That is the date I asked Worlds.com for an interview concerning their recent lawsuit against NCSoft, creator of such gems as City of Heroes and Guild Wars. This was the pipe dream of an aspiring writer/journalist wanting to try to do a somewhat important interview. I didn't expect to get it, and I told some of my blog friends (Such as Tipa of WestKarana.com and OpenEdge1 at Simple and Complex.) about me sending out the email.
The date that Thom Kidrin, the CEO of Worlds.com answered my sally at fame. His answer?
The next day I started to send out my questions to Thom. To be kind, my first question was the typical "Tell me a little about your company, what you do, etc". Immediately following that was a series of questions relating to the actual lawsuit, what Worlds.com thought about the outrage towards them from the online community, and other such tidbits. I'll list a few of the questions I had..
I welcome your questions and to the extent I can provide answers to them I will.
You can post my email but I would also like to review your website.
Question 3. No sense in ignoring the huge elephant in the room so let's discuss your lawsuit with NCSoft. A question on a lot of gamer's minds are why Worlds.com is starting the lawsuit now. The two patents that have been infringed upon, if I'm reading them correctly, have been for infringed upon for several years by different companies. Yet it wasn't until near the end of 2008 that Worlds.com took legal action. Why?And...
Question 4. Another question I'm hearing on blogs, forums, and news websites are "why NCSoft?". Was there something in particular that made Worlds.com choose that company over other companies?
These are obviously the questions that I, and a lot of people I've spoke to on forums and blogs, want the answers to. These questions, and quite a bit more, were sent out on 01/06/09. The only answer I've received from him is the answer to the very first question, the "shameless self advertisement" one. Not that I'm above shameless self advertisement, but I generally try to provide entertainment too, or at least information.
So what to do?
I'm going to release the information that I have on hand of course. Why? Because some of my answers are within what he gave me, if you move it underneath the monocle.
In 1994 Worlds was spun out of Bill Gross's Knowledge Adventure; an educational software publisher that grew to be the third largest educational software publisher in the world and was initially know as Knowledge Adventure Worlds. Titles included; Dinosaurs 3D, 3D Body and Undersea Adventure. When Worlds Chat was launched in April 1995 the company name was changed to Worlds Inc.Isn't this interesting? In 2001 Worlds.com terminated all their full-time employees during the .com bust THEN they began reconstruction in 2007. Perhaps I'm being too cynical here, but why is the picture of an innocent company suddenly finding itself in the grip of an evil tyrant in my head? Ok, what I'm getting at is this...
Worlds partnered with Steven Spielberg, Starbright Foundation, Sprint, UB Networks, Tandem, and Intel to create an avatar virtual world for kids confined to hospitals, Starbright World. The worlds came online at five pediatric hospitals in the United States in late 1995. Patent 6219045 was filed on November 13,1995.
In 1996-97 under contract Worlds developed private worlds for IBM, Visa, MGM, Sony and Disney.
In 1996 we also launched Alpha Worlds now known as Active Worlds which had everything that Second Life now does.
Worlds Inc. was acquired by Worlds Acquisition Corporation in Nov 1997 and changed the name to Worlds.com
Between 1998 and 2001 Worlds developed and launched the following worlds in revenue sharing partnerships with the following brands:
Universal Pictures Animal House, Polygram, Hanson, David Bowie, NY Yankees, British Telecom, World Wrestling Federation, Aerosmith and Coca Cola China.
Across all our 3D Worlds network our registered user base reached over 1,000,000 by the end of 2001.
On August 3, 2000 Worlds filed additional claims as a continuance to our 1995 patent 6219045 which resulted in patent 7,181,690 issued on February 20, 2007.
In June 2001 Worlds terminated all full time employees as a result of the .com bust and resulting Internet market meltdown. The company continued to maintain its service as well as continued software development on an as needed basis and under contract licenses.
During the intervening years there have been thousands of user created worlds and Avatars developed using Worlds tools and hosted on the members PC's. This user created content has been an experiment in organic growth and the sharing of virtual construction between thousands of Worlds users. This user created content on Worlds Peer-to-Peer 3D network now has hundreds of private user worlds
In September 2007 Worlds began a restructure which entailed a new Board to bring the company back into SEC compliance and to upgrading the core technology platform.
November 2007 Worlds signs a private development agreement with MTV.
July 7, 2008 Worlds signed Rapper DMC of Run DMC to develop DMC World set to launch early 2009.
December 11, 2008 Worlds retained Lerner David Littenberg Krumholz & Mentlik LLP (LDLKM), to enforce Worlds' patents.
December 24, 2008 Lerner David Littenberg Krumholz & Mentlik LLP files patent enforcement action against NC Soft on behalf of Worlds.
Why suddenly sue companies that have been infringing upon your patents when you could have done this prior to now? Why after 6 years from it's collapse did the company suddenly begin to reconstruct itself and establish a new Board? I know I'm leading, please forgive me, I'll stop being subtle.
What if Worlds.com didn't WANT/CARE to sue prior to this? What if Worlds.com was reconstructed for the sole purpose of this lawsuit? I know that what I'm saying is very conspiracy theroy-ish, but hear me out. The patent they filed wasn't official until Feburary 20th, 2007. A few months after that they began to renew their company and then over a year later the infamous lawsuit between NCSoft and Worlds.com was born.
So why NCsoft? It's simple. NCsoft is the weak member of the herd at the moment for this type of action for two reasons. One is the downfall of Tabula Rasa, and the other is the fact NCSoft is a Korean company. Now why does that fact matter? Here is an excellent quote from VirtualWorldNews.com...
I rest my bloody case. I wanted to be neutral in this matter with Worlds.com, I wanted to try to be a good "journalist". However I can't stop feeling somewhat dirty for even offering the chance for Worlds.com to give their side of the story. So while I do apologize to all of you that I couldn't get the answer from the mouth of Worlds.com as I had promised, I hope you found this article somewhat enlightening and entertaining.
"Being a foreign defendant in Texas is not a pleasant thing," he said of NCsoft, which is primarily a Korean company. "The juries are, many would say, biased towards American plaintiffs and have a propensity to offer high damages. Some defendants might view them as an unfriendly jury and it might make the defendant more likely to settle."
Many observers have speculated that since Worlds.com's patent was only granted in 2007 and filed in 2000, there may be too many examples of prior art, including NCsoft's own games, for the patent to stand. Roth explained that the patent itself is actually continued on from a much earlier filing date, November 13, 1995, putting it ahead of NCsoft's founding in 1997.
My discussion for today? What do you think of this lawsuit? Who do you side for if anyone? Leave some comments and let's discuss shall we? Now excuse me while I take a bath.