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Posts with tag legal

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 opposes Valve's DOTA trademark application

Blizzard has filed an opposition in Valve's ongoing trademark application to trademark the word DOTA, an acronym for the Defense of the Ancients map made popular through Warcraft III's custom map scene. DOTA was responsible for a good portion of Warcraft III's success and widespread competitive play, and the community has been calling the genre DOTA for many years before Valve began development of DOTA 2.

Valve hired on DOTA developer Icefrog to develop a new DOTA product from the ground up in house. Other DOTA developers went off to form Riot Games, which makes the incredibly popular League of Legends. And even as Riot tries to shift the nomenclature from DOTA to MOBA, the community that started it all is still winning out. Even Valve head honcho Gabe Newell said he didn't like the DOTA or MOBA acronym, instead substituting ARTS, or Action Real Time Strategy, in its place.

Filing an opposition does not necessarily mean that Blizzard wants to trademark DOTA -- it doesn't. Rather, an opposition makes light of information otherwise not seen and shows that there is more at stake and more people and parties have a stake in the word DOTA as being a community-owned term.

Valve and Gabe Newell responded to Blizzard's opposition by stating that the game being developed was a true sequel to DOTA and rightfully should have the moniker trademarked. However, the DOTA genre is still very much a term used to describe the three-lane tower setup of the classic DOTA map.

Blizzard will be releasing its own Blizzard DOTA game in the future through its brand new Battle.net Arcade system.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Lichborne: A guide to leveling your death knight in the Cataclysm era

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.

So the news that pandarens can't be death knights in the new expansion is a bit of a bummer, but it does mean you can start a new death knight right now without worrying about missing out on a new race choice. If you've read my guide to death knight racial abilities, you probably have a good idea of what race to roll, too. With that done, you've already taken the first step into a larger world.

Death knights, of course, start at level 55 and have that starting experience, which for the most part is pretty intuitive. You'll get more talent points as you finish quests, which can be fun in that you get your goodies a lot faster than other classes, but frustrating in that you don't have as much time to get used to everything. Luckily, we're here to help.

This guide isn't about maximizing your DPS at the raiding level or even the dungeon level; it's about getting you to level 85 as smoothly as possible. With that in mind, let's look at each talent spec and what they have to offer, starting with my favorite leveling spec, frost.

Frost is a great leveling tree (if there's a best leveling tree, this is it) because not only does it have On A Pale Horse, which allows you to move between mobs and quest objectives faster, but it has Lichborne for emergency heals and Howling Blast for superior AoE capability.

Read more →

Filed under: Death Knight, (Death Knight) Lichborne

PAX East 2011: Law In Games panel hits home for WoW

PAX East is home to all sorts of panels and discussion, ranging from sexism in video games to mechanics and motivations in the games we play. Legal issues are present in all things, and video games -- even World of Warcraft -- are no exception. Two of the biggest topics at the panel, hosted by prominent legal minds in the video game industry, were End User License Agreements and damages in game as part of tort law. All in all, it was a very interesting panel of Q&A from some of gaming's smartest minds.

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The Lawbringer: Legal gold sales? Not a Blizzard's chance in Hell

Welcome to The Lawbringer, wow.com's weekly feature on the intersection between World of Warcraft and the Law. I am a third year law student acting as your crossing guard and trying not to get run over myself.

As an introduction to our promised discussion on gold farming, I wanted to address an idea that's been circulating in the WoW blogosphere. There has been some talk that Blizzard could solve the problem of gold farming and hacked accounts in one fell swoop by simply selling the gold themselves. It's an attractive idea on its face, as some feel as though Blizzard's current ban on Real Money Transaction for gold ("RMT") is nothing but an ill advised Prohibition. Permit people to buy gold through Blizzard, the argument goes, and the keyloggers, site spoofers, hackers, and spammers will go back to the rock from under which they came, just like the Mafia disappeared after alcohol sales were permitted in 1933. Oh wait...

