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Is Zynga Trying To Patent Virtual Currency?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the start-with-virtual-cowry-shells dept.

Patents 89

sarysa writes "Techcrunch spotted a recent patent application by Zynga, attempting to patent virtual currency purchased with real money for use in a gambling context. It is unlikely that the application will pass due to a plethora of prior art where free MMOs that have gambling minigames would qualify, but Techcrunch also spotted that the application mentions Farmville as an example of embodiment. This indicates that Zynga may be attempting to patent non-refundable virtual currency as a whole. Should be interestering to see how this develops."

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I patented... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996364)

the first post!

Re:I also patented... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997174)

being offtopic!

Silly patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996368)

Will there be an end to these?

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996370)

What is there to stop them from getting the patent? Look at all the patents Apple has been granted in the past few years even though there have been several implementations prior to most of the stuff they now have patents on.

Re:So? (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997940)

Is this a sign that the mini-bubble that led to something like a Facebook game being "worth" over a billion dollars.... that bubble might be showing signs of a leak?
 

patents = virtual currency (4, Informative)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996406)

It's like the IPv6 problem.

Many people can see that this is something that will be a key element of future society. It's just a matter of patenting as many related ideas now and waiting for them to come into use.

* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Webpage_and_web_service_patents [swpat.org]
* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Invalid_patents_remain_unchallenged [swpat.org]
* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Patent_trolls [swpat.org]
* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Divine_e-commerce_patents [swpat.org]

Re:patents = virtual currency (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997072)

This will be the end of societies that allow themselves to become mired like this.
Take India for example. Generic drug industry = I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE!

The Problem (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996448)

The problem with software/computer related patents is two-fold. The first: Is it truly unique, or is it only unique because it involves a computer? The second is the plethora of prior art available for most so-called unique implementations.

Those two problems have a root cause:
The USPTO does not have (any or) enough patent/trademark clerks to really search out all instances of prior-art and because of the large back log are encouraged to just rubber stamp everything they come across if /they/ (who could be below-average in knowledge about a particular field) don't know of any prior art off-hand.

Common knowledge (sense, or anything else that one generally considers as common) is NOT common.

Make the USPTO liable for invalidated patents? (5, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996732)

The USPTO does not have (any or) enough patent/trademark clerks to really search out all instances of prior-art and because of the large back log are encouraged to just rubber stamp everything they come across if /they/ (who could be below-average in knowledge about a particular field) don't know of any prior art off-hand.

How about making the USPTO pay the legal bill whenever a patent is invalidated through the court system?

That way, there'd be no immediate punishment for granting bullshit patents. Patents that aren't challenged, wouldn't affect the USPTO's bottom line. But (if successful) would make it free for the challenging party to invalidate a patent. It would be a great incentive to watch general quality of issued patents, and perhaps hire enough people / raise fees to cover the actual required effort. If an important patent means a bigger legal bill when invalidated, that would help to pay more attention to patent applications with (potentially) wide impact.

I'm not a fan of patents in the 1st place, but weeding out the many nonsense-patents that are on record, would be a good start. Especially those nonsense-patents that patent trolls uses as beating stick, and that cost society a lot more (down the line) than hiring a few qualified patent clerks.

Re:Make the USPTO liable for invalidated patents? (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996896)

I don't know. The US Government already gets an automatic, royalty-free grant on patents and copyrights IIRC. Wouldn't this idea be counter-intuitive in that regard?

Re:Make the USPTO liable for invalidated patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997774)

No, make the patenter pay the court fees if they won't give up their patent by will.

Re:Make the USPTO liable for invalidated patents? (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 3 years ago | (#33999062)

The problem is if you hold the USPTO liable, the net result is that the profits dwindle within a government organization. And yes - the USPTO is the one government department that is net profitable (besides the IRS of course.)

If you let that happen, sure the USPTO will "pay" for it, but it will pay for it by sending less money to other branches of the government... which WILL get that money from somewhere - let's face it.

If that's the case you'll end up with either more government debt or higher taxes.

I'm not saying that would necessarily be all bad and that may provide some incentive, but as part of a huge government organization, it will mean very little.

Re:Make the USPTO liable for invalidated patents? (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 3 years ago | (#33999470)

Wouldn't this sort of punishment at it's root punish tax payers for the USPTO granting bogus patents? I don't know about you, but I don't want to pay for the legal fees of company X who challenged Y's patents and won.

