Activision Blizzard has been sued by Worlds Inc. for allegedly infringing a patent related to virtual worlds, GamesIndustry reports.
The game publishing giant’s World of WarCraft and the Call of Duty series infringes Worlds Inc.’s patent by using “a system and method for enabling users to interact in a virtual space”, the company claims.
World Inc.’s CEO Thom Kidrin said, “Technologies created by Worlds have helped the businesses of virtual worlds gaming and the sale of virtual goods to grow into a multi-billion dollar industry.”
“While we are pleased to see that the gaming industry and its rapidly growing customer base have enthusiastically embraced our patented technologies, we deserve fair compensation for their use,” he added.
This is not the first time that the small firm Worlds Inc. has sued another company over this patent.
In 2008, they filed a lawsuit against NCSoft for their MMORPG, City of Heroes. The case was eventually settled out-of-court in 2010 for an undisclosed sum.
Worlds Inc. claims to be the pioneer in 3D virtual communities and rich immersive environments, being launched in 1994.
While it seems strange that they waited seven years (in the case of WoW) and eight years in the case of CoD before starting their lawsuit, NCSoft’s settlement suggests that they might have something to their claims.
If Worlds Inc. wins the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, they will have a stronger case to press similar suits against other MMO publishers in the market.
The case could also get game developers rushing to file patents on their products.
Traditionally, game developers have not been too active on the patent front, unlike other software development sectors.
Thus, this lawsuit could indeed be a game changer (pun intended). Refer to this article by GamesIndustry for more information on the myths of patenting in the gaming industry.