The obvious problems have been pointed out before, including: rich brats will have more advantages over folks with jobs and bills; inflation will cause Azeroth to resemble Zimbabwe, the Weimar Republic, or -- God forbid -- Norrath; players will be forced to pay up to stay competitive; WoW-clone MMOs will follow Blizzard's lead, leaving players with few refuges from RMT markets; Blizzard devs will be "encouraged" to design the game around acquiring and spending more gold; players who can't remember website names will still think "www.l3g!t-w0rlduvw0wcr@ft-g0ld.c0m" is Blizzard's website and download keyloggers, etc. Some don't believe this parade of horribles is enough to discourage Blizzard from creating this quixotic market. To the doubters, let me add some legal issues that would affect Blizzard and players, namely: property rights, taxation, and investment advice.

Any of that sound like improvements to you?

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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

The Queue: The roof, the roof


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW.com's daily Q&A column where the WoW.com team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

I've received a load of e-mails, tweets, whispers, and whatever else since Eliah posted this past weekend's WRUP. Yes, my garage burned down. No, nobody was hurt. No, the house didn't burn down, the siding just melted a little. No, that wasn't my car, it was my neighbor's car. Yes, my office has smelled like someone barbequeing since it happened and I can't get the smell to go away. I appreciate the concern, guys. You are all awesome. I guess I should pick a relevant Song of the Day, huh? How about Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire?

Jack Spicer asked...


"With each expansion Blizzard seems to be bringing underused talent specs around and making them highly desirable. In TBC, it seemed to be Feral Druids, Prot Pallies, Shadow Priests and BM Hunters. In Wrath, they really brought up Survival Hunters and Retribution Pallies.

But I'm curious. From a PvE perspective, which talent trees are still universally lacking and laughable?"

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue

The Queue: You ain't nothin' but a Core Hound


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky will be your host today.

There's a few good questions today of various voluptuous varieties: raiding, legal ToS (TNG > ToS, by the way), and new gaming hardware. Yummy.

Start me off, Delks...

Edit: Please be sure to listen to Fly Me To The Moon by Ol' Blue Eyes during today's Queue, or you can listen to the title's name sake song.

Delks asked...

"What's the point of running old world raids and instances?"

Read more →

Filed under: The Queue

The9 sues Blizzard

In an interesting twist to the dramatic saga of World of Warcraft in China, The9, the former distributor of the game until they lost the license last April, is suing Blizzard in two cases involving property loss compensation and commercial defamation. A company representative confirmed the news to sources at the same time stating that The9 will no longer comment on the matter. The Shanghai Pudong District People's Court will hear the assets damage case and the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court will hear the commercial defamation case on June 18 and July 8, respectively, according to 178.com.

This news comes after the announcement that The9 was deep in the development of a game conspicuously similar to World of Warcraft called World of Fight. Numerous delays in the release of Wrath of the Lich King in China fueled rumors leading up the non-renewal of The9's contract. The situation became so dire that a large portion of mainland players migrated (re-rolled) en masse to WoW servers in Taiwan, where Wrath was available. In fact, some had made incredible progress in such a short time, such as killing Mimiron in hard mode despite having re-rolled. Blizzard had planned to award the contract to The9 competitor NetEase once their contract with The9 expires in June.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

WoW Insider Show live this evening on Ustream at a special time


Our weekly podcast is broadcasting a special midweek edition this evening -- tonight at 6pm Eastern (so you've got time to listen in before the big Lost finale), we'll be over on the Ustream page doing what we always do: talking about the most popular post of the week. Our good friends and colleagues Amanda Dean and Lesley Smith will be on the show, and Turpster will probably make an appearance as well (given that we can convince him to stay up late enough). We'll be chatting about the latest PTR patch notes, the big changes coming to Wintergrasp, and what Blizzard legal has been up to lately (with both iPhone apps and webcomics). Plus, we'll answer your emails -- you can send us questions, comments, or insights at theshow@wow.com.

Should be fun. Head on over to our Ustream page at May 13, 2009 6:00 PM EDT to listen in live, or just step behind the break on this post to find an embedded feed. And if you can't make it tonight, don't worry, we'll be back at our normal time on Saturday, May 23rd at 3:30pm Eastern in the afternoon for our long-awaited video show. Now that will be a great time.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Raiding, WoW Insider Show

Blizzard legal censures Shakes and Fidget

First the legal crackdown on fan-made iPhone apps, and now this: German-based webcomic Shakes and Fidget, a longtime sight in our Sunday Morning Funnies column, has apparently been smacked with a cease-and-desist by Blizzard. Our German isn't that great (and we've reached out to the comic's creators for further comment), but a translation of this forum page tells us that Activision-Blizzard's legal department suggested to them that there was enough similarity between the official game and the unofficial comic to cause a problem, and while they believe that they're covered under parody laws, they decided to take the "offending" comics offline anyway, and are apparently currently working on editing them so that they can be put back up without any issues.