Re:Make the USPTO liable for invalidated patents? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34001532)

I'd much rather hold the examiner *personally* liable.

If not completely, then enough to sting. ...

Who the hell am I kidding? The USPTO is bought and paid for just like every other branch of government.

Re:The Problem (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996988)

I've been able to buy non-refundable virtual currency for years [google.com] .

The only difference here is "on the internet" (the magic phrase that guarantees that a patent will be granted).

Re:The Problem (4, Interesting)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997028)

I think banks were even earlier. They started making metal/paper tokens with different values on them, and eventually evolved into an elaborate system handled by the governments around the world. The money on my Visa debit account feels pretty virtual too.

Re:The Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997684)

It is the USPTO's job to approve or deny requests. They either need to hire more people people to review stuff, or they need to put patents on a queue until they can get the proper expertise to judge if a patent is valid or not, and if it does not have prior art.

If they can't do this, why are they in existence? They either need more funding or a new fee structure to finance the ability to handle their workload.

Re:The Problem (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#33998532)

I never said it wasn't. We are in complete agreement on this. Don't be so hostile.

casinos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996478)

Surely online casinos have been doing this since forever?

Re:casinos (2, Informative)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996526)

> Surely online casinos have been doing this since forever?

Maybe, but this patent covers *a specific* implementation of virtual currency. Invalidating or avoiding it will require reading the claims, not the name or the abstract.

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/How_to_read_patents [swpat.org]

Re:casinos (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997250)

> Surely online casinos have been doing this since forever?

Maybe, but this patent covers *a specific* implementation of virtual currency. Invalidating or avoiding it will require reading the claims, not the name or the abstract.

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/How_to_read_patents [swpat.org]

Furthermore, online casinos typically do the opposite - you exchange money for virtual chips, gamble, and then you usually want to get your winnings back in real currency at some point. These claims specify that the virtual chips are not redeemable. Virtual casinos are prior art for an obviousness analysis, but do not anticipate these claims.

Re:casinos (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997270)

Maybe, but this patent covers *a specific* implementation of virtual currency.

No, it doesn't. One of the claims is quoted in TFA. Specific it ain't.

Re:casinos (2, Interesting)

julesh (229690) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997752)

Invalidating or avoiding it will require reading the claims, not the name or the abstract.

You're right.

What is claimed is:

1. A method, comprising:

        receiving, at a server, a purchase order for virtual currency from a player, wherein the purchase order was made with legal currency, and wherein the virtual currency is usable within the context of a computer-implemented game;

        crediting an account of the player with virtual currency, wherein the virtual currency is not redeemable for legal currency;

        receiving a second purchase order for a virtual object within the context of the computer-implemented game from the player, wherein the second purchase order was made with virtual currency; and

        debiting the account of the player based on the second purchase order.

Basically claims any form of virtual currency. Online casinos have been doing this just about forever.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the computer-implemented game is a gambling game.

Restricts to gambling games. Online casinos have been doing this just about forever.

3. The method of claim 2 wherein the virtual currency comprises a plurality of virtual playing chips.

Appears to be essentially meaningless. WTF is a chip in a virtual currency context?

The claims carry on like this. 4 and 5 basically elaborate on things that all gambling systems must do. 6 is any virtual currency that can't be redeemed for real currency. 7 and 8 are the same as 4 and 5 only built on 6 rather than 1. 9 is selling in-game items for non-redeamable virtual currency; I expect Linden Labs will have a few things to say about that one, among others. 10 covers basically any imaginable implementation of 9. 11 is giving a gift of virtual currency, but only if the two players have a "friends" relationship set up. May be novel; I haven't seen it in any of the games I've played before, but hardly earth-shattering. 12-15 are the same as the first few claims but phrased from a "computer with a loaded program" perspective rather than a business-process perspective. 16 is basically the same as 11, only not restricted to currency, and requiring a client-server implementation. 17-20 are trivial, obvious variants of 16.

The rest of the application [google.com] is also pretty bizarre. Take a look [google.com] at figure 2. Basically, they've included a diagram of the organization of a typical computer, complete with northbridge and southbridge. Presumably because they think this will make the application look more technical than, "hey, gambling chips on a computer!!!1!"

The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (4, Interesting)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996514)

The Major BBS by Galacticomm had a multiplayer poker game where you converted credits you bought for general use (usually used for metered online time) into poker chips, with the ability to win more credits.

