Comments on: Palm Sued Over Multi Player Gaming Patent

A company called Peer-to-Peer Systems LLC has filed suit against Palm Inc. The Complaint alleges that the use of Palm handhelds and clone PDAs to play multiple player games wirelessly and interactively on two or more such devices directly infringes Peer-to-Peer's U.S. Patent relating to methods for playing interactive, multiple player computer games on ad hoc, wireless local area networks.
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What games?

xanderwilson @ 3/26/2003 6:19:25 PM #
I can't even determine what functionality this patent is referring to. What games can you play with other Palm users? Or is this something yet-to-be-implemented?


RE: What games?
Admin @ 3/26/2003 6:21:47 PM #
This is a rather confusing suit... Palm does not even ship any devices with games installed by default.

What I think the suit is possibly referring to is 2 player games via IR or Bluetooth.

RE: What games?
Wollombi @ 3/26/2003 10:45:36 PM #
The "ability" to do this doesn't infringe on copyright. If Palm had implemented "their" technology in something, or had shipped a game that includes their technology without license, then I could see this as having some kind of merit. With the information given in this article, however, I'd be surprised if it ultimately went anywhere.


It is not very comfortable to have the gift of being amused at one's own absurdity.
-Somerset Maugham-

RE: What games?
alanh @ 3/27/2003 1:23:40 PM #
The Tungsten|T comes with MagicDogs Hearts, which can be played multi-player via Bluetooth.

RE: What games?
swinginjonny @ 4/1/2003 11:40:31 AM #
They don't even HAVE a technology. It's an idea. It's like patenting "pants made with denim" and suing every jeans maker in the world. It should be an invalid patent. I think they patented an idea before its time. It makes them visionary but not inventors.

(Self-confessed Palm Geek)


Davy Fields @ 3/26/2003 6:24:20 PM #
This one's sure to go over.... next thing, we'll all have to stop breathing because Oxygen Inc., copyrighted that in the 30's..... so stupid.

What do they think's going to happen? Federal Court rules in their favor? This is why people have such a poor view of the legal system.

-Davy Fields

RE: Wow....
Lobotome @ 3/26/2003 6:35:03 PM #
Suits you right, for not rebelling against software patents.

If anyone around is thinking of starting a small business writing software, he or she better think of something else: writing software in the US is becoming a privilege of megacorps with megabucks to pay the megalawyers to negotiate the megaroyalties for each and every stupid concept. And if things go wrong (as they usually do) the same lunacy will start in Europe soon.

Hey, your keys are OVAL! Hey, you are writing the letter 'A' with JUST ONE STROKE! Hey, you are drawing a circle DEFINED BY THREE POINTS! Hey, to do the checkout you have an on-screen button that says "CHECKOUT"! ... Hmmmm, hear that knocking at the door? Prepare the dough, it is my lawyers.

RE: Wow....
sr @ 3/26/2003 7:38:30 PM #

To add some more perspective:

Playing multiplayer games on two PDAs over an ad-hoc network is covered by their patent. How about two PocketPC PDAs? How about two ultra-slim laptops over the same WiFi network? What about two beefy laptops over WiFi? Which brings me to my point: all LAN parties are covered by their patent.

RE: Wow....
Altema @ 3/26/2003 8:24:35 PM #
Oh well, there goes those family game sessions with Need For Speed and Zone Raiders. They should be suing the software makers. Technically you can apply this suit to two persons playing charades. I'm glad my patent is not this abstract.

RE: Wow....
mj6798 @ 3/27/2003 6:13:43 AM #
"This one's sure to go over.... next thing, we'll all have to stop breathing because Oxygen Inc., copyrighted that in the 30's..... so stupid."

Criticisms of patent law would look a whole lot more believable and authoritative if people who make them actually had a minimal understanding of the differences between "patents", "copyrights", and "trademarks".

RE: Wow....
Bumbleluck @ 3/27/2003 12:32:57 PM #
Criticisms of patent law would look a whole lot more believable and authoritative if people who make them actually had a minimal understanding of the differences between "patents", "copyrights", and "trademarks".

Very true...but you seem to have forgotten to include the lesson so we can learn....

