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U.S. Patent No. 6,918,769: Video game for assisting healing of the human body
Issued July 19, 2005


Summary:

The ‘769 patent seeks to help assist healing of the human body after an injury. Each medical condition is stored in the program and will include a work out which will assist healing. Whenever a person selects the ailment affect their body the video game screen will produce information about the illness as well as recommended exercises and activities to assist the body. This invention is intended to facilitate treatment of disease in the person’s body, but it should not be used as a substitute for seeking medical attention.

Abstract:

The video game includes a monitor for visual representation of a selected portion of a player's body affected by a medical condition. The information concerning the medical condition, including both its cause and effects on the body, is stored, as is a set of treatment actions for combating said medical condition, including medical treatment actions, immune system responses and spiritual actions. Also stored is the known effect of the treatment actions on the medical condition. A computer program permits the player to select and use the available treatment actions against the disease, all of which are visually produced by the program

Illustrative Claim:

1. A video game system for treatment of medical conditions of a human player's body, comprising: a first memory section for storing or receiving information concerning a medical condition to be treated, including the effect of the medical condition on a portion of the player's body affected by the medical condition; a second memory section for storing or receiving a set of treatment actions for combating said medical condition, to bring healing action to the player's body; a third memory section for storing or receiving known result/information of the treatment actions on the medical condition; and a stored video program and controller operating with said first, second and third memory sections, for providing a visual representation of the player's body, including said portion of the player's body affected by the medical condition; wherein the stored video program and controller permits a player to select one or more treatment actions and provides a visual representation of the effects of the selected treatment actions on the medical condition, in accordance with the known result information, to provide reinforcement of the effect of said selected treatment actions on the medical condition of the player.


U.S. Patent No. 6,905,414: Banning verbal communication to and from a selected party in a game playing system
Issued June 14, 2005, to Microsoft


Summary:

The ‘414 patent should appeal to any online gamer. The invention allows voice communication control by users. This means that players may selectively block voice communications with another player during current or future games. A player can block the communication by the other player for the short term (by muting him during the current game) or permanently block all communications from him. Anyone who has played online for any length of time knows how out-of-control profanity can be online. This invention should give the player the ability to control what he can hear.

Abstract:

Voice communication between players using one or more multiplayer game console is selectively controlled. A player may selectively block voice communications with another player during a current and any future games. In addition, an authorized party (e.g., a parent) can selectively preclude voice communication by a minor child by setting an option that is uploaded to an online game service service; the minor child is then precluded from voice communication on any voice console via the online game service. Also, a player may be temporarily or permanently banned from voice communication during games played through an online game service in response to complaints made by other players concerning the player's behavior in voice communication while playing games, e.g., excessive use of profanity. When a player signs on to the online game service, data are downloaded to the game console that indicate any applicable restraints on voice communication.

Illustrative Claim:

1. For use with an electronic game played on at least one multiplayer game console having a capability to provide verbal communication between players of games being played on said at least one multiplayer game console, a method for preventing verbal communication by a specific player, comprising the steps of: (a) maintaining data for each player participating in a game; (b) including an indicator in the data, said indicator referencing the specific player who is precluded from verbally communicating during at least one of: (i) a current game session played with another player who has chosen not to verbally communicate with the specific player; (ii) all games played with another player who has chosen not to verbally communicate with the specific player; (iii) all games played by the specific player over a network and using a specific online game service; and (iv) all games played by the specific player using any multiplayer game console; and (c) responding to the indicator in the data by automatically preventing verbal communication with the specific player in accord with said at least one of subparagraphs (i)-(iv) of step (b).

Acceleration Bay LLC v. Electronic Arts, Inc.
U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware
ded-1-15-cv-00282
Filed March 30, 2015

Fresh off their complaint against Activision Blizzard, Acceleration Bay has filed a new complaint alleging that Electronic Arts is infringing several networking patents in regard to their realm-spanning multiplayer in FIFA 15, NHL 15, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14, Crysis 3, and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. Plaintiff Acceleration Bay accuses Electronic Arts of infringing the same patents as the Activision Blizzard complaint, which was filed three weeks prior on March 11, 2015.