Now I'm not a patent lawyer, but this paten sounds exactly, and I mean exactly like how we used to play.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (2, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996674)

I believe natives trading seashells and shiny stones as money predates your example by a couple of million years. Trading something that has no value for something that does, simply because we as a society have decided that thing is a virtual representation of wealth is the foundation of modern society. Money, by its very nature, is virtual.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996750)

Ding Ding Ding. Also, Drug Wars web based game circa 2000-2002

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996966)

You want old prior art. A lot of you young fellas might never have seen them but thirty odd years ago electronic card poker machines were all the rage. Put multiples of twenty cents in and it would convert it into a non-refundable credit allowing you to play until your credits ran out. Although is was legal is some locations for them to payout, it was illegal in many locations hence you just played to play not to win http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_poker [wikipedia.org]

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 3 years ago | (#33999274)

Pachinko machines circa 1920 ?

Real currency is exchanged for virtual currency (balls) that can be played in the machines. The machine pays out winnings of more balls. Officially / legally, these balls cannot be exchanged back into real currency, although it does happen courtesy of the local Yakuza mafia who will have an exchange center close to (but not in) the same location as the machines.

Kind of parallels the whole Gold Farming / Selling websites that abound in MMOs chat screens. The Internet mirrors real life once again.

But I digress, this patent is bullshit, so of course it will be awarded.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997260)

The Major BBS by Galacticomm had a multiplayer poker game where you converted credits you bought for general use (usually used for metered online time) into poker chips, with the ability to win more credits.

Now I'm not a patent lawyer, but this paten sounds exactly, and I mean exactly like how we used to play.

Did you have the ability to redeem your winnings, say for more metered time online? Then it's not prior art. Read the claims. They specify that the credits cannot be redeemed.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997670)

So the "invention" is removing the ability to redeem your winnings? Not really patentable subject matter is it.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997764)

So the "invention" is removing the ability to redeem your winnings? Not really patentable subject matter is it.

Without delving deeper into it, I couldn't say. What I'm trying to get at is that there are two different requirements for patentability:
First, the invention has to be new. No one else has done it before. This is where people can legitimately shout "prior art" if the prior art includes each and every element of the claims.
Second, the invention has to be nonobvious. So even if it's new - no one has ever tried a pickle and potato chip sandwich before - it may be an obvious combination of potato chip sammiches and pickle sammiches. Here, you can't claim that potato chip sammiches or pickle samiches alone are prior art that anticipate the invention, because they don't. Only the combination does.

Here, an online poker game where you can redeem your winnings does not anticipate the invention, by definition. It may be prior art that shows it's obvious, if you combine it with another piece of prior art, but unless you do that, you've only done half the work.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997868)

First it has to be an invention. Then you can worry about whether or not it is new or non-obvious. I'm not really convinced that this is an invention.

A patent may be granted for "any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof". Does chopping the last stage off an existing process qualify? I doubt it.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33998112)

First it has to be an invention. Then you can worry about whether or not it is new or non-obvious. I'm not really convinced that this is an invention.

A patent may be granted for "any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof". Does chopping the last stage off an existing process qualify? I doubt it.

There are three requirements in 35 USC 101. You're incorrectly trying to ignore two of them, with your statement "first it has to be an invention, then you can worry about whether or not it is new or non-obvious."

The three requirements are that the claimed invention comprise patentable subject matter - process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or an improvement thereof; be new and nonobvious, which I discussed above; and be useful, which is a different discussion entirely.

When you say "first it has to be an invention, before you have to worry about whether it's new", that's jumping to the endpoint - if it's not new, it's not an invention. Unless you're asking whether it's a process? Clearly, a process with fewer steps than another process is still a process.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#33998568)

This post is "new". Nobody has ever made a post quite like this one before. Is it an "invention"? I doubt it. Could I get a patent on it? Almost certainly not. Copyright, yes, but not a patent.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 3 years ago | (#33999330)

This post is "new". Nobody has ever made a post quite like this one before. Is it a "copy"? Absolutely. Could I get a patent on it? Almost certainly yes, as it's just sufficiently different (99% existing text, 1% new text) to claim "invention".

It's STILL a blatant ripoff of the parent, but hell, this kind of "invention" is what has kept the pharma companies in gold plated toilet seats since the patents of the REALLY useful drugs ran out years ago.