RE: Wow....
HandyMan @ 3/27/2003 3:20:43 PM #
This is one of those "retarded patents". I think there's prior art in hooking up a few GameBoy(tm) together.

It's really sad all these stupid patents are going to kill innovation.


Morph @ 3/26/2003 6:31:14 PM #
You've got to be kidding me. I can't see how they would win this one.

First off I agree with the others above, that I don't know of any PDA games that are described like that. Even if there was, what would they use? IR?
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi just came out so I havn't seen anything created for those items yet.

And companies like Nintendo (Gameboy), and Sega, and all the others, have been around for how long? And 'now' this is coming up as an issue?

I think someone wasn't loved enough as a child and is just causing a fuss. I can't see this going on for too long.


For what shall it profit a man if he were to gain the whole world, but lose his own soul.

RE: What??
MikeInDM @ 3/27/2003 4:37:27 PM #
Just because you can't see how they could win it doesn't prevent them from filing.

There is lots of money to be made simply with settlements.

RE: What??
blue9 @ 3/27/2003 7:15:31 PM #
Does Palm even need to come to settlement agreements??

How did they get this patent?

Chankla @ 3/26/2003 7:12:09 PM #
Wouldn't this mean that playing checkers over the telephone would also infringe the patent?

RE: How did they get this patent?
ocspub @ 3/26/2003 7:35:44 PM #
Or chess by mail?

RE: How did they get this patent?
rsc1000 @ 3/26/2003 11:45:10 PM #
If you look at the patent - technically chess or checkers over the phone wouldn't apply because thers no screen (yes they got THAT specific - there SO CLEVER!!!). So we can all rest easy knowing their lawyers won't come knocking...yet. Absurd. I worry that the judges in these cases are technologically illerate to the point that they don't 'get' that this is insane and that this was just the implementation of exiting technology with a new one - NONE of this owned by these guys.. You change the bottom layer (the hardware layer) of a networking protocol stack and suddenly a patent kicks in - even if the game had been created before the hardware existed to make it 'wireless'. I hope the judge tosses these guys out on their asses.

RE: How did they get this patent?
rsc1000 @ 3/26/2003 11:51:50 PM #
>>just the implementation of exiting technology with a new one

i meant 'existing technology'

RE: How did they get this patent?
Chankla @ 3/27/2003 5:14:17 AM #
the checkerboard/chessboard is the screen.

Fight It

Lokain @ 3/26/2003 8:34:22 PM #
I'm not a lawyer, but there's sufficient prior art in the fact that there's been multiplayer all-to-all games since the early nineties (Doom?), and adding the wireless aspect to it would seem to be obvious to a layman, since that's the current trend in technology.

I don't get why the USPTO would issue this.

RE: Fight It
Psychoactivist @ 3/26/2003 8:43:51 PM #
When I was in Jr. High in 1995 I had a handheld SEGA "PDA", it had 1 game on it, but if you knew someone else w/ the same device you could play it w/ them useing the IR port. How can they patent something in 1997 that was out in 1995?

"If cop a feel I must, than cop a feel I shall." - Professor Farnsworth, Futurama
RE: Fight It
Wollombi @ 3/26/2003 10:50:12 PM #
>"I don't get why the USPTO would issue this."<

Uh, they have been in disarray for a long time. Lots of things slip through. Case in point, a boy in the midwest "patented" a style of swinging on a playground swing. It was issued by the USPTO. The boy's father is a patent attorney that wanted to show how ridiculous the system has become.


It is not very comfortable to have the gift of being amused at one's own absurdity.
-Somerset Maugham-

RE: Fight It
mj6798 @ 3/27/2003 6:16:40 AM #
"I don't get why the USPTO would issue this."

The USPTO has long ago stopped doing significant quality control on patents. They basically issue them and let the courts sort out the good ones from the bad ones. That would be OK if the courts actually caught up with reality and didn't effectively give issued patents a presumption of validity.

RE: Fight It
Lokain @ 3/27/2003 10:51:47 AM #
Yeah, I know the USPTO issues patents with no validity fairly frequently. Too bad, because of course Palm will win in this fight, but it'll cost 'em a few bucks, hurting the bottom line, and all the people who track their stock thinking it's an indicator of their economic health are going to use up bits here hammering more nails into the already well-nailed coffin that Palm rests in.

