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Yahoo Sues Xfire For Patent Infringement

12:51 pm on Feb 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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The basis of the complaint, filed last week in a U.S. District Court in Northern California and served on Xfire representatives two days ago, alleges that Xfire is willfully infringing on a patent controlled by Yahoo.

The patent, referred to as the '125 patent for the last three numbers of U.S. Patent No. 6,699,125, was granted to two then-Yahoo employees, Brian Gottlieb and Chris Kirmse, on March 2, 2004. As is typical, ownership of inventions by employees remains with the corporation the employees work for. Such ownership rights are usually sealed in hiring contracts signed by employees when they're hired.

11:38 pm on Feb 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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scary part.

"Lawyers familiar with patent law say a case like this could cost up to $2 million to defend and take up to two years to fully adjudicate. "

Unless you have money, any large company can shut you down, fault or no fault.

12:23 am on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Welcome to America.
1:29 am on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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So Kirmse works for Yahoo and gets a patent, making it Yahoos patent. He quits, and a few years later he becomes a VP of Xfire. They start to develop software that is described in the Patent he received. He should have known better. Xfire will either be bankrupt or owned by Yahoo soon. I vote for owned by Yahoo.
3:39 am on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Yea, but from what I understand, although the patent and inventions are retained by the company, the knowledge gained by the employee stays with the employee.

This should be interesting.

5:41 am on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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"..the GameProwler instant messenger application--as one that "allows users to use a game server in connection with a messenger server to permit 'buddies' to know when other 'buddies' are playing games online, and easily join such games.."

I don't know about you guys, but I'm getting sick and tired of hearing about huge corporations claiming patent rights on "inventions" that clearly have prior art... they throw in some blue-moon language and call it their own.

"Interchat" was a basic TBBS/TDBS feature that allowed players to, along with the host systems' user log be able to;

1. allow game players (and other users) to see who else was online.

2. to see who wanted to play a particular game.

3. to chat with others while playing games. Many games had "chat rooms" and "private chat" (the forerunner of "instant messenging").

And there were comparable systems for every major (no pun) BBS system and many of the obscure ones.

Most of it survived to the internet, so it can't be the medium... and "a message is a message" so it can't be the content... so what's the patent about?

The abstract from the U.S. Patent says:

A game and messenger client-server system is provided including a plurality of game clients, a game server, a plurality of messenger clients, and a messenger server. The game server includes logic to operate a multiplayer game using inputs from and outputs to an active game set of game clients, wherein game clients other than those in the active game set can join an active game by supplying the game server with a reference to the active game. Additionally, logic is included for coupling a game client to a messenger client to allow the game client to send the messenger client data used to initiate joining a game, whereby a message sent by the messenger client includes the data used to initiate joining a game. Also, logic is included for initiating a join of a game at an invitee client, using data received in a message to the invitee.

I claim a patent on using mixed case text while chatting and I'm sUinG yAhoo!

...then the closing article of the Patent says:

The above description is illustrative and not restrictive. Many variations of the invention will become apparent to those of skill in the art upon review of this disclosure. The scope of the invention should, therefore, be determined not with reference to the above description, but instead should be determined with reference to the appended claims along with their full scope of equivalents.

It's nice to claim all future variations of a patent, even when you didn't think of the original idea, and have "nothing new" to patent, (except some hooks to Windows Registry Keys), and a proprietary 2nd rank "messenger program" that is based on 20 year old BBS technology.

7:42 am on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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And I always wondered why Gamespy didn't offer full-blown chat features.

This is pretty sad. Xfire allows so many gamers to connect with each other, would hate to see them be taken down because of this.

5:16 pm on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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the knowledge gained by the employee stays with the employee

Most of these agreements have intellectual property clauses.

10:33 pm on Feb 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Re: Yahoo! Xfire game server / chat server patent law suit;

Citing U.S. Patent #6,699,125, Kirmse, et al, March 2, 2004 Filed for July 2, 2001, and;

U.S. Patent application #20050027382 filed September 18, 2003, (appears to be revision of the "125" patent which omits items #2-7 of the original patent).

Patent #6,699,125 should be invalidated based on prior art and application #20050027382 should be denied based on prior art including:

1. "MUDs" (multi-user doors) for BBS systems where the user engages in a game or other online activity and can "chat" or instantly send messages to another user. Simialr to patent #6,699,125, control of users chatting and playing games (where Yahoo! messenger WINDOW Registry Keys are used to coordinate paly and chat), these games and chat features coordinate through the "userlog" where verified users are granted varying levels of access (ie- may play games, may chat, may "page" others, etc..).

Some examples:
CHATJACK.zip - Chat Jack (Blackjack)
CHATROU.zip - Chat Roulette
Euchre.zip - Chat Euchre
TICTAC.ZIP - Tic Tac Toe
tws.zip - The Wild Side!
and countless other "chat / games".
(source: tbbs.org)

Note: these games were designed originally for serial communication via dial-up or hardwired connection but were ultimately used "on the internet" via TelNet and dedicated serial to TCPIC connections allowing both "dial up" and internet users to utilize the game server and chat server which were both tied to the system's user registration system to authenticate and connect users based on permissions.

2). Worlds.com was granted a US Patent (No. 6219045) entitled 'Scalable virtual world chat client-server system'.... Their parent company, Worlds, Inc. has been in the Web 3D business since 1995 when they developed a virtual worlds program called Worlds Chat. Worlds, Inc. first applied for their world chat patent in 1996. (source: [e3dnews.com...] )

This took me about 15 minutes of research... I'm sure any good lawyer could do better for less than $2million.

[edited by: martinibuster at 12:10 am (utc) on Feb. 7, 2005]
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