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Banner & Witcoff Wins Video Game Lawsuit for World of Tanks® Developer Wargaming.net


March 25, 2013 – Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. is pleased to announce that on March 22, 2013 the United States Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered final judgment in favor of firm client Wargaming.net LLP, the developer of the massive multiplayer online game (MMOG) World of Tanks®, against the proprietors of the web site worldoftankshop.com. In view of the willful nature of the defendants’ conduct, the court—in addition to granting a permanent injunction and seizing the domain name for transfer to Wargaming.net—awarded damages in the amount of the defendants’ profits plus a penalty in the amount of triple the defendants’ profits. The court also awarded Wargaming.net its attorney’s fees and costs. 

The technology at issue in the case was the online game World of Tanks®, a military simulation game featuring mid-20th century era fighting vehicles. World of Tanks® quickly rose to become one of the most popular, massive multiplayer online games of all time, amassing over 18 million users by 2012 and earning a Guinness World Record for Most Players Online Simultaneously on One MMO Server. The defendants operated the web site worldoftankshop.com, through which they attempted to sell in-game gold and also offered “leveling” services (where a user would pay the defendants to play on the user’s behalf in order to increase the user’s attributes in the game). However, the gold the defendants sold was fraudulently obtained and often never delivered. Wargaming stepped in to put an end to the defendants’ charade and filed this lawsuit on June 4, 2012.

Nick Katselapov, Chief Business Development Officer of Wargaming.net, stated: “When we learned of worldoftankshop.com defrauding our users of real money, we immediately took action to shut them down. By taking on this lawsuit we have continued to demonstrate that we will stand up for what is right, without compromise, and spend whatever time, money, and effort is needed in order to protect our community.” Mr. Katselapov concluded, “As a result of this case, and in view of the court awarding quadruple damages, we hope that others think twice before illegally interfering with our games.”

Wargaming.net was represented by Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. DC-based attorney Ross A. Dannenberg and Chicago-based attorneys Timothy C. Meece and V. Bryan Medlock, Jr. Mr. Dannenberg is also the author of The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Video Game Development (ABA Publishing, 2011). The case was Wargaming.net LLP v. Worldoftankshop.com et al., March 22, 2013, docket no. 1:12-cv-04312-EEC, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Please direct all media inquiries to Amanda Robert at (312) 463-5465 or arobert@bannerwitcoff.com.

U.S. Patent No. 7,269,539: Dynamic weather simulation
Issued September 11, 2007, to Microsoft



Summary:

The ‘539 patent describes a flight simulation computer game which can receive meteorological conditions for a specific geographic area. The game determines the temperature and dew point for the specified geographic area from a database over the internet, and generates clouds and other weather patterns based upon the internet information. Unlike previous flight simulation games which only allow for one weather condition during a flight, the ‘539 patent allows a user to have changing weather patterns throughout a flight  by continuously rendering clouds based at least in part on actual temperature, dew point, and/or pressure data which correspond to a user’s current position in the simulated environment of the computer game.

Abstract:

Methods and systems for providing dynamic weather simulation in a computer gaming environment are disclosed. Weather may be user-specified, computer simulated, or based on periodic updates of real-world weather conditions. To dynamically simulate weather while conserving computer resources, a weather simulation manager may periodically alter temperature and dew point values and determine whether to render or dissipate clouds based on the current temperature and dew point values. Weather may be morphed back to real-world weather as updated weather is retrieved from a database over the Internet. The weather simulation manager may simulate weather independently for each of a plurality of geographic cells, thus allowing different weather to appear in different directions during game play. Cloud dissipation may be based on increasing a transparency value of sprites located at the outer edges of each cloud, and gradually working towards the center of the cloud until the cloud has disappeared completely.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A method for dynamically simulating weather in a computer game, comprising: starting a game play portion of the computer game; receiving meteorological conditions for a specified geographic area in a simulated environment of the computer game; altering cloud formations based on the received meteorological conditions, said altering comprising: determining whether clouds should form and, if so, rendering a layer of clouds, and determining whether clouds should dissipate and, if so, dissipating a layer of rendered clouds; and repeating the receiving and altering steps in intervals during the game play portion of the computer game, wherein said dissipating step further comprises gradually increasing a transparency level at edges of each cloud in the cloud layer, and iteratively increasing a transparency level closer to a center of each cloud as the farther out portions of the cloud fades from view due to its increased transparency level.


U.S. Patent No. 7,288,028: Method and apparatus for quickly joining an online game being played by a friend
Issued Oct. 30, 2007, to Microsoft


Summary:

The ‘028 patent seeks to make it easier to join friends during online gameplay. With this invention, the player has the option to select “Quick Join,” which causes the online service to instantly place the player in the game with his friends. The player also has the option to pull up his friends list and select a specific friend to invite to a game. Depending on the type of game his friend is playing the player will either be placed immediately in the game or he will have to wait for the current game to finish before he is placed in the game next round.