Bang a new molecule onto an existing complex chain, claim it cures not only small and big warts, but now medium warts also, and get another 15 years carte blanche to ripoff the consumer.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34001554)

Thing is, to make a "derived work" in the patent realm, you need a license for the patent you're deriving from.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34001624)

This post is "new". Nobody has ever made a post quite like this one before. Is it an "invention"? I doubt it. Could I get a patent on it? Almost certainly not. Copyright, yes, but not a patent.

Yes, and is your post a "process, apparatus, composition of matter, or article of manufacture, or improvement thereof"?

No. Go back and read the statute. Don't just make up arguments because they sound good in your head.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997796)

Yeah, it's like removing the sideview mirror from my car, and then suing the car manufacturer because I have a patent with claim "235. car with sideview mirror removed".

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997820)

Did you have the ability to redeem your winnings, say for more metered time online? Then it's not prior art. Read the claims. They specify that the credits cannot be redeemed.

They only specify that they can't be redeemed "for legal currency". As doing so would be illegal in most states of the US, I would imagine few BBS operators would have been willing to do this. Winning more metered time would count as a "virtual currency [that] is not redeemable for legal currency" and therefore matches the claims, and is prior art.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34001150)

They only specify that they can't be redeemed "for legal currency". As doing so would be illegal in most states of the US, I would imagine few BBS operators would have been willing to do this. Winning more metered time would count as a "virtual currency [that] is not redeemable for legal currency" and therefore matches the claims, and is prior art.

Since online time was sold as credits, which you consumed at about 1 per second, and could purchase virtual items with, (poker chips, game time, etc) I would say it was absolutely a virtual currency.

Re:The Major BBS circa 1990 and poker. (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 3 years ago | (#34002104)

Yes, but to invalidate the claim that this is prior art, you have to be able to sell it back to get *legal* currency, e.g. US dollars. Could you?

auctions? (1)

djd20 (1835080) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996520)

Sites such as http://www.jingobid.com/ [jingobid.com] swoopo.com and mad bid have been doing this for ages in the form of non-refundable 'bids' which are the current used for participating in the auctions. Fat chance getting that kind of a patent through. The unified currency makes it easier to accept multiple currencies at a fair rate.

prior art (1, Interesting)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996538)

Back when precious metals were the currency, fiat currency is virtual currency.
If we want to stick to the IT field, with fractional reserve banking and dematerialization, normal currency is even more virtual than virtual one. The world is under the spell of numbers in a computer.

Patents on one side, pirate parties pushing for the complete removal of copyright on the other side... Both options would make people poorer, the second one seems the less troublesome but something in the middle would be the best: you can assert copyright but then you cannot disperse free samples to entice people (either it's open or it's behind a paywall), you can patent stuff that other people can't come up with on their own, you can sue, or even directly get compensation for something like "the actual damage infringement caused minus the advantages (publicity) gotten from piracy".

Re:prior art (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996778)

pirate parties pushing for the complete removal of copyright on the other side...

Please: don't fall for the FUD (I know, I know: media tend to portray that this way, but media aren't neutral parties to this fray).

Picking one random example [pirateparty.org.uk] . An abstract:


We will legalise use of copyright works where no money changes hands, which will give the public new rights [...]


Counterfeiting, and profiting directly from other people's work without paying them, will remain illegal.

Fear not. No complete removal of copyright in sight.

Re:prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997202)

I think the pirate parties are just trying to expose the status quo as the extremism it is by balancing it in hte other direction. Like it or not, politics has a lot of regression to the mean fallacies. You can't counter extremists like the MAFIAA et all by being fair and balanced.

Re:prior art (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34001568)

The MAFIAA is all about having bigger legal guns.

They aren't afraid to extract settlements from dead people they sue by "accident"

"should be interesting to see how it develops" (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996542)

and what does that mean exactly ? what will happen is, eventually them or some other greedy pigs are going to patent something like this somewhere, and attempt to enforce it through international treaties. for, this is what patent system is : giving ownership of logic concepts to individuals. no different than letting a lord own a river and toll anyone who passes over it.

Well, hopefully (1)

dsavi (1540343) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996574)

Hopefully this doesn't (directly) affect anyone reading this. As in, I hope you're not wasting your money.

Re:Well, hopefully (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997838)

Not quite sure how running an offshore online casino counts as "wasting your money". I hear it can be quite lucrative.

Fools (3, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996602)

ALL currencies are virtual. They have only the value that a group of people assign them.

Re:Fools (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996762)

I was thinking along some what similar lines myself.