The complaint alleges that Electronic Arts uses peer-to-peer networking in their games, e.g., in FIFA’s Pro Club mode, which paragraph 30 of the complaint alleges allows “individual players from different locations to interact and communicate with each other inside FIFA 15’s gaming environment.” As in the Activision Blizzard case, Acceleration Bay will likely have to overcome an argument that the claims are directed to an abstract idea, and will have to show that the peer-to-peer networking alleged to exist in the games matches the specific mathematical models claimed in Acceleration Bay’s patents.


We’ll continue to watch this case for any interesting developments. 
SyncPoint Imaging, LLC v. Nintendo of America Inc.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
Case No. 2:15-cv-00247, Filed February 20, 2015

A new complaint alleges that Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U game consoles infringe a patent for a pointing device that generates an external cursor that interacts with a computer screen. The relevant features likely relate to how the Wii Remote controller interacts with the consoles.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,275,214, Fig. 1

The patent at issue is U.S. Pat. No. 6,275,214. Claim 1 is representative and recites:
1. A method for remotely controlling a computer having an associated screen for displaying output from the computer and having an internal cursor generated by the computer, the method comprising:
detecting at least one property of an external cursor and position of the external cursor relative to the output from the computer;
generating a command to move the internal cursor to a position on the screen corresponding to the position of the external cursor; and
generating a command for the computer based on the at least one detected property of the external cursor.
The ‘214 patent attempts to solve the problem of the complex systems needed to implement an interactive cursor. The background states that “[a] number of systems use sensors positioned on the user, on the computer, and/or on a display screen to detect movement of the user and/or a wireless pointing device relative to the sensors.” (column 1, lines 23-26). The ‘214 patent states on column 2, lines 19-30 that:
[t]he invention includes a computer connected to a projector which projects an image of the computer output onto an external screen. A camera is used to capture an image of the projected computer output. An optical pointer, such as a laser pointer, is used to generate and transmit an external cursor having various properties, such as color, shape or intensity. The image captured by the camera is used to detect and process at least one property of the external cursor to generate a corresponding command or commands to control the computer.
The ‘214 patent was licensed to PixArt, an additional defendant in the complaint. The complaint alleges that PixArt made unauthorized sales of components making use of the ‘214 patent to Nintendo of America, in violation of the licensing agreement.

While not explicitly noted in the complaint, the accused products make use of a Wii Remote to control an on-screen cursor. Our understanding is that the Wii Remote works by having two infrared LEDs mounted near a television, and tracks the orientation of the LEDs using a sensor in the Wii Remote. Given the description of systems given in the background, and the use of a camera capturing a screen in the patent’s disclosure, a major point in this case may be whether the Wii Remote generates an “external cursor” as claimed.


We’ll continue to watch this case for any interesting developments. 

Our thanks to Josh Davenport for his help with this post.

U.S. Patent No. 6,749,513: Method of the game for one to many persons on the online
Issued June 15, 2004


Summary:

The ‘513 patent provides a method for allowing players to connect online to play a chess game. The players can meet other challengers on a website where the network matches them up based on their match records. The goal is to match up players with like skill and ability so that the games can be enjoyable and challenging. The invention also calls for a system where the player can play a computer-controlled player with the feeling of playing a skilled human opponent. In this mode the computer is programmed to make moves based on the likelihood of the moves by the most gifted human players. The computer records the movements made by the highest-ranked players during their matches and mimic these moves to create a harder opponent for the human player who wishes to play the computer rather than another human being.

Abstract:

The present invention relates to a game method for allowing simultaneously playing a game of paduck, chess, Korean chess, etc. through the one-line internet in a one-to-many manner. The game method comprises the steps of: connecting by the members with the web site via the internet network, inspecting the member information including their match records and alist of matches, in which the members can participate, provided by the web site, selecting a match, in which the members want to participate, of the list of matches, and connecting with a pertinent match server; when the selected match starts, providing by the match server the members and the professional with the match screen; when the members select and input moves, extracting by the program portion a highest-ranking move which greatest majority of the members select, and searching moves which are selected by the members in a ratio almost equal to that of the highest-ranking move; applying by the match server the highest-ranking move to the match screens of the members and the professional; and when the professional selects a move, applying by the match server the move selected by the professional to the match screens of the members and the professional.

