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Posts with tag lawsuit

Activision-Blizzard sues over StarCraft II cheats

Activision Blizzard logo
On May 19th Blizzard filed a suit with the Central District of California over the practice of players who create cheats for multiplayer mode in StarCraft II. In particular, the suit names the "ValiantChaos MapHack" as one of, but not the only, hack being targeted by the litigation. The suit claims that the cheats undermine the nature of multiplayer gameplay and "disrupt or impair the online experience for purchasers of the computer game."

The suit targets the programmers behind the hacks, demanding compensation for the copyright infringement inherent in the cheats' modifications of the game. As noted in the BBC report, this lawsuit recalls a similar one from 1990s, wherein Nintendo unsuccessfully sued the creators of the Games Genie, also on the grounds of copyright violation. That lawsuit, however, took place in the days before widespread online multiplayer gaming environments, and it will be interesting to see how much, or how little, this case echoes that one.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, StarCraft 2

Wizards of the Coast sues Cryptozoic over Hex TCG


After Cryptozoic stopped producing the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game -- and around the time Blizzard announced Hearthstone -- the company turned its attentions to its own digital card game, Hex: Shards of Fate. Hex wound up with $2.2 million in Kickstarter funding and is currently in alpha testing. But the game's success hasn't been missed by the biggest player in TCGs, and Wizards of the Coast has sued Cryptozoic for willfully infringing on its intellectual property -- which is to say Magic: The Gathering. Wizards accuses Cryptozoic of copying cards, plot, elements, circumstances, theme, mood, creatures, pace, play sequence, and flow from Magic.

Hex is markedly similar to Magic -- though many trading card games draw their inspiration from that base -- and even the community has commented on it. In fact, the body of the lawsuit copies substantial material from a blog post on Threshold: The Hex Podcast comparing the two games as well as quoting forum posts in which commenters have noted the same. If this seems like a weak source of evidence to you, then you're in agreement with Cryptozoic, which has come out stating that the lawsuit is meritless and it intends to fight.

If Wizards wins this round, we have to wonder what it means for other card games like our recent favorite Hearthstone.

Filed under: News items

Blizzard scores a victory against patent troll Worlds, Inc.

Activision Blizzard has won a victory over Worlds Inc, which has been leveraging its patents on basic virtual world principles -- like the ability to chat with other users in a virtual environment -- to sue MMO companies like Blizzard and Second Life makers Linden Labs. Patent trolling can be big business and, indeed, seems to be the primary business that Worlds Inc is in these days. However, they may be running out of luck in this case, as the latest ruling suggests the patents are invalid because they describe things already in public use before they were filed.

However, this ruling is certainly not the end of the ongoing legal drama involving Worlds, which has lauded the ruling as a clear victory for itself. But with the Supreme Court currently considering whether to take stronger action against patent trolls, which may make it easier for sued companies to recover legal fees from patent trolls (and thus deter these sorts of lawsuits), it may be harder for Worlds to find traction on such lawsuits in the future. We'll have to keep watching to see just what happens between Activision Blizzard and Worlds, but it seems unlikely that they'll manage to recover from this ruling.

If you want all the details, check out the writeup on Gigaom or, if you're fluent in legalese, read the decision yourself.

Filed under: News items

Blizzard wins victory in legal battle over security breach

Blizzard has emerged (mostly) victorious in the case of Bell v. Blizzard Entertainment, which was filed in response to the Battle.net security breach last sumer. Though no financial data was taken, the lawsuit claimed the data breach harmed customers and targeted authenticators, which it said were required for players to have "even minimal protection for their sensitive personal, private, and financial data." From the beginning, Blizzard has said that the suit was without merit, and the court has dismissed 6 of the lawsuit's 8 claims, saying that the plaintiffs failed to to prove that they were harmed by the data breach and that Blizzard did not misrepresent its security practices.

The part of the lawsuit that moves forward relates to Blizzard failing to fully disclose the importance of an authenticator to users, though Blizzard is certain to continue the fight. As in most legal battles, the situation is more complicated than can be explained in a couple of paragraphs: if you're interested in digging further, you can read the full text of the complaint or legal analysis by Mayer-Brown.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Account Security

Blizzard Responds: Security lawsuit without merit

Blizzard responds Security Lawsuit without merit


Law firm Carney Williams Bates Pulliam & Bowman, PLLC have filed a class action lawsuit against Blizzard Entertainment, and its parent company, Activision Blizzard, on behalf of "millions of American customers who have been harmed by Blizzard's negligent and deceptive practices related to its customers' account security".

