U.S. Patent No. 7,584,154: Arbitration of online game results using an arbitration server and method
Issued Sep. 1, 2009, to Microsoft


The ‘154 patent provides an arbitration service for online gaming. Prior to the game, players register with an arbitration server which retains a record of each player’s game information. At the end of the game the arbitration service receives information from all the players in the game. It then compares the information it gathered with the information the player’s submitted to check for inconsistencies. If no inconsistencies are found, the information is saved and the players move on to a new game. If a player is found to have disconnected during the game, his opponent will be declared the winner, and the quitting player may be subjected to a pre-determined punishment.


Official results for an online game session are determined by an arbitration server based upon reports received from each game console participating in the game session. The reports provide results for all of the players participating in the games session. Before starting the game session, each game console registers the players using it with the gaming service, so that a player who disconnects mid-game can be identified. If the results reported differ, predefined arbitration rules are applied to determine the official results. If a game console cannot report because it is being packet bombed, a different protocol is used to transmit a data packet to the arbitration service indicating that the gaming console is being packet bombed. While not required, the arbitration server can use historical data recorded for each player to apply the predefined arbitration rules in determining the official results.

Illustrative Claim:

1. In a computing environment comprising an online game service and a plurality of online game players playing a game at remote client computers that are connected to the game service, a method for automatically arbitrating at the game service a disputed outcome because of inconsistent game outcomes reported to the game service by the plurality of players, the method comprising steps of: requiring, at the game service, at the beginning of an online game session and prior to beginning the game, each of a plurality of players to register with an arbitration server at the game service; retaining a record at the game service of each player that agreed to play at the beginning of the game session irrespective of whether each player finished the game session; creating and storing at the game service a unique ID at the beginning of a game session for that session so that each registered player for that game session is identifiable as to that game session; determining, at the conclusion of the online game session played by the plurality of registered players, results for the game session independently at each client computer of the plurality of registered players which remains connected to the game service; recording the outcome of the game session with respect to all registered players independently at each connected client computers; creating a plurality of independent records of the same game session; receiving reports at the gaming service at the conclusion of the online game session played by the plurality of registered players from at least two client computers from the plurality of the registered players, each report received from a registered player including the outcome of the game session for all registered players, as independently determined by the client computer of the registered player; comparing, automatically at the game service, the results of all reports submitted to the game service to determine if any inconsistency exists in the outcome of the game session based on the results that were reported; declaring, if the game service determines that no inconsistency exists between the reports submitted to the game service, and if results are reported by all of the registered players, the outcome of the game session based on the results found in the submitted reports; and otherwise, applying at the arbitration server of the game service, if either an inconsistency exists in the results that were reported or if not all of the initially registered players for the game session submitted a report at the end of the game session, a predefined set of arbitration rules using any previously determined trust ratings stored at the game service for any of the registered players to determine the official results for the game session; and updating at the game service a trust rating for each of the registered players, based on events relating to how the game was played by each registered player, irrespective of whether a report was submitted by a player or not.

U.S. Patent No. 6,973,430: Method for outputting voice of object and device used therefor
Issued December 6, 2005, to Sony


The ‘430 creates a voice-activated system allowing the player to control his animated character not just with the physical controller, but with his vocal commands as well. The voice processing method detects the player’s voice tone and then analyzes the meaning and the detected voice level. The system also provides a tendency detection means which detects voice tone and helps the game recognize what command is being spoken.


The present invention detects a voice tone of a player based on input voice information, and then outputs voice data having a voice tone corresponded to the detected voice tone as voice data of an object, to thereby allow the player to operate a game object through voice input.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A voice processing method comprising the steps of: detecting a voice tone based on inputted voice information; determining a plurality of groups corresponding to a plurality of voice data; classifying the detected voice tone into at least one of the plurality of groups; and outputting voice data whose voice tone corresponds to the detected voice tone; wherein the step of outputting voice data outputs voice data corresponding to the at least one group if a count of voice tones classified for the at least one group exceeds a predetermined number.

U.S. Patent No. 7,503,006: Visual indication of current voice speaker
Issued March 10, 2009, to Microsoft


The ‘006 patent provides a method for visually indicating a voice speaker during an online game. The method provides for indication symbols to be visible whenever two players meet during the game. Thus, whenever two players approach each other in the game a text or a symbol will be located above them notifying the other player whether or not the other person is capable of voice communication. One benefit of this invention is that a player has the ability to identify the speaker and subsequently privately communicate or even block the other user if he so desires.