Hopefully Palm's fight burns through Kagan's and Solomon's NomadIQ money, and we won't have to put up with another frivolity like this.


RE: Fight It
honus @ 3/27/2003 2:19:28 PM #
>How can they patent something in 1997 that was out in 1995?

It can easily take 3 years for a patent to issue from time of filing, and in the US you have 1 year after invention in which to file, so if 1997 is the issue year, it could have been "invented" in 1993.

In any case, the claim goes into detail about how the clocks are syncronized between the two devices and I doubt that there is any clock syncronization going on in most Palm games. The Palm is certainly not built to be a game machine, and if you even try to argue that it isn't built to syncronize clocks between two devices, the game software itself would have to do that, but then you'd have to go after the software makers, but then the software makers didn't build a devices so it doesn't really fit, etc.

I think their Cybico suit has a better chance, and I have no idea if they do any kind of "clock" sync.

But it isn't really about if they should win or not in these cases. They sue because they hope that Palm will think it is cheaper to settle than to fight.

"Gaming Patent?"

hgoldner @ 3/26/2003 10:33:50 PM #
Well, I *am* a lawyer, but I'm not a patent attorney (so I know just enough intellectual property law to commit legal malpractice....) but we're all friends here so I thought I'd take a look at the patent...

It seems that there are 2 central issues which may relate to the Palm.

1. The use of a wireless "LAN." This is probably the weaker claim, as the diagrams and specifications call for a LAN in which all units are simultaneously communicating (such as WiFi), whereas my understanding of infrared communications is that it's one-to-one, not one-to-many or many-to-one. Additionally, the wireless LAN appears to be superimposed on a porting device to a central "Play Station." Back when this patent was obtained, '95, Play Station itself was a trademarked device, I believe, and I think that's where they were going.
In other words, I can't see this claim holding water.

2. The patent does propose a communications protocol between devices, down to the signal line details, and I don't know enough about how the coding is handled to know whether the IR protocol Palm uses is close to this.

On the other hand, I don't believe Palm writes *any* game programs for IR --- there are some other companies which do, but I can't imagine that the fact that other manufacturer/publishers utilize a Palm OS platform to do what the patent proposes makes Palm liable for patent infringement.

...but again, as I said, I'm not an intellectual property lawyer.

Taking my legal hat off altogether, it sounds like a bogus suit which had to be filed once the sabre rattling failed to produce a payment in exchange for extortion.


qurgh @ 3/26/2003 10:46:54 PM #
I'm not a lawyer either, but an IT professional (sounds nice ;). Wouldn't they have to sue the people who made WiFi, TCP/IP and every other multiplayer game on the market?

The only thing I can see coming out of this patent is if you made up your own wireless system for transmitting data. If you use standards that predate this patent, you can't be accused of breaching it.

The only way this patent could have gotten through the system was if the person reading it/adding it to the USPTO database didn't understand technology. As someone already said, in it's broadest sense, this patent would cover any game that you can play over WiFi. So if I play NWN over WiFi I'm breaching this patent.

Also, I've never seen a "Interactive multiple player game system and method of playing a game between at least two players" come out of Palm. All I've seen is small little boxes with an OS made by another company on it. A hardware maker can't be sued for what someone else does with software on that device. The patent describes a "game system" not a handheld device. I would never call my Clie a "game system". My Gameboy and Playstation are "game systems".

It seems to be that people are sueing Palm left, right and center. If anything they should target the OS and software makers, not the hardware makers.


Gurn @ 3/27/2003 2:13:54 AM #
I'm not a lawyer, but I've had jury duty. This appears to be a frivolous case that should get bounced by a smart judge, so it probably won't.

If I use my laptop, connected to the internet over my WiFi LAN, to play cribbage on yahoo games, am I a felon?

RE: Patent
MountainLogic @ 3/27/2003 11:40:08 AM #
If you read the claims they seem closely tied to a common clock. This sounds more like a non-real time system: the players get updated on a fixed schedule that is slower than game play. When you read a patent you have to read the fine details of the claims. The article here may say company patents wireless games or some such, but its the fine details of the patent claims that is really telling. You can't patent a broad idea, only a specific invention. There may very well be a vakid narrow invention in their patent that is valid. This narrow invention, however, may have no impact on many wireless p2p games.