Representing Carney Williams, Hank Bates, in the law firm's press release, summarising the complaint, states that:


"Blizzard requires all of its customers to establish accounts with its online gaming service, Battle.net, but it fails to disclose to consumers, prior to purchase, that they'll need additional products called authenticators to keep information stored in these accounts safe. Even though the company frequently receives complaints about accounts being hacked, it simply tells the customer to attach an authenticator to their account. Blizzard doesn't inform people about this requirement when they purchase the game, and that amounts to a deceptive trade
practice. Worse still, Blizzard has failed to maintain adequate levels of security for its
customers, time and again, which led to a significant loss of private data in Blizzard's
safekeeping."

Blizzard has responded to the allegations raised by Carney Williams &co., stating that "This suit is without merit and filled with patently false information, and we will vigorously defend ourselves through the appropriate legal channels."

See Blizzard's full response after the break.

Read more →

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Former GM sues over baby murloc voice and song

A bit of an odd story has been floating around the WoW community today, revolving around former GM Amanda Lewis and her claims against Blizzard for alleged copyright infringement and voice misappropriation. Lewis claims that Blizzard, without permission, used her voice and songs in creating the baby murlocs, the adorable squeaky versions of the terrifying fish-man abominations. The complaint seeks damages for the misuse of her works.

While we don't have much more information other than the bit that's been reported, one of the key factors could be the clauses in her contract governing what happens to things employees create while on the job. Many companies have such invention policies in place to capitalize on employees' ideas and give them a place to go with said ideas to potentially make them real.

The interesting part of the complaint -- and for me, the most heartwarming, because you could tell a lawyer wrote it -- is that Lewis is claiming the baby murloc has become the de facto mascot of World of Warcraft. What do you guys think? When I think Warcraft, I think orcs, humans, war, yadda yadda -- not baby murlocs. If you're interested in a bit more of an in-depth analysis, look forward to my Lawbringer column next week.

Here's hoping for a quick settlement or summary judgmgrlrglrglrlglgglrrrllll.

Filed under: News items

The Lawbringer: This MMO is too addictive! I'm suing!


Welcome to The Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly guide to the intersection between law and the World of Warcraft. I'm Amy Schley, newly graduated law student and your tour guide through the quirky world of copyrights, contracts and crazy lawsuits.

One of the many joys of going to law school is that you know every lawyer joke known to man, and your friends and family feel a need to inform you of the latest crazy lawsuit. While nothing will ever top Mayo v. Satan and His Staff for sheer silliness (by both plaintiff and judge), a new case making the rounds comes close. Someone is suing an MMORPG for being addictive.

That's right. A Mr. Craig Smallwood, former player of Lineage II, is suing NCsoft for negligently creating an addictive game, for failing to warn him that the game was addictive and for blocking him from the game, causing him to suffer severe withdrawal symptoms that prompted hospitalization and thrice-weekly counseling sessions. More facts and analysis after the break; all information comes from the judge's recent opinion.

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Filed under: The Lawbringer

Blizzard and The9 fined $212,000 for copyright infringement in China

From Worlds in Motion we've learned that Blizzard has suffered yet another setback in China.

As reported by JLM Pacific Epoch, the Beijing Municipal Higher People's Court has found that The9, Blizzard's onetime partner in China violated the copyrights of five Chinese fonts owned by Founder Technology Group. The9, Blizzard, and two other parties have been ordered to pay a fine of RMB 1.45 million, or approximately US$ 212,000. The9 has appealed the order to the People's Supreme Court. (Lovely place by the way. Just watch the steps.)

To recap, Blizzard had licensed World of Warcraft to The9 to distribute the game in China. Apparently, in localizing the game for China, The9 used five fonts for the Chinese text in game. However, these fonts are owned by Founder Technology Group, who sued The9 and Blizzard for copyright infringement in 2007, requesting damages of RMB 100M, or about US$ 13M. In September 2007, when The Burning Crusade was released in China, all of the Founder Technology Group fonts were replaced with fonts that Blizzard had permission to use "as a gesture of goodwill to the gaming community" "without any admission of liability."