Visually identifying one or more known or anonymous voice speakers to a listener in a computing session. For each voice speaker, voice data include a speaker identifier that is associated with a visual indicator displayed to indicate the voice speaker who is currently speaking. The speaker identifier is first used to determine voice privileges before the visual indicator is displayed. The visual indicator is preferably associated with a visual element controlled by the voice speaker, such as an animated game character. Visually identifying a voice speaker enables the listener and/or a moderator of the computing session to control voice communications, such as muting an abusive voice speaker. The visual indicator can take various forms, such as an icon displayed adjacent to the voice speaker's animated character, or a different icon displayed in a predetermined location if the voice speaker's animated character is not currently visible to the listener.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A method for visually indicating a voice speaker to a listener in a context of a computing session, comprising the steps of: (a) obtaining a speaker identifier, the speaker identifier including a user name gamertag, from voice data transmitted by the voice speaker; (b) associating the speaker identifier with a visual indicator used for indicating voice speakers; (c) selectively and temporarily, when the voice speaker is speaking, displaying the visual indicator and selectively and temporarily, when the voice speaker is speaking, displaying the user name gamertag, and when the visual indicator and the user name gamertag are displayed, displaying the visual indicator and the user name adjacent to one another, on the display to indicate that the voice speaker is speaking; (d) receiving user input selecting a players tab view that provides information on players in a current game session and in response to receiving user input selecting a players tab view: displaying a player's list including a player ID column listing gamertags for players in a current game session, and displaying a voice communication column capable of selectively displaying for each of the players in the player ID column each of: a muted icon that indicates that a local listener has muted voice communication from a selected player, a persistent bidirectional mute icon that indicates that the local listener or the network gaming service has prohibited the corresponding player from speaking to the listener and hearing any voice communication from the listener, a null icon that indicates that a corresponding player does not have a voice communicator, and a hear-only icon that indicates that a corresponding player can hear voice communication but does not have a microphone for speaking to other players.

U.S. Patent No. 7,497,779: Video game including time dilation effect and a storage medium storing software for the video game
Issued March 3, 2009, to Nintendo


The ‘779 patent describes a feature used in the Max Payne series of video games—the ability to change the laws of physics depending on the state of the game character. In these games the player has the ability to slow down the game world in order to provide his character with special abilities. Generally, when this invention has been implemented, the camera shifts to the first-person view of the character while the time is slowed. This gives the player the feeling of actually being the character as opposed to just controlling a figure on the screen.


The passage of time and/or the laws of physics may be changed depending on the state of a game character. For example, the slowing down of the game world may provide the game character with special abilities move quickly in a very short period of "game world" time.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A video game comprising: a ghost game character capable of possessing and dispossessing a plurality of different host game characters during game play wherein a game world view shifts to a view of a possessed host game character; and a time change effect for changing the rate at which time passes in the game world between a first rate when the ghost game character possesses one of the host game characters and a second rate when the ghost game character dispossesses one of the host game characters, wherein the changing between the first and second rates occurs gradually.

Ithaca Ventures k.s. et al. v. Nintendo of America Inc. et al.
United States District Court, Western District of Washington
Filed May 9, 2013
Terminated May 18, 2015

On May 18, 2015, the lawsuit between Ithaca Ventures and Nintendo was dismissed with prejudice subject to a settlement agreement.

In May 2013, plaintiffs Ithaca Ventures k.s. and Ithaca Development, LLC filed suit for patent infringement of U.S. Patent 6,624,802 against Nintendo of America Inc. and Nintendo Co., Ltd. The case was originally filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, and eventually transferred to the Western District of Washington. The ‘802 patent is entitled “Method And Device For Detecting Specific States Of Movement Of A User,” and relates to detecting body movement to generate signals in a data processing system. The patent was incorporated into the gaming device “Cybersurfer”. When approached by plaintiffs to incorporate Cybersurfer into Nintendo gaming systems, defendants claimed they were not interested.

Plaintiffs alleged that the Nintendo Wii Balance Board infringed the ‘802 patent. The Wii Balance Board detects one’s movement and position in related to the Wii gaming system.

Ithaca’s complaint alleged Nintendo’s Wii Balance Board peripherally infringed on Ithaca’s ‘802 patent. Ithaca withdrew the suit after a German court held that Nintendo’s Wii Board did not infringe on the Ithaca patent.

