Blizzard targeted in MMO patent dispute

WOW and Second Life next if NCsoft loses.

Confirming our suspicions, Worlds.com has revealed that it intends to sue Blizzard and Linden Labs if its patent suit against NCsoft is successful.

Worlds.com has a patent that describes virtually any 3D MMO or virtual world, and dates back to the mid-1990s. It selected NCsoft as its first target for a lawsuit, but Worlds.com chief Thom Kidrin told the Silicon Alley Insider that he would "absolutely" pursue cases against World of Warcraft and Second Life, and any MMO operator that's not prepared to pay licensing fees.

NCsoft has likely been selected as the first target due to its US office in Austin, Texas - where as a foreign defendant in an intellectual property case, it will be at a distinct disadvantage. Even if Worlds.com is successful and has precedent, it may have a tougher time on Linden and Blizzard's Californian home turf.

Kidrin explained the origin of the patent: Starbirght World, a Steven Spielberg-backed charity initiative providing an online social network for seriously ill children. Starbright patents then passed from the original creators to Worlds.com.

Sick kids and Steven Spielberg surely adds up to the ultimate smokescreen for any opportunistic lawsuit. We'll keep an eye on further developments.

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