Obviously, since the comics are offline, we have no idea what material Blizzard objected to -- you could argue that depictions of certain gear created by Blizzard artists in the game or specific names are under trademark and thus could be protected under copyright law. But even then, Shakes and Fidget is one of many, many fan-made webcomics to obviously depict World of Warcraft and Blizzard-designed items specific to the game, and we haven't yet heard of any other webcomics that have been approached in this way.

Still, as they might say in Germany, wir riechen eine ratte. Without knowing the exact nature of the comics that Blizzard had an issue with, this seems like a complete overreach on their part, especially considering that it's some of their biggest fans who are making these comics, and that many artists have portrayed many videogames in webcomics without anyone confusing the issue of whether they were official or not. We'll keep an eye out for more information (and we've also contacted Blizzard for comment) -- if you know of any other webcomics or fan artists who've been approached by Blizzard in this way, definitely let us know.

Thanks, Henry!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Comics, Fan art

Two more WoW-related iPhone apps off the App Store

Blizzard has laid the legal smackdown on two more WoW-related iPhone apps. As Double Bubble reports, both Warcraft Chest and WoW Realm Status have bit the dust, most likely after Blizzard's legal department sent them a cease-and-desist (that's what recently happened to the popular Warcraft Characters app). We don't know for sure that Blizzard went after them, but considering that Warcraft Chest was completely free, there can't be that many other reasons why it's not on the App Store any more.

It's still not clear yet either why Blizzard is doing this -- originally, since they started off going after only paid applications, it was plausible that they just didn't want other people profiting off of their game (similar to the new addon policy). But they've taken down both free and paid apps here so far, and Double Bubble also has a list of both free and paid addons still up. At this point, we have to wonder what Blizzard's real intentions are here -- they're squashing valuable resources that fans have made and are giving away for free. If they were planning an Armory or realm status app of their own, that's one thing, but the only reason we can see so far is that their legal department has decided to act against the company's own loyal fans for their own interests. Not a great strategy for encouraging customer loyalty.

And what about sites like Wowhead or the Firefox realm status addon? Why is Blizzard only targeting helpful applications on the iPhone? We can only guess that Blizzard will eventually go after the rest of the apps on the App Store, so if you're working on one or planning to release one soon, guess you might want to think again about how that time might be better spent.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Realm Status, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Add-Ons

Blizzard sends a C&D to Warcraft Characters, other iPhone apps

The good news here: Blizzard may be planning to do more with the iPhone. The bad news: they're apparently trying to squelch useful iPhone apps that are out there right now. They've already sent out cease-and-desist orders to two Warcraft-related iPhone apps that were charging money (Armory Browser and the Warcraft Arena Calculator), and now we've heard from its creator that Warcraft Characters has gotten the C&D treatment as well (here's his post on the subject, though his site appears to be down at the moment). Just before he was set to announce the alpha of the 3.0 version of the app, Blizzard dropped him legal notice to stop distrbution. As of this writing, however, the app is still on the App Store, so get it while you can. Warcraft Chest and WoWTalent appear to still be available on the store as well, and WoWTalent is still charging 99 cents.

For whatever reason, it appears Blizzard is going after even free programs released on the iPhone that use their information from the Armory. We're not quite sure why -- an optimist might guess that they're planning to release an Armory app of their own on the iPhone, or they're worried that people might confuse the official iPhone app with one that's unofficial. Or maybe they're just being cautious of their copyrights, though that's a pretty harsh assessment -- there are other MMOs who surivive and thrive off of unofficial iPhone and desktop apps.

It would be a real shame if Blizzard legal was simply going after fans who have invested a lot of time and effort into these apps even when there's no clear reason for them to do so. Clearing the field for an official app is one thing, but closing down a useful product for your players built solely by your fans just to erase a perceived threat is entirely another.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Add-Ons, Hardware

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