When we first started writing about law firm Lerner, David, Littenberg, Krumholz & Mentlik sending letters on behalf of Treehouse Avatar Technologies to independent game development studios concerning an 858 patent (U.S Patent 8,180,858), we reached out to the signatory on those letters – Stephen F. Roth – to give him an opportunity to tells his client's side of the story. Earlier this week we wrote about four companies that received letters from the firm about the patent beginning with Bad Pug Games, makers of the online space strategy title Starpires. Later in the week we learned that the law firm had also sent letters to Minions of Mirth maker Prairie Games, A Tale in the Desert developer eGenesis, and Aces High developer HiTech Creations. All of these developers have something in common: all of their creations are fairly old and are focused on online play.
We have also learned that GameSamba recently received a similar letter from the law firm representing Treehouse Avatar Technologies. GameSamba operates a number of MMORPGs including Champions of Regnum, Remnant Knights, Jolly Grim, and Stratagamai.
Today we have a rather lengthy response from Attorney Stephen F. Roth, though it should be noted that it was written shortly after the Bad Pug Games story was published and does not address other letters sent out by the firm that we have reported on.
In his response, Mr. Roth said that his firm is proud to represent Treehouse and aid them in protecting the patent(s) it holds. He also claims that the letter to Bad Pug Games was not a form letter (we informed him that we knew of other instances of developers receiving a similar letters from his firm but he had not responded to those new questions as of this writing) and was specifically written because of the methods the game they operate uses.
You can check out the full response below:
Thank you for contacting us. We represent Treehouse Avatar Technologies in its efforts to enforce its patents, including U.S. Patent No. 8,180,858. The letter we sent to Bad Pug Games is not a form letter. Our letter was directed to the particular game system of Bad Pug, and demonstrated the applicability of the technology in the ‘858 Patent.
As you know, developers of online games commonly seek to prevent the unauthorized use of their creations by registering copyrights and trademarks. In like manner, the developers of the subject game technology sought to protect their rights in their invention by securing a patent. We are now seeking, on behalf of our client, to enforce those patent rights and to thereby secure just compensation for the unauthorized use of this patented technology. We do not seek to prevent the use of this invention by those who wish to do so. Licenses are available on a fair and nondiscriminatory basis.
While your readers may have preconceived beliefs as to the enforcement of patent rights, it is important to remember that the entire video game industry is based on the technological revolution of the last few decades, which would have not occurred without the hard work and creativity of inventors like those we represent.
We are proud to represent Treehouse Avatar Technologies and hope this assists your readers in fully understanding the legal process.
We'll let the response from Mr. Roth speak for itself, only adding that Treehouse Avatar Technologies does not appear to make any products or software – they simply own several patents. Whatever business the company conducts beyond enforcing those patents is unknown at this time.
We will continue to follow this story as it develops.