Illustrative Claim:

1. In an on-line game providing a plurality of matches, each of said plurality of matches being played in a manner of using a plurality of stones, a game method for allowing to play the game simultaneously between a professional and a plurality of members, said game method comprising: connecting said members to a match server; providing a match screen to each of said members and said professional connected to said match server, respectively; extracting a highest-ranking move which greatest majority of said members select, when each member selects a stone's move of said plurality of stones; applying said highest-ranking move to said match screen of each of said members and said professional, respectively; and applying said move selected by said professional to said match screen of each of said members and said professional, respectively, when said professional selects a stone's move of said plurality of stones.


U.S. Patent No. 6,881,149: Entertainment system, entertainment apparatus, recording medium, and program
Issued Apr. 19, 2005, to Sony

Summary:

The ‘149 patent describes a method used in video games where the main character can easily identify and target enemy characters. The invention calls for a rectangular navigation mark which is displayed over a designated monster on the screen. Whenever the main character approaches the enemy, the navigation mark signals that the player is close and begins emitting a light which draws the player’s attention to it. This invention should make the game easier by assisting the player in finding enemies to battle. Once the player has located the enemy he can then target the enemy and press buttons which will correspondingly produce an attack on the enemy.

Abstract:

When a main character enters a battle, a rectangular navigation mark is displayed over a designated monster on a display monitor. When the main character approaches the monster, the navigation mark rotates and gets smaller until it is converged into a targeting point on the display monitor. When the navigation mark is converged into a targeting point, light is emitted from the navigation mark on the display monitor. An additional attack of the main character can be performed against the monster if a user presses a decision button at the best timing, right when the light is emitted from the navigation mark.

Illustrative Claim:

1. An entertainment system comprising: an entertainment apparatus for executing various programs; at least one manual controller for inputting a manual control request of a user to said entertainment apparatus; and a display monitor for displaying an image outputted from said entertainment apparatus, said entertainment apparatus comprising: means for performing a first process of moving a navigation mark displayed on said display monitor in a predetermined direction as time advances; means for performing a second process of calculating a time difference between a point of time when said navigation mark reached a predetermined position and a point of time when said user inputted manipulation data via said manual controller; and means for generating an event and successively repeating said first process and said second process if the time difference is within a predetermined time, wherein said event is generated for changing a parameter of a single character.

Acceleration Bay LLC v. Activision Blizzard, Inc.
U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware
ded-1-15-cv-00228
Filed March 11, 2015

A new complaint alleges that Activision Blizzard is violating several networking patents in regard to their realm-spanning multiplayer in games like World of Warcraft, Destiny, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Plaintiff Acceleration Bay accuses Activision Blizzard of infringing U.S. Pat. No. 6,701,344 entitled “Distributed game environment”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,714,966 entitled “Information delivery service”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,732,147 entitled “Leaving a broadcast channel”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,829,634 entitled “Broadcasting network”; U.S. Pat. No.  6,910,069 entitled “Joining a broadcast channel” and U.S. Pat. No. 6,920,497 entitled “Connecting a broadcast channel.” The patents, dating back to July 2000, describe a method of broadcasting data by creating a mesh network among participants. According to the disclosure, previous methods relied on creating a root node through which information passes. The system described solves this problem by having each participant send information to three or more neighbors, who then send information on in kind, creating a mesh network.


U.S. Pat. No. 6,701,344 Fig. 1

The patents are all related, share figures, and incorporate one another by reference. The patent claims are directed to sending information through a plurality of connections to neighbors, who then pass the information on further. The patents were originally assigned to the Boeing Company, but the assignment was transferred to Acceleration Bay on March 6, 2015. The complaint was filed by Acceleration Bay five days later on March 11, 2015.

The problem addressed by the patents seems to stem from limitations in peer-to-peer networking solutions to multiplayer games. The patents suggest a model whereby data “hops” from one user to another, ultimately in a mesh network, rather than through a dedicated server (thus, removing server bottlenecks). The claims recite methods of information sharing in particular environments and according to particular models. For example, claim 1 of the ‘344 patent recites “A computer network for providing a game environment for a plurality of participants, each participant having connections to at least three neighbor participants... further wherein the network is m-regular… and further wherein the number of participants is at least two greater than m thus resulting in a non-complete graph.” The other patents recite similar language.