Given the rocky relationship between The9 and Blizzard, it is likely that this fine will be yet another bone of contention between the companies and that responsibility for this fine may end up being decided in yet another court battle. Stay tuned!

Filed under: News items, The Lawbringer

Blizzard files lawsuit against private server

We've talked about private servers on the site here before, but in case you haven't heard the term: they're unofficial servers, very much against WoW's Terms of Use, that are run by companies other than Blizzard. They're shady as get out -- some make you pay (and these are not people you'd ever want to give any credit card information to), some will delete or change characters on a regular basis, and many times they're created just so whoever's running them can mess around with GM powers, and cheat with any items they want.

So you can see why Blizzard would want them shut down, and that's exactly what they're trying to do with this lawsuit filed in the California Central District Court against a company called "Scapegaming" that runs at least one private WoW server (and they've apparently been running microtransactions in-game -- selling in-game items for "donations" of money). The law firm working for Blizzard, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, also worked on the "Bnetd" case, which was another piece of unofficial server software that allowed players to play off of Blizzard's Battle.net setup.

The complaint lists copyright infringement as the cause, which means they're probably using the same argument targeted at other private servers in the past. We'll keep an eye on this, but it's very likely Blizzard will win this one unopposed, and Scapegaming (or at least just their WoW server) will get shut down for good.

Thanks, Phenom!

Filed under: Realm Status, Blizzard, News items, Hardware

Glider down for the count

We knew this would happen after that last big Glider decision, but the judge's ruling has turned into action, and Glider has suspended their sales and operations. They're still hoping to bring it back up at some point -- there's still an appeals process to go through -- but that seems unlikely. Keep in mind that using Glider or any other botting software like it is a breach of Blizzard's terms of service and will most likely get you banned from the game.

The company also has a FAQ up (which includes a PDF link to the latest ruling), and they sound hopeful there as well, saying that they'll know in a little while whether they'll be "back within a month or... gone for at least a year." Just in case you have (against Blizzard's rules) purchased and used Glider and are concerned that your information is being passed on to Blizzard, worry not -- they say that the ruling doesn't require them to give up any sales information, just shut down their operations and sales of the program.

As Blizzard posted last month, they see this as a clear victory for both the company and players of the game -- Glider undermined both the wishes of the designers and the experience of other players in the game. Blizzard apparently feels the battle is over, while we're sure Glider is planning to continue the legal fight for as long as it takes. It seems unlikely that we'll see this software (or any bot software) back up for sale legitimately again, but if we do, we'll let you know.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tricks, Blizzard, News items, Hardware

Account security is your responsibility, not Blizzard's

PlayNoEvil recently published an article explaining why they think it is that hackers target gamers by stealing their passwords and other account information.

While there is some truth in the premises offered, articles like this one only serve to fuel conspiracy rumors and encourage players to think of themselves as victims rather than take responsibility for their own account security.

Gaming companies do place some of the blame for a compromised account on the account holder, and for good reason. The hacker certainly didn't gain access to your computer because of their actions, and their computers that store your information are as yet untouchable.

The browsers you use, sites you visit, firewall settings, anti-virus software and update practices are just a few of the ways that you contribute to your own hacking experience.

Sharing your account information with your lover, best friend and mother may sound safe, but you don't control the security of their computers, or their friends' computers. The majority of people I know who have been hacked signed into their accounts on their sibling's computer or a publically shared machine.

In fact, NASA ended up with a keylogger targeted at gamers on the International Space Station. It traveled aboard on the laptop of one of the astronauts. You just can't trust any computer that isn't your own.

