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Nintendo Awarded Patent for Instant Messaging 67

Zwzo writes "Nintendo has been awarded a patent for a video game messaging service that utilizes a buddy list and can display information about game activities and user status." From the article: "Initially filed in 2000, a year before the release of Microsoft's Xbox and two years before the official launch of Microsoft's Xbox Live Internet service, Nintendo's patent is relatively broad and could potentially lead to litigation against other major players in the game console market. Although the text of the patent itself refers to the Nintendo64 and Game Boy Color by name, some have speculated that this patent could portend an instant messaging system for the Wii."
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Nintendo Awarded Patent for Instant Messaging

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  • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @02:40PM (#15504264) Homepage Journal
    As long as they don't weild it as a patent troll I will just mind my own business. Hopefully they have better things to do than use it against competitors.
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @02:43PM (#15504296)
      > As long as they don't weild it as a patent troll I will just mind my own business.

      Yup. Althought in this case, isn't the animal in question is more like a patent wiisel than a troll?

  • but (Score:2, Interesting)

    by amazon10x ( 737466 )
    But the question is: Did they file this patent so they could sue the pants off Microsoft et al. Or, did they file the patent just for protection against a suit?
    • What's with the false dichotomies? Maybe they filed the patent because they developed an application they intended to use, and for which an application would both protect them from suit and enable them to sue anyone else stepping into the same space.
    • But the question is: Did they file this patent so they could sue the pants off Microsoft et al. Or, did they file the patent just for protection against a suit?

      As a rule, bigger companies with actual products DO file it for defence means. But top management changes, times change, it's not out of the question that should they become really desperate and profits quickly dropping into losses... they could start suing everybody.

      Don't forget it's a company, not a man. A single man has certain principles or other
    • Dreamcast (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Nintendo was initially planning to have an online service with the Gamecube that rivaled XBox Live but it got scrapped because of how unpopular the online services that the Dreamcast had were; if you look at how successful Microsoft was with XBox Live you can see how Nintendo was (probably) correct (in a buisness sence) in not including a similar product on the Gamecube. Ultimately Gamespy predates any patents I have heard of that deal with centralized online services so this really just demonstrates how br
  • Groan. (Score:1, Troll)

    Who wants to start listing prior art? I don't know offhand, what sort of messaging capabilities existed in XBand, The Sierra Network, AOL, countless BBSes and BBS doors, MUDs, the old UNIX mainframe games, etc.?
    • Re:Groan. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kesch ( 943326 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @02:53PM (#15504372)
      If you read the TFA it would point out that this is geared toward an integrated messaging/email/game_status system with a serious gaming bent.

      It's also specifically geared for consoles, so even stuff like X-fire wouldn't fall under it.

      X-box live is really the only similar thing, and the patent was actually filed for 2 years before Live's official release.

      Finally, when has the US Patent Office really cared about prior art?
      • It's also specifically geared for consoles, so even stuff like X-fire wouldn't fall under it.

        OK, I get it.

        So now, instead of saying, "Hey look, I'm doing something that could always be done in the real world, but WITH A COMPUTER! Give me my patent!"...

        They'll start saying "Hey look, I'm doing something that's been done many times before on a computer, but WITH A CONSOLE! Give me my patent!"

        How long 'till Microsoft gets the one-click patent for buying addons to Oblivion *ON A CONSOLE*?
        • Re:Groan. (Score:3, Funny)

          by cgenman ( 325138 )
          How long 'till Microsoft gets the one-click patent for buying addons to Oblivion *ON A CONSOLE*?

          I'm guessing that it isn't long before Microsoft patents one-click buying of stuff *ON THE WII*.

          That would show Nintendo.

      • Actually, online gaming for the PSP follows the same model, although that obviously doesn't qualify as "prior art".
      • For the purposes of this patent I see no difference between a desktop computer and an in-front-of-tv computer.
      • the TFA


        PIN Number
        ATM Machine

        Sorry, it's kind of a muscle reflex.
    • Who wants to start listing prior art? I don't know offhand, what sort of messaging capabilities existed in XBand, The Sierra Network, AOL, countless BBSes and BBS doors, MUDs, the old UNIX mainframe games, etc.?

      I've always wondered about exactly what constitutes "prior art" (in the legal sense).