Re:Fools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996782)

Everything is virtual. They have only the value that a group of people assign them.

Re:Fools (3, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997846)

ALL currencies are virtual

The application defines "virtual" as meaning "usable within the context of a computer-implemented game".

Re:Fools (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#33998156)

Since "The Matrix," reality qualifies...

Re:Fools (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33998824)

I can use real money in a "computer-implemented" poker game online. Or in a "computer-implemented" slot machine. So real money neatly fits their definition.

Hmm... (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996612)

It must be nice to work at the patent office. If you're doing a good job, your boss will be happy with you. If you're doing a bad job, you will feel happy about yourself. Win-win situation.

Facebook v. Zynga (3, Interesting)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996634)

It seems to me that Zynga is trying to end-run Facebook's attempt to take control of virtual currency transactions in Facebook apps. If they can get a patent on virtual currency, they can try to extort a big fat patent license fee from Facebook or otherwise escape the new Facebook Credits.

It will be interesting to see if Facebook contests this patent application.

Re:Facebook v. Zynga (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997160)

Don't forget gaming platforms. Wouldn't Xbox Live points fall under this? Or MMO microtransation currency, like NCCoin?

Virtual money (0, Offtopic)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996640)

I've been using virtual money ever since I was able to pay for this directly from my back account without the need to convert it to real money first. Of course instead of using a new name and symbol thingy my bank simply used the same name and symbol as the real money, and applied a 1:1 conversion ratio.

Re:Virtual money (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 3 years ago | (#33999352)

A 1:1 conversion ratio ? Your bank will let you do international bank-to-bank transfers with NO charges for you or the receiving party ?

Please, tell me the name of your bank, I'll open an account tomorrow.

Zynga (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33996688)

Zynga is a foul company. This is what you get when you allow spammers to do proper business. Unsurprisingly there's a heavy Indian involvement. Nature's scumbag beggars. Don't let smelly brown people near a computer, people!

A fool and his money... (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996694)

Well you know what they say...A fool and his money are soon parted. I have never understood it myself, but evidently I didn't give fools enough credit...there are far more of them then there are people who actually think before spending. Its kind of shocking how many will play that stuff though, I signed up for facebook specifically at the request of my mother since according to her "all my relatives are on there". So far there is far less communication than there is updates on when aunt lisa got a new piggy for her virtual farm or when uncle charlie joined some lameass teabagger group. Anyone else hate those damn notices, I really don't care if you achieved a zillion points on some bejeweled game and I really doubt many others do. Its not that I am anti-social I'm just anti wasting my time and brain cells.
im
As for virtual currency, I do remember buying credits to pay for play time on Mechwarrior with CompuServe back in the day. BBS's used virtual currency for similar things as well. At least with those credits=time the way Zynga and others are doing it people are paying real money to buy things like virtual horses and extra virtual coins for a virtual casino game that pays out virtual prizes...I guess I'm just out of touch but I just cant see any logic to it at all.

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

panda (10044) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996914)

I don't get it, either. I mean, I'd rather spend my money on hookers and booze.

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34002140)

and blackjack

I ran the first SL casino 4 years before that. (2, Interesting)

eggstasy (458692) | more than 3 years ago | (#33996766)

Zynga was founded in 2007, Facebook was founded in 2004, I ran a virtual currency casino in 2003, and even before that, there were already some standalone slot machines built by Linden Lab itself. WTF? :)

Re:I ran the first SL casino 4 years before that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997154)

Is there any way to contact the USPTO about a current patent application? I recently saw a patent whose specific claims have been done by various systems for well over 10 years, but I don't trust the USPTO to do its job and deny the patent.

Re:I ran the first SL casino 4 years before that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997252)

http://www.uspto.gov/patents/contact_patents.jsp

Seriously, if you can't find simple information with 2 clicks, I doubt you have some sort of great prior art examples.

Re:I ran the first SL casino 4 years before that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33997540)

I'm perfectly capable of finding pages full of telephone numbers, but I was asking how to contact the USPTO about a current patent application. You didn't answer the question.

magic online was 2002 (1)

SEAL (88488) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997444)

Magic the Gathering Online went live in 2002. You buy "tickets" which you can use to trade, enter tournaments, etc. And you can win stuff playing those tournaments. I'd say that falls under the gambling with virtual currency category.

This patent should fail on two counts (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997222)

This patent should fail on two counts, not only is there prior art but this patent is obvious, not only to an expert in the field, but to a complete novice in the field.

