MMO giants next in PalTalkâ??s legal crusade

MMO giants next in PalTalkâ??s legal crusade

By Rob Crossley

September 17th 2009 at 11:01AM

Activision Blizzard, Sony Online Entertainment and Turbine in new PalTalk lawsuit

A common online multiplayer technology is at the centre of a lawsuit involving some of the world’s biggest game publishers.

MMO publishers Sony Online Entertainment, Turbine and Activision Blizzard are the targets in a new infringement lawsuit lodged by PalTalk Holdings.

PalTalk owns several patents to the process of sharing data between PCs during online play. The patents concern the process of allowing all PCs to see the same occurrences in an online world.

If a citadel explodes in an MMO, for example, all PC users need to see it explode at the same time. However, developers need to be cautious about how they fulfil this requirement, as one such approach is the property of PalTalk Holdings.

Halo 3’s online multiplayer components have already been the subject of a PalTalk lawsuit. Earlier this year, Microsoft paid PalTalk an undisclosed sum to use the patents.

Prior to its payout, both companies had taken their patent dispute to a Texan court in a $90 million lawsuit, before Microsoft backed out mid-trial.

Microsoft’s payout did not set a legal precedent - in that it did not prove that PalTalk’s patents hold up in court – yet Microsoft’s payout and subsequent licensing of the patents does allege that PalTalk has a strong case to put.

Texas is set to be the same state in which PalTalk is set to meet lawyers for Sony Online, Turbine and Activision Blizzard.

US District Court of Marshall, Texas, is described as one of the nation’s most popular venues for patent lawsuits, according to a Boston.com report.