      For instance, their patent claims state that their invention is a system comprising of a web server and a video game console. Does something like AOL's instant messaging system constitute prior art for that, le
  • Nintendo probably only did that to protect themselves from more predatory companies. I doubt Nintendo would try to go after Sony or Microsoft legally.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 09, 2006 @02:54PM (#15504379)
    1. Nintendo does not have a patent on instant messaging. Nintendo has a patent on an instant messaging product. Some or all other instant messaging and/or game instant messaging products will not infringe on Nintendo's patent.
    2. Nintendo patents pretty much everything they do, every platform product they develop-- even if, as with the N64. This doesn't mean they intend to use the patent. It just means they wanted a patent. Nintendo owns patents on gobs and gobs of different things, but to my knowledge they've never used one against a competing video game system, ever. Nintendo patents stuff because they just don't want someone in thailand to make an N64 clone using Nintendo's circuit boards or whatever.
    3. The patent is from 2000. If this patent were anything but paperwork to Nintendo, they could have done something with it by now. The people at Nintendo probably barely even remember filing it. This patent tells us what some people inside Nintendo were thinking around 2000. It's interesting because it tells us that a few years ago, when Nintendo looked at XBox Live and said consumers didn't want it, Nintendo wasn't just posturing because they were annoyed Microsoft had thought of it first-- they'd actually thought out an online service and then decided the market wasn't ready for it yet. But besides Nintendo's circa-2000 mindset, the granting of this patent doesn't tell us anything else.
    This article is stupid, and you're stupid if you took it seriously.
    • This article is stupid, and you're stupid if you took it seriously.

      "Holy shit! My neighbor has a bomb!"

      So what? Everyone knows your neighbor has a bomb. They just like having bombs. Doesn't mean they're not friendly when they invivte you over for the cocktail party!

      They've got so many bombs, they probably don't remember building this one, and you're worried they are going to use it?

      Besides, this bomb was built in 2000. If it was going to go off, it would've blow us all sky high by now.

      People who

      • Err... and how are patents analgous to bombs? I think your only slightly over reacting.

        Yes there are BAD patents, but then there are tons and tons of valid patents, and this seems to be just another valid one, and one that hasn't seen a lick of activity in 6 years.

        Perhaps in this case a better analogy would be guns. Good in the hands of hunters and normal folk, but bad in the hands of others.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 09, 2006 @07:34PM (#15506594)
        Your analogy is completely off.

        A better analogy might be this: You find out that the hungarian army has weapons.

        Holy crud! The Hungarian army has weapons? They could use those weapons to kill us!

        Except wait, a couple of questions immediately come to mind.
        1. Wait, what kind of weapons? Are they guns? Pitchforks? Atom bombs? Stun tasers? Are these even the kind of weapons that you could kill somebody with?
        2. Wait, why is this a surprise? Wouldn't one assume the Hungarian army has weapons? I mean, having weapons is kind of something that armies tend to do.
        3. Why exactly do we think the Hungarian army is going to do anything with these weapons? Has Hungary even done anything in the last 50 years? Don't they just kind of sit around and like... I don't know, drink beer or whatever it is Hungarians do?
        Now, there are circumstances where finding out about somebody having weapons might be worrisome, depending on who they were and what kind of weapons they were. Like, if it was your neighbor, and he had a bomb, that would be awfully worrisome-- because bombs are uncommon in residential areas, there's no valid reason why your neighbor might have a bomb, and you have no particular reason to expect your neighbor would randomly stockpile bombs but never use them. And if was Iran, and they had a nuclear weapon, then that would be a good reason to be downright alarmed.

        But the Hungarian army having stun tazers? Wait, why is this supposed to be interesting again? Similarly, why should it make a difference that Nintendo (a company with no history of patent abuse or even patent enforcement really) obtained a specific patent on a specific instant messaging system that they designed for a product six years ago and then never sold?

        The Hungarian army stockpiles weapons but never does anything with them. Nintendo stockpiles patents but never does anything with them. The world is a dangerous place but we survive anyway. Deal.
  • My question is: What is the use of an instant messengee on the Wii without a keyboard, besides the usual 'Who's playing online, right now.' ?? I wonder if they plan to let the Wiimote function as a voip phone, and the instant messenger as a phonebook of sorts? Just speculation...
    • On screen keyboard, maybe? The point-and-click interface would support that. USB keyboard? It does have at least one USB port in the back. Maybe they'll license the Graffiti algorithms and recognize certain gestures with the wand as letters. They have been talking to Palm in the past, if I'm not mistaken.
    • Since the Wii will have two USB [wikipedia.org] ports [nintendo.com], what makes you think you won't be able to plug in a USB keyboard, or that there won't be a custom keyboard released at some point?

