisive action against any infringements upon the Company’s intellectual property, recognizing that this property is one of our most crucial resources.”
The infringing subject matter at issue has to do with a scene from FFVII: Advent Children, and a music video from Korean singer Ivy in the song “Sonata of Temptation.” The Korean singer appropriated the content from Square-Enix without their permission or authorization. Below are the links to the respective videos; the similarities between the two are immediately apparent, and quite striking.
(Thanks to Tim Hsieh for finding this)
Disney has announced that its Virtual Magic Kingdom will close May 21, 2008,… for good. The VMK is no longer accepting new users, either. Disney’s VMK was launched in 2005 as a promotional tool, and turned out to be much more. About 15,000 people per day still log in and, chat, play, and explore in the VMK. The news has come as quite a shock to some, and over 10,000 people have even signed a petition asking Disney to keep it open. The shuttering of VMK, and the public response, demonstrate that even though virtual worlds and MMOGs are governed by end-user license agreements (EULAs) or Terms of Service (ToS), players inherently create a vested interest in the game, irrespective of the contractual nature of the player-provider relationship. Players make friends, create bonds, develop groups, and in some sense even come to rely on the virtual world being there the next day. So for those trying to get Disney to keep it open, I wish you luck. And when it comes to the Mouse, you’ll need it!
IBM said today that it would become the first company to host private regions of the virtual world Second Life on its own computer servers.
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The project is in testing and will go live within several weeks. This appears to be part of “the Grid,” which marks a new focus by Second Life’s parent company, Linden Lab, on providing software and services to corporate customers who want to use the virtual world for collaboration and teleconferencing with more assurances of privacy and security than is offered by Linden Labs.
As Second Life matures, they are taking some fairly customary steps, one of which is to take a more proactive role to protect their own intellectual property. In this vein, Linden Labs has created the Second Life Brand Center, which details the proper and improper use of Linden Labs trademarks. In addition, Linden Labs has created the “inSL” mark for users to use under certain conditions to signify their presence in Second Life. The Brand Center is online here.
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.
Ok, “saves lives” may be a bit of an exaggeration, but what is true is that a North Carolina man assisted passengers from an SUV he saw flip on a highway, using skills he learned playing America’s Army. Paxton Galvanek, who pulled people from vehicle after it flipped, said he learned about controlling bleeding from playing section two of the “medic” class training in America’s Army, a game developed by the Army as a recruitment tool.