It has been a while since we wrote about Worlds, Inc. and their patents directed to receiving position information for avatars in virtual spaces. When we last wrote, it appeared as though their lawsuit against Activision was dead in the water due to missing out on a huge chunk of potential damages due to late correction of a priority claim. However, the lawsuit continues as Worlds seeks to recover at least damages since the 2013 correction of the patent and through the likely expiration of the patent earlier this year. A claim construction order issued in that case on June 26, 2015.

However, Activision is not the only party currently engaged with Worlds. Bungie filed five Inter Partes Review requests with the USPTO in May and June of this year arguing that the same Worlds' patents asserted against Activision were invalid. The five patents are:

  • 8,082,501
  • 8,145,998
  • 7,493,558
  • 7,945,856
  • 7,181,690

The USPTO has now issued decisions instituting each of the IPRs. That is, the USPTO has determined that Bungie has demonstrated a "reasonable likelihood" that they would prevail on at least one of the claims challenged in each patent.

For example, in the decision regarding the '501 patent, the USPTO stated that Bungie had shown that the claims were either anticipated or obvious over several documents, including a patent from 1993 that was seen to disclose all the limitations recited in the independent claims.

One issue raised by Worlds in response to the IPRs was that Activision was an unnamed real party in interest due to Bungie's collaboration with Activision on Destiny. This could have led to dismissal of the IPR requests as improper. However, Worlds did not convince the USPTO that Activision had control over the proceedings.

For reference, claim 1 of the '501 patent recites:

1. A method for enabling a first user to interact with other users in a virtual space, each user of the first user and the other users being associated with a three dimensional avatar representing said each user in the virtual space, the method comprising the steps of:
customizing, using a processor of a client device, an avatar in response to input by the first user;
receiving, by the client device, position information associated with fewer than all of the other user avatars in an interaction room of the virtual space, from a server process, wherein the client device does not receive position information of at least some avatars that fail to satisfy a participant condition imposed on avatars displayable on a client device display of the client device;
determining, by the client device, a displayable set of the other user avatars associated with the client device display; and
displaying, on the client device display, the displayable set of the other user avatars associated with the client device display.
We will continue to report on any interesting developments.

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Ross Dannenberg

Scott Kelly

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