3D virtual chat app maker Worlds Inc is suing Microsoft and Minecraft for patent infringement. The patent in question is for a “System and Method for Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space”.
Worlds Inc describes itself as a “leading intellectual property developer” and licensor of 3D online virtual world patents. Its best-known product is Worlds Chat, a virtual 3D chat app which allows users to talk to one another within a visual online space. Within the text of the patent, Worlds Inc says its invention provides a “highly scalable architecture for a three-dimensional graphical, multi-user, interactive virtual world system”. In essence, Worlds Inc is suing Minecraft because the latter allows 3D avatars to interact with one another in a virtual space.
In a press release, Worlds Inc CEO Thom Kidrin said the patent is a “fundamental building block” to the functionality and success of many 3D games which offer virtual chat spaces in which players can create avatars. Kidrin says Worlds Inc is “excited” by the popularity of those games, but that he wants to ensure Worlds Inc receives “just compensation” for the system and method the company developed that he says “helped make these types of products possible”.
If you’re a long-term gamer, you’re probably thinking Minecraft isn’t the only game that allows 3D avatars to interact with one another. You would, of course, be correct in this assumption, which is why Worlds Inc also pursued legal action against Activision Blizzard, presumably over World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. In 2015, however, Worlds Inc’s patent validity was challenged by Bungie, although said patent was cleared of any claims against it on that basis in January 2020. Worlds Inc has also sued Second Life for similar reasons, and NCSoft, the creators of Guild Wars.
You would be forgiven for thinking Worlds Inc is essentially a patent troll – a company that effectively exists in order to enforce patents and does not actually contribute anything based on the patent. Worlds Chat is still an active service, although it’s undeniably somewhat primitive in comparison to some of the games Worlds Inc has in its crosshairs. Minecraft has been around for several years, so it’s unclear why Worlds Inc has chosen to pursue this particular action at this moment. Granted, its litigations were on hold from 2015 while its patent was examined, but prior to that, Worlds Inc had several years to target Minecraft and never chose to do so.
We’ve reached out to several of the parties involved here for comment, including Worlds Inc, Activision Blizzard, and Microsoft. We’ll bring you more on this story as we get it, so stay tuned.
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Patent, Worlds.com, Inc., Patent infringement, Intellectual property, Patent Trial and Appeal Board
World news – CA – Chat App Maker Suing Minecraft Over Virtual Interaction Patent