On May 6, 2015, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board found four claims of U.S. Patent No. 5,513,129 invalid.  The patent, owned by Princeton Digital Image Corp., is directed to controlling virtual objects in response to a music signal, used to manipulate the virtual world by interpreting music in a computer-generated environment.

On November 13, 2012, Princeton Digital filed suit against Harmonix Music Systems, Inc. and Electronic Arts, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware (Docket No. 1:12-cv-01461).  The complaint alleged Harmonix and EA infringed the ‘129 patent.  In response to the suit, Petitioner Harmonix filed an Inter Partes Review (IPR2014-00155) of claims 1, 5-6, 8-13, 15-19, and 21-23 of the ‘129 patent. The litigation was stayed pending the PTAB’s decision in the IPR.

The PTAB agreed to review claims 10, 11, 22, and 23, and found all four invalid over the cited prior art in their recent decision. There are two additional IPR suits filed against the ‘129 patent. Petitioner Ubisoft filed IPR2014-00635 against claims 1-23 of the ‘129 patent on April 15, 2014. The PTAB instituted the IPR on claims 1-13, 15-18, and 21-23. Petitioners Harmonix and Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. filed IPR2015-00271 on November 17, 2014, to request Inter Partes Review of claims 1-23 of the ‘129 patent.  The PTAB has not yet decided whether to review the claims in IPR2015-00271. Both IPRs are still pending.

We will continue to provide updates as the litigations progress.
I sometimes meet with indie/startup game developers and provide guidance and advice based on my own experiences in the industry and having worked with lots of young companies. I recently met two of the developers of Beard: Life Grows On, and wanted to share their story. 

Beard is a 2D Rogue­Like experience with a focus on exploration and discovery. You are one of a few brave enough to attempt the ascent. Climb through grassy forests, treacherous mountains, frigid ice­lands, and even glorious skies on your journey to reach the Top and become the King.  The game features
  • Tight Platforming Controls
  • Unique enemy behavior and bosses
  • Permanent death
  • Fine-tuned random level generation
  • Dozens of unique and fun items
  • 3+ regions with their own environments and terrain generation
  • Painted 2D art, with sweeping parallaxed backgrounds
  • Interesting world with a cryptic history
  • Originally composed soundtrack
  • Self-trimmed beard appearance (bows, braids, colors, etc.)
  • Dynamic quests featuring NPCs and their landmarks
  • Secrets, so many secrets...
I played the the development version, and its a fun concept.  They have a lot of work ahead, so I wanted to throw a shout out there way.  They are currently raising funds on Kickstarter, and could use your support (yes, I am a backer of theirs on Kickstarter, too).

Here's a teaser for pique your interest:

U.S. Patent No. 7,027,034: Method of moving objects on TV monitor, the computer and recording medium for executing the method
Issued April 11, 2006, to Sony


The ‘034 patent describes a process whereby a control (having one or more pressure-sensitive means) moves an object determined by an output value of the controller which indicated a pressure exerted on the button by the player. The player presses one of the pressure-sensitive buttons on the controller and depending on how hard or how long the button is pressed, a certain action is performed by the animated character.


The movement of an object due to the continuous pushing of a simple ON/OFF switch is made an easier-to-use interface for users by a method of moving an object displayed on a screen of a TV monitor of a computer having a controller which has a pressure-sensitive unit. In the method, the pushing by a user on the controller is sensed by the pressure-sensitive unit, a pressure-sensing output signal is determined depending on the pushing pressure, and the object is moved within the screen of the TV monitor depending on the magnitude of the pressure-sensing output signal of the controller.

Illustrative Claim:

1. A recording medium on which is recorded a computer-readable and executable software program that performs processing by taking as instructions an output from a controller of a computer, said controller having one or more pressure-sensitive means, wherein said software program comprises a processing program that moves an object within a screen of a monitor of the computer depending on the output of said controller, wherein a distance moved by the object is determined by an output value of said controller indicative of a highest pushing pressure exerted on at least one of said one or more pressure-sensitive means during a current operating cycle of said one or more pressure-sensitive means, wherein the movement of the object within the screen of the monitor represents an action executed in a three-dimensional space; and wherein a distance of the movement of said object on the screen of the monitor is determined depending on a rate of change per unit time of the output value of said controller.

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