It may be hard to hear, but a hacked account is because of something you did, whether it was an unfortunate stroke of luck, such as stumbling onto a redirect on a legitimate website in the small window before the site addresses it, or a serious oversight in security on your part.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Add-Ons, Account Security

Legal action between ZAM and Curse results in dismissal


So remember when Curse introduced their database last year called WoWDB, and we pointed out that it bore a strong resemblance to that other popular WoW database, Wowhead? Turns out ZAM, the owners of Wowhead after the acquisition a little while ago, agreed: completely under the radar last May, they filed a lawsuit for copyright infringment to the tune of no less than $1.5 million. ZAM says in the suit, copies of which we've obtained, that they've "expended substantial resources to maintain, update, and promote use of the WOWHEAD website so that it would become... one of the most recognized, and utilized websites designed to attract individuals" who play World of Warcraft. They claimed that WoWDB stole their look and layout purposely to create confusion among customers. This story wasn't reported in the WoW community at the time -- we hadn't heard about it at all until now.

And then, in January of this year, the case was dismissed completely by a judge. We've also seen a copy of the order for dismissal, and from what it says, both sides wanted out: "Pursuant to the parties' stipulation for dismissal, the court hereby dismisses the above-captioned action without prejudice." We don't have any information, however, why the case was suddenly dismissed, but there may have been an agreement made between the two parties -- either money changed hands or WoWDB offered to change its look (as you can see, there's still many similarities between the two sites). Or, as a third option, ZAM just decided it wasn't worth fighting -- according to the comments and activity on both sites, WoWDB doesn't seem to be a serious threat to Wowhead.

We've contacted both sides for comment, and we'll let you know if we hear anything from either one. On the front of it, this looks like ZAM was merely covering themselves -- they filed suit just in case, but never found cause to follow through. But there may be some other agreement between these two companies that lead to the case's dismissal.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Economy

Breakfast Topic: Are private servers really that bad?

Blizzard has a very clear line on private servers: they are against the rules. If you have one or play on one you're going to get in trouble. Your account will get shut down and you'll likely face some legal issues if you don't capitulate to their demands.

However is their stance right? Are private servers really that big of a deal?

There are two ways that I look at the issue. One way is to view the issue through the lens of morality and legalese. In this respect Blizzard is on solid ground. They own Warcraft and all the associated games, and they own the servers we play on. When we buy the game we're not buying the property. We're buying the right to use the property as long as we keep paying a monthly fee, and as long as we operate within their guidelines (the terms of service).

Some might contend that there is an innate right to privacy in the fact that after we've purchased the game (and its associated data), Blizzard has no right to tell us what to do with it or to find out how we're using it. I'm not a lawyer, but some are, and there's an interesting debate to be had here.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics

Jonathan Lee Riches has a better imagination than you, sues Blizzard

A man sitting in a South Carolina prison serving time for wire fraud has decided to file a third-party motion in the MDY v. Blizzard. Jonathan Riches is accusing Blizzard of "...causing [me] to live in a virtual universe, where [I] explored the landscape committing identity theft and fighting cybermonster rival hacker gangs."

I probably don't need to say anything else, and he probably doesn't either. I'm pretty sure most judges would just throw the motion out right there. But, the motion continues...

"Riches was addicted to video games and lost touch with reality because of [Blizzard]. This caused Riches to commit fraud to buy [Blizzard's] video games. Riches chose World of Warcraft over working a legit job. Riches mind became a living video game."

Wow. Just wow.

Is that all that bad? I would love to live my life as a video game. Maybe one day my girlfriend will show up as an Eredar Twin or Pirate. That wouldn't be so bad. Or perhaps she'll be riding around on a giant turtle. With pink elephants.

He has also sued the Eiffel Tower, and lost.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Humor

Blizzard wins $6 million in court case with MMO Glider

Another chapter of the Blizzard versus Glider story has come to a close. Blizzard and MDY Industries have been going at it over Glider since 2006, in a battle that's been rather important. Not only has it been about Glider doing something wrong, it's been about how well an EULA will hold up in court. That's something the entire gaming industry, especially MMOs, have their eyes on. If Blizzard had lost, it would have had a negative impact across the entire industry.

Blizzard is most certainly not losing. According to BBC News (among other sources), they just won $6 million from MDY Industries, which is less than what was expected of them. This isn't their first victory in the war, but it's the first involving money. Blizzard could still appeal the ruling, so it may not necessarily be over, though I personally think the point has been made as far as damages. There are still further chapters in the story that await, because they'll be in court again in January of 2009 to resolve further issues.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

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