The accused products include Activision Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, Destiny, and Call of Duty game franchises. The complaint generally alleges that these game franchises make use of peer-to-peer networking to connect users in multiple “realms” for shared multiplayer experiences.

As with other video game patents recently, the claim language described may be subject to attack based on 35 U.S.C. 101 for allegedly claiming an abstract idea in a mathematical model for an arrangement of network participants, particularly in light of the heightened standards set forth by Alice. In addition, assuming the patent is valid, the plaintiff will need to show that the defendant’s communications conforms to the specific mathematical models claimed.

We’ll continue to watch this case for any interesting developments.


Thanks to Josh Davenport for his help with this post.

U.S. Patent No. 6,966,831: Method of branching flow of game
Issued November 22, 2005, to Sony


Summary: 

For all you gamers who grow tired of linear story lines without much of a story, the ‘831 patent will be appealing. The ‘831 patent provides for a story branching control method which changes the story depending upon a player’s choices in the game. The player’s successes or failures determine whether branch points exist during the predetermined period of time. The ‘831 patent gives the player an opportunity to play, explore, and control the world around him. It allows for his decisions to have a real and lasting impact on the game’s storyline and should make the game more enjoyable for the gamer.

Abstract:

Without making such a matter that, for example, a branching point where the flow of a game story is branched is notified to the user, the user is let so as to detect a timing for a hidden branching point to be present, and in dependence on whether the detection of the branching point is right or wrong, the story has a varied subsequent development.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A story branching control method for a video game whose content of a story is branched in accordance with a player's instruction, comprising the steps of: providing a branching point selectable by a user for determining a flow of the story; receiving a search instructing input for searching for the branching point; searching for the branching point for a predetermined period of time after receiving the search instructing input; determining whether the branching point exists during the predetermined period of time after receiving the search instructing input; and determining a branch destination of the story in accordance with a success or failure of determining whether the branching point exists during the predetermined period of time.

Each year we take on a Research Intern to help with ongoing case research, updating our patent database, refreshing content, and anything else that comes along.  If you're interested, please send a cover letter, resume, transcripts, and writing sample to me at my work email address.  Qualified candidates possess the following qualities:

  • Enrolled in an ABA accredited law school
  • Keen interest in video games
  • Interested to learn more about Intellectual Property law (patents, copyrights, trademarks...)
  • Does NOT have a technical background.  For reasons I won't go into here, I am unable to consider candidates who are eligible to take the patent bar.  This is a bright line rule.  No exceptions.  If you are patent eligible and are interested in a Summer Associate position, however, send your materials to dcjobs at my work's email domain.  We are still considering candidates in DC.
  • Preference will be given to candidates in the DC area.  However, we have taken on remote interns in the past.
Thanks for your interest.

U.S. Patent No. 6,829,569: Social dilemma software for evaluating online interactive societies
Issued Dec. 7, 2004, to Microsoft


Summary:

The ‘569 patent describes a social dilemma virtual world environment software which creates and uses social dilemma tests or exercises for measuring and analyzing online interactive societies. Whenever two or more people play online together (whether by voice or text communication), the software monitors the activities of the players in order to determine level of cooperation and trust between the group.

Abstract:

Social dilemma virtual world environment (VWE) software facilitates creation and usage of social dilemma tests or exercises for measuring and analyzing online interactive societies. An online interactive society arises whenever two or more people interact through a computer-based communication medium, which may include text or written communication, audio communication, still or motion video communication, or any combination of these communication formats. The social dilemma VWE software and the methodology of the present invention are capable of distinguishing the levels of cooperation and trust that are created by various interface and social factors within online interactive societies. Evaluating with social dilemma VWE software the effects of such social and interface factors on the degree of online cooperation allows such factors to be incorporated into the design and functionality of online interactive societies.

Illustrative Claim:

1. In a computer-readable medium, software objects of a social dilemma virtual world environment for evaluating an interactive online society of plural participants, the software objects comprising: one or more social dilemma exercise objects that, when executed on a computer, implement a social dilemma exercise between the participants and logs social factors and interface factors that can be evaluated to determine a level of success of the social dilemma exercise; and one or more computer-based communication objects that, when executed on a computer, selectively provide computer-based communication between participants in the social dilemma exercise.

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