Following on from #191, I looked at http://www.google.com/patents/US8082501. - "System and method for enabling users to interact in a virtual space"

This was granted in Nov 2009 and claims:

1. A method for enabling a first user to interact with other users in a virtual space, each user of the first user and the other users being associated with a three dimensional avatar representing said each user in the virtual space, the method comprising the steps of:

  • customizing, using a processor of a client device, an avatar in response to input by the first user;
  • receiving, by the client device, position information associated with fewer than all of the other user avatars in an interaction room of the virtual space, from a server process, wherein the client device does not receive position information of at least some avatars that fail to satisfy a participant condition imposed on avatars displayable on a client device display of the client device;
  • determining, by the client device, a displayable set of the other user avatars associated with the client device display; and displaying, on the client device display, the displayable set of the other user avatars associated with the client device display.

Which seems a pretty good description of Second Life if nothing else. Second Life was released in 2003, 6 years earlier than this application.

So, what are the challenges to this being invalidated?

  1. It is linked to other patents, which may well be older
  2. Second Life is an implementation of the method not a description of it
  3. (this is the bit I am most interested in) the prior art that is Second Life is either subtly different, or does not cover the whole of the claim.

If 3. is true, what is it about a claim that is patentable and different - what makes it sufficiently, well, unique?

  • this is the same patent that i brought up here that is claimed by World Inc and who is current suing Blizzard among others: patents.stackexchange.com/questions/201/…. look just below this. Its the same company/patent but this is a "continuation patent" from the first filing in November 1995. For this patent to be invalidated as part of the re-examination process you have to come up with something prior to Nov 1995. On my thread that I linked I believe that I have done just that.
    – geeksweep
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 20:08
  • 1
    yeah this set of patents were not investigated enough. There are harsh words out there among the initial VRML community that Worlds Inc actually took some of what they were working on as well as others(see the companies that had demos of this kind of stuff at SIGGRAPH) and took it in order to file their own patents and make their own stuff.
    – usmsci
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 20:17

1 Answer 1


The linking you describe in point 1 is very important. The patent you cited claims priority to previous patents/applications. These are all "continuations" which means they have the same specification and cover the same subject matter (as opposed to a "continuation-in-part" or "divisional" which may have different subject matter). Since they have this priority chain, you would actually have to find prior art from 1995. This set of cases is also being discussed here: Enabling Users to Interact in a Virtual Space (Worlds Inc) - Issued Patent - PRIOR ART REQUEST

  • ha, ok well i didn't notice someone had responded to exactly what i just said - didnt scroll down enough. so yeah exactly what you said :)
    – geeksweep
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 20:11
  • @geeksweep - I took this from your post 191 (don't know how to tag properly so it is hard to see). I was interested to see why the patent was not invalid - the linking issue is the explanation, but I am still interested in how specific prior art must be Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 22:01

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