Where I am confused is how they could have a leg to stand on against Palm? I don't see Palm selling network games. It's like filing suit against Dell because someone is playing pirated music on a Dell. (Oh, wait that's the kind of stunts the movie and music industry might try, but that's off topic). Anybody want to take a shot at why they have standing against Palm? Where is the prima facia case?

(PS I'm an engineer not a lawer, but I have been through the patent mill more than once)

twalk @ 3/27/2003 1:11:46 PM #
"You can't patent a broad idea, only a specific invention."

Actually you can patent a broad idea. You can put pretty much anything you want to in the claims section. In practice you're basically limited by the unobvious clause, prior art, prior patent claims, and the need to have some kind of indication that such a device would work.

(As MountainLogic says, the claims are the important part. When reading a patent, read them first.)

LiveFaith @ 3/27/2003 7:36:46 PM #
I'm not a lawyer ... but I'm not a lawyer. :-)
maao @ 3/28/2003 2:14:52 PM #
I'm not an idiot...

But this patent suit sounds idiotic.

Palm Inc.?

I.M Anonymous @ 3/26/2003 10:54:33 PM #
I am a bit suspicious about this article. There is no link to a verified news source, and the article referrs to Palm Inc. IIRC, there is no Palm Inc. anymore, just Palm Solutions Group (the hardware side) and PalmSource (the software side). Which is the suit against?

RE: Palm Inc.?
maven @ 3/27/2003 12:28:05 PM #
Actually, the Hardware and Software sides are still one related company right now. There has been no spinoff as of yet. It is indeed Palm, Inc.

This is going to be an open and shut case...

i2oadi2unnei2 @ 3/26/2003 11:48:21 PM #
Anyone care to guess how long this case is going to take?! *GRIN*

...|3eep |3eep!!...

Fricking Lawyers

jmstroup @ 3/27/2003 12:36:41 AM #
What a waste. Sue, sue, sue, sue, screw, screw, screw.

RE: Fricking Lawyers
grg @ 3/27/2003 6:13:06 AM #
Every lame copmany with a bunch of lawyers are suing somebody over patent infringement these days. It's getting ridiculous. I hope Palm will crash them.

Peer-to-Peer Systems, LLC

hgoldner @ 3/27/2003 9:26:23 AM #
As far as I can tell, this entity has no web site (probably can't find a "Play Station Transmitter" to hook up to.... ;)

A google search *did* point me in the direction of their counsel, though, a Timothy J. Vezeau, Esquire, who lists a suit against Cybiko on behalf of Peer-to-Peer Systems, LLC on his bio page:

Perhaps Mr. Vezeau is a Pocket PC afficionado?

Perhaps he can share with us his thoughts on the matter?

And let me just say that as a member of the Pennsylvania bar for more than twenty years, I have long since tired of the philosophy, "An argument can be made we'll sue and see what happens....." That's not my style, and not generally the style my clients prefer. (Or shall we say, I don't keep clients who think that way either.)


RE: Peer-to-Peer Systems, LLC
mkb @ 3/27/2003 3:39:03 PM #
Katten Muchin Zavis is a large well respected chicago law firm. If they are bringing this suit on behalf of peer to peer, I don't think we can regard this as frivolous. Large law firms usually don't take the same risks/cases that smaller and independant plaintiff litigation firms will take.

Dying gasp of a patent holder

RhinoSteve @ 3/27/2003 9:40:15 AM #
When someone has a patent and the investment money doesn't come rushing in, one of the old tricks is to sue a someone with money that even has vague possible perceptions of infringing.

If the Xerox patent didn't stick, this will neither. These guys better pull out soon or all they will have is a second morgate on their house to pay a legal bill from a case they lost in court.

My advise, make a honest living and put more money into engineering salaries instead of legal!

It's the economy stupid

treo007 @ 3/27/2003 2:17:42 PM #
The longer the tech economy continues to suck canal water, the more you can expect to see things like this. These companies a) make no money and b) are out of funding and can't get any more (see part a again). Probably explains why RIM is suing everyone and their brother lately as well.