      Personally, I wouldn't be suprised if things involved the DS connectivity at some point as well, maybe letting you use the DS touchscreen along with handwriting recognition to enter text.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Man I used to fly in Warbirds online in the 90's and im all the other pilots all the time.

    geopilot

    http://www.globalboiling.com/ [globalboiling.com]
  • From the summary: ... Nintendo's patent is relatively broad and could potentially lead to litigation... Although the text of the patent itself refers to the Nintendo64 and Game Boy Color by name...

    So it applies specifically to the N64 and Game Boy Color... but it could lead to litigation?

    Can someone explain to me how this isn't just Ars Technica stirring the pot?
  • Seems like this was meant for the failed 64DD network. While it's tough to say whether or not they will apply it to the Wii (the 64DD was going to offer NES games for download). Current rumblings from Nintendo seem to indicate the Wii online service will be more like the DS's, per game friend codes and no unified system. On the other hand, they have registered a bunch of Wii domains that could be the basis for some sort of online community.
  • "Some have speculated that this patent could portend an instant messaging system for the Wii."

    Remember the whole Connect24 thing? Part of the announcement said that you could start up your console after it was sleeping, and you'd see the messages and gifts (ie. files) from friends which were sent to you while you were away.

  • Phsycho_gamer says: 'Sup man?

    WiiMan says: Gimme a sec. Lemme toss bowser at the last mine.

    ...

    WiiMan says: Bummer dude. He got me. Looks like no goodnight kiss tonight.

    Phsyco_gamer says: Yeah man. That Peach is hot. Wanna play Super Smash Bros. Brawl now?
  • The patent is way more limited that discussed in the summary or the linked article. The scope of a patent is determined by its claims and the broadest claim of the issued patent is directed at an IM system that allows users to check on the game status of their buddies through an IM client:
    1. A messaging system comprising: a web server computer; and a video game system for executing a video game program for a video game, the video game program being embodied on a storage device replaceably connectable by
  • If it was filed in 2000, why haven't they done anything with it?

    They mentioned the GBC and N64 by name, yet I can't see any way this would be helpful for those systems...

    If they were going to use this for the Wii, how would they use it? There's probably no text interface, so could it mean voice? Voice coordination is much better than text, too--to use Halo as a example, try flying a Banshee or driving a Warthog into your opponent's base and simultaneously communicate. It doesn't work.
    • Why doesn't it work? I've been using voice communication in games for 10 years, and its worked just fine.
      • I realize that last bit wan't clear now.

        I meant that trying to communicate through text doesn't work: in order to type, you have to hit t, then type your message, which means you can't press any keys to affect the game in the meantime.
  • Shocked (Score:4, Informative)

    by thebdj ( 768618 ) on Friday June 09, 2006 @03:34PM (#15504737) Journal
    An article about a patent that actually links to the patent. I nearly died when I saw that. Now, on to the patent at hand.

    For some of the nitty gritty first, they filed a provisional application on May 31, 2000, which means they have priority to this date. It is also important to remember with the current patent laws in the US the system is based on a first to invent, which means any prior art could have to pre-date the May 31, 2000 date as well.

    I have one grand problem with the arstechnica article. It is in the very end, where the author says:
    Even though Nintendo applied for this patent in 2000, independently developed technologies that have emerged in the interim resemble it in many ways.
    Unfortunately, this does not fly in any countries patent system. This argument is good for trade secrets, where independently inventing a similar or the same item is okay. In patents, whether or not someone invented something similar while you were waiting for you patent is immaterial. Also, the application would've been published no later then May or so of 2002, meaning any technology after that date could easily see the claims and know what Nintendo was seeking a patent for.

    I seriously doubt Nintendo will go sue happy with this, but they may hold onto it just in case their console market goes south like Sega's did. Remember, they wouldn't really be trolling if they actually did make a real attempt to implement a system using the patent they received.
  • This patent simply means that Nintendo will absolutely purchase AOL. After Nintendo is purchased by Apple.
  • OK not quite but they did have a modem and I think peer-to-peer playing on a very limited basis. I think it was a marketing flop.

    Any "instant messaging" patent that post-dates the 1960s deserves a good prior art search.

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