Abstract:

The user who has signed onto an online gaming service can be immediately joined in playing an instance of a game with a friend appearing in the user's friends list. After signing onto the online service, the user has the option to select "Quick Join," causing the online service to immediately join the user in an instance of the game having an opening for the user and also being played by the first player found in the friends list. Alternatively, the user may selectively display the friends list and select a specific friend who is online, before activating the Quick Join option to immediately join in playing within the friend's game. Depending upon the type of game, the user will either be immediately placed into play or joined to a portion of the game that enables the user to select options, so that the user can participate in the next session of the game.

Illustrative Claim:

1. In a computer gaming network that includes one or more gaming servers connectable through a network with a plurality of game consoles, a method of enabling a user of one of the game consoles to immediately join, at the user's option and without the user having to first access any particular gaming friend's online status, any of a plurality of the user's remote gaming friends in playing an online game, the method comprising steps for: a user of one of the game consoles first logging online so as to access a gaming server in order to join in playing a selected game online; the gaming server then causing a user interface to be displayed to the user at the user's gaming console, the user interface presenting a plurality of options for initiating or joining in an online game for the selected game, at least one of said options comprising a quick join option which, when selected by the user, in turn causes the gaming server to perform steps for: automatically causing the gaming server to launch a search of a friends list previously created and stored for the user in order to find the first friend in that list who is online playing the selected game; and thereafter, either i) enabling the user to select game options prior to joining in the online game, or ii) permitting the user to immediately join the first friend in playing the online game that is going on.


U.S. Patent No. 7,204,758: Video game apparatus and control method thereof, and program of video game and computer-readable recording medium having program recorded thereon
Issued Apr. 17, 2007, to Square Enix


Summary:

The ‘758 patent describes a video game where player is rewarded during a battle. The player is awarded points depending on actions he takes. Higher points will be awarded for killing the enemy than for an insubstantial hit during the fight. The invention also has a feature whereby the player can receive items whenever they defeat an enemy. Thus, players are encouraged to fight the enemies on each stage instead of bypassing them to complete the level sooner. Some items suggested vary from small to large medicinal items which increase the player’s health recovery depending on which item the player uses.

Abstract:

A video game determines a reward acquired by a player character that has won a battle. If the player character inflicts damage of at least a predetermined value on an enemy character and kills the enemy character, the experience points acquired by the player character increase and the number of acquired items is also increased. If damage inflicted by the player character on the enemy character, immediately before the player character defeats the enemy character, is at least the predetermined value, then the reward of the battle is thus modified favorably for the player.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A computer-readable recording medium having a program of a video game recorded therein, at least one predetermined parameter assigned to a player character in said game being changed when the player character defeats an enemy character, wherein upon being read by a computer, the program of the video game causes the computer to execute: comparing an amount of damage inflicted on the enemy character by the player character, immediately before the player character defeats the enemy character, with a threshold value previously set for the enemy character; changing the parameter stored in a storage device according to a first condition, when the enemy is defeated by an amount of damage that is less than the threshold value; and changing the parameter stored in the storage device according to a second condition that is different from the first condition, when the enemy is defeated by an amount of damage that is at least the threshold value.


U.S. Patent No. 7,349,830: Weather profiles
Issued March 25, 2008, to Microsoft


Summary:

The ‘830 patent, issued to Microsoft, can be used for its popular Flight Simulator game. The patent allows for weather simulation in a video game and allows for dynamic weather scenarios to a computer user based on the player’s location. The patent also calls for a time function which will help determine the weather pattern for the user’s current location. The software represented here also allows for a player to move a certain weather pattern an insert it into any geographical location during its flight path. For example, the user could take the weather associated with a hurricane from one area and place it along a flight path in another geographical location.

Abstract:

Methods and systems for providing dynamic weather simulation in a computer gaming environment are disclosed. Weather may be user-specified, computer simulated, based on periodic updates of real-world weather conditions, or based on a pre-existing or user-created weather profile. A weather profile may include a data structure that stores weather over a location neutral geographical space, which may subsequently be applied dynamically to any selected geographical space in a simulated environment. To dynamically simulate weather while conserving computer resources, a weather simulation manager may periodically alter temperature and dew point values and determine whether to render or dissipate clouds based on the current temperature and dew point values.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A tangible computer readable medium, other than a modulated data signal, storing computer executable instructions, which when executed perform a computer-assisted method of graphically depicting weather defined in a pre-existing weather profile to a simulated geographical environment in a computer game, comprising: a) a computer reading a data structure storing predefined location neutral weather information, wherein the data structure comprises weather information for each of a plurality of cells in a multi-dimensional array, and wherein the weather information for each cell comprises a plurality of layers of weather information; b) the computer applying the weather information read from the data structure to a grid within the simulated geographical environment of the computer game based on a user's starting position within the computer game; and c) the computer graphically depicting weather in the computer game based on a current position of the user within the grid.

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