Treehouse Sues Turbine over Patent Issued in 2012

October 11, 2012 -

Ontario-based web services company Treehouse is getting ready to rock and troll. The company, who was awarded a vague patent (United States Patent No. 8,180,858) for the "Method And System For Presenting Data Over A Network Based On Network User Choices And Collecting Real-Time Data Related To Said Choices" (or the 858 patent as they refer to it in their lawsuit) has decided to sue Turbine in Delaware for violating the patent with its game Dungeons & Dragons Online. Interestingly enough, the patent was awarded on May 15, 2012.

The company claims that Turbine's games violate its patent because its games - Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online - allow "tallying the number of times the selected character attribute(s) have been selected by users of the game."

The company seeks a "permanent injunction enjoining Turbine with its respective officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and all persons in active concert or participation with any of them who receive actual notice of the order by personal service or otherwise, from infringing the ‘858 Patent;' an "award of damages adequate to compensate Treehouse for the infringement by Turbine along with pre-judgment and post-judgment interest;" and "reasonable attorneys’ fees and expenses."

Considering that both games have been around for a very long time and plenty of other games use the methods mentioned in the patent, it would be difficult to see Treehouse prevailing in this case..

You can read the entire filing on Scribd.


Comments

Re: Treehouse Sues Turbine over Patent Issued in 2012

Some quick research found that Treehouse Avatar Technologies is likely shell company for Acacia Research.  They share a director (Christian Dubuc) and Acacia has been very actively going after game developers in other shell companies.  They are known as one of the more insidious (and deep pocketed) patent trolls out there.  This is a company that patented sending medical images over the internet and has been litigating against many targets.  

Re: Treehouse Sues Turbine over Patent Issued in 2012

I just got a threatening legal packet in the mail today from Treehouse trying to extort money out of my small game game for violation of this patent.  There was no specifics to my company or the game (other than the name and address) so I'm assuming they've mass mailed these out to small game developers looking for some easy victories.  

There very general claim violations include things like "storing character attribute data in a database"  Slight prior art issue there have a funny feeling games have been storing character data in database for decades for 2010 when the patent was filed.  It also makes claims against things the game we publish doesn't even do.

I'm sure plenty of other developers are getting the same letters from them right now and I hope they stand up to their mafia like tactics.

These guys are complete scum...

Re: Treehouse Sues Turbine over Patent Issued in 2012

<reads the basics of that patent>

That definition can apply to any network required software. A database program that a company uses can be defined as that.

Interesting that they went after Turbine. If they were aiming for a precedent there's a number of lower risk companies to go after.

Re: Treehouse Sues Turbine over Patent Issued in 2012

It looks like that's what they are doing now.  They've decided I'm a nice low risk target for their patent trolling bullshit.

Re: Treehouse Sues Turbine over Patent Issued in 2012

Suing a company for violating a patent that didn't exist yet.  Interesting strategy.

Hear that kids?  Patent something that already exists, sue and retire early!

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Treehouse Sues Turbine over Patent Issued in 2012

To be fair, they filed for the patent in 2010 and it was just this year granted. When a patent is granted, you get rights to all uses since filing.

Re: Treehouse Sues Turbine over Patent Issued in 2012

"When a patent is granted, you get rights to all uses since filing."

That's pretty crap.  Even so, both games game out years before filing.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Treehouse Sues Turbine over Patent Issued in 2012

Yes, and Dungeons and Dragons Online came out in 2006. They're essentially suing Turbine over their prior art.

I'm trying to think of an explanation other than "the plaintiffs are the biggest pack of idiots not based out of Washington, DC", but all I can come up with is "badly planned extortion attempt".

Re: Treehouse Sues Turbine over Patent Issued in 2012

There's a special circle in hell for patent trolls.  They'll get what's coming to them.

Re: Treehouse Sues Turbine over Patent Issued in 2012

I wish companies would sue the US Patent Office for issuing technology related Patents to companies after the technology has already been used... Would at least make the US PO from blatantly ignoring vagaries like this... So dumb.

 
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