RE: It's the economy stupid
Konstantin @ 3/29/2003 12:38:45 AM #
This sue is about money. Simple huh ?
Guess who are the patent holders. Two israeli persons. So, this is a jew thing ?

RE: It's the economy stupid
treo007 @ 3/29/2003 7:57:53 PM #

RE: It's the economy stupid
MP3 @ 4/2/2003 1:27:04 AM #
No, not necessarily - just 'cause someone is an Israeli, it doesn't mean he/she's Jewish. There are quite a lot of non-Jews living in Israel these days (e.g. immigrants).

Alhough Israelis are known for their quick temper and tendency to fuss over small things - maybe that's what's fuelling this case...

Strange Categorization

Haber @ 3/28/2003 2:08:49 AM #
So a handheld computer is bad, but a Centrino or other wireless laptop is ok? What about people on wireless LANs? Or those wireless displays you carry around?

compton's encyclopedia 1993 patent

drw @ 3/29/2003 12:35:04 AM #
I remember a biggie in 1993. Compton's Encyclopedia said it had a patent on combining multimedia content on a CD, and anyone else doing same must pay them royalties. I never heard what happened, but a brief search on google showed that the patent was reversed in 1994 on the grounds of being overly broad.

And when the internet comes along CompuServe cries foul: "no one can use .gif technology without paying us". So .gif was dropped in favor of .jpg.

Before I read this thread I was thinking along the same lines of patenting breathing. My thinking was that someone patented taking a "____" by flexing one's lower abdominal muscles, and I'd have to pay licensing fees every time I did the same. :-)


out of their minds

palmosfan @ 4/1/2003 12:51:48 PM #
I agree. This seems like a dumb lawsuit to me. If memory serves me correctly, there were already a couple of games out there by 1995 for the Newton OS? And doesn't the patent cover PCs communicating using IR or radio? Crazy?

Patent is invalid due to prior art

PeterEnglish @ 4/2/2003 10:16:40 PM #
Looks like there are a bunch of programs played over packet radio that would invalidate the patent:





These programs are dated 1992/1993

PalmOne Settles with Peer-to-Peer Systems

MLK @ 2/11/2005 3:07:24 AM #

Stephen L. Sulzer, Esq. Tel.: 202-659-6940
Dickinson Wright PLLC Fax: 202-659-1559
1901 L Street, N.W., Suite 800
Washington, D.C. 20036

Peer-To-Peer Systems Settles Patent Infringement Suit Against PalmOne, Inc.

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 9, 2005. Peer-to-Peer Systems LLC ("PTP Systems") announced today that it has settled its patent infringement action against palmOne, Inc. (formerly Palm, Inc.), the Milpitas, California-based maker of personal digital assistants ("PDAs"). The action has been pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware since January 2003, when PTP Systems filed a complaint alleging that Palm infringed U.S. Patent No. 5,618,045 ("the '045 patent"), which is owned by PTP Systems. The '045 patent claims a multiple player gaming system and method in which two or more computer gaming devices running a common game scenario form an ad hoc, wireless, all-to-all broadcast network and enable interactive, multiple player gaming over that network. PTP Systems' Complaint alleged that the use of two or more Palm PDAs to play interactive multiple player games over a wireless network, such as a Bluetooth network, directly infringed the '045 patent, and that Palm's advertisement and sale of multiple player game software, and its instruction of customers in the use of Palm PDAs and clone PDAs to play multiple player games wirelessly and interactively on two or more such devices, unlawfully induced infringement of the '045 patent. The terms of the parties' settlement may only be disclosed pursuant to a non-disclosure agreement.
The '045 patent was issued in April, 1997, and names Michael Kagan and Ian Solomon as inventors. PTP Systems licenses the '045 patent on a reasonable royalty basis to makers of handheld computers and dedicated wireless electronic gaming devices, as well as to developers and vendors of interactive, multiple player game software. PTP Systems also maintains a policy of vigorously enforcing its intellectual property rights against infringers and previously settled its patent infringement litigation with Cybiko, Inc., pursuant to an agreement, the terms of which may only be disclosed pursuant to a non-disclosure agreement.



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