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From Leigh Jones, Associate editor at the National Law Journal:

--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).
I just wanted to take a minute and let everyone know that I will be speaking at GDC 2009 (March 25-27, 2009) this year. I'm not sure which day my presentation will be, but I will be presenting patent lawsuit case studies that are relevant to the video game industry. Let me know if you'll be in SF for GDC in March. I'd love to meet more of the people who have responded to my posts. See you there!
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!
Merry Christmas, you've been sued. It's not uncommon for plaintiffs to file lawsuits around the holidays in order to "turn the screws" on defendants, and that appears to be the case here. Worlds.com sued NCSoft (maker of City of Heroes, City of Villains, Tabula Rasa) on December 24, 2008, in the Eastern District of Texas over alleged infringement of U.S. Pat. No. 7,181,690, titled "System and method for enabling users to interact in a virtual space." Representative claim 1 reads as follows:

  1. A method for enabling a first user to interact with other users in a virtual space, wherein the first user and the other users each have an avatar and a client process associated therewith, and wherein each client process is in communication with a server process, wherein the method comprises: (a) receiving a position of less than all of the other users' avatars from the server process; and (b) determining, from the received positions, a set of the other users' avatars that are to be displayed to the first user, wherein steps (a) and (b) are performed by the client process associated with the first user.

While this claim may seem rather broad, it would appear that it has priority back to Nov. 12, 1996, so to invalidate the patent you would need to demonstrate that you did this before Nov. 12, 1996. This also means, however, that the patent will expire on November 16, 2016 (plus any patent term extension), so Worlds.com is likely trying to maximize their enforceable duration for this patent.

The case is Worlds.com Inc. v. NCSoft Corp., case number 08-508, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. We have added it to our watch list and will keep you updated of any significant progress in the case.
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