Re:This patent should fail on two counts (0, Offtopic)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997642)

Not only that, but isn't that basically what fiat currency is?

what real money? (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 3 years ago | (#33997910)

Our "real money" is as virtual as the virtual currency.

Casino chips, anyone? (1)

ngc5194 (847747) | more than 3 years ago | (#33998034)

"virtual currency purchased with real money for use in a gambling context" Isn't this the definition of an online casino chip? Maybe prior art?

Chuck-E-Cheese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33998038)

So I guess Showbiz Pizza, Gameworks, and basically every arcade (and some east coast beach boardwalk redemption game parlors) on the planet doesn't have prior art "non-refundable" (non-redeemable) currency with the tokens they use for games?

Stupid Question (2, Interesting)

Pop69 (700500) | more than 3 years ago | (#33998510)

Has anybody actually read the patent application or is everyone too busy trolling their point of view on patents in general ?

I read it and as far as I can see the "innovation" is that you can't convert the virtual currency back into real currency. It's a bit thin and too generalised to be granted a patent on as far as I can figure out.

Unless I'm missing something it really is that simple and obvious.

Re:Stupid Question (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 3 years ago | (#33999392)

Fine, I want a patent granted to me immediately on the Space Shuttle, but with the USA flag removed.

That's the ridiculousness of the "innovation" that Zynga are claiming here.

Re:Stupid Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34001074)

LOL. How is that Innovation? This is ridiculous on their part then :)

Online Bingo (1)

Digital_Mercenary (136288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33998674)

Online Bingo sites have been doing this for 20 years....
-DML

Easy to bypass (1)

BillX (307153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33999150)

I hope the prior-artiness of this is obvious even to the Patent Office, but in case not...
All the claims I read include the qualifier "where the virtual currency is not redeemable for real currency", probably to exclude LindenBucks as prior art. Worst case, you could get around this the same way purveyors of offline virtual currency (coupons, etc.) do to comply/avoid various laws [yahoo.com] . On each virtual token: "Cash value 1/zillionth cent"

From TFP document (1)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 3 years ago | (#33999480)

TFP document is fairly straight forward. From the background section:

[0007]In the case of gambling-type games, the ability to simply "cash out" by selling to the game operator would, in many jurisdictions, constitute regulated (and possibly illegal) gambling. Furthermore, permitting one player to effectively "cash out" by selling to another player may also run afoul of gambling laws or regulations. Consequently, in some cases, players want to play gambling-style games, but without the regulated gambling aspects.

Thus the crux is almost subscription based. Its gambling with no expectation of renumeration from winning. Except perhaps, the ability to continue playing if one has "won".

You're all ignoring... (1)

Grapplebeam (1892878) | more than 3 years ago | (#33999488)

The fact that people have patented even more outrageously stupid shit. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if they got the patent. Remember that USPTO is no longer taxpayer funded and hasn't been since '93, so their livelihood comes from people filing patents.

Zynga should fix their security first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33999854)

Zynga should fix their security first, before they deal with other crap. Things like preventing Chinese gamers from stealing other gamer's virtual cash and perhaps ... perhaps using reverse proxy servers.

Re:Zynga should fix their security first (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34002152)

Do only Chinese gamers steal other players virtual currency? Is it a racial thing(hate crime maybe)? Or does everyone do it and it's just the idea of China stealing anyone's currency that makes Seppo's(and their fellow travellers) all indignant? has it been reported on FOX yet?

cheap jerseys (1)

nfl jersey online (1901968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34001178)

Many football fans want to wear a jersey of their favorite team or player, but it can be difficult to shop for right size one. Typically, our ootball jerseys [nfljersey-online.com] fits different than a normal website, so your regular shirt size might not necessarily be the same size as an NFL jersey [nfljersey-online.com] . Using a measuring tape, it is easy to figure out what size red wings jerseys [nfljersey-online.com] [nfljersey-online.com] will fit you best. http://www.nfljersey-online.com [nfljersey-online.com]

Don't video poker and other casion games have this (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34001302)

Don't video poker and other casion games have this and had this for at least 30+ years. When you put cash in one how many times does a number show up under Credits?

Just off the top of my head... (1)

IronSight (1925612) | more than 3 years ago | (#34002692)

here are some things that I think flip the bill of previous art though some of these things don't fit with the "on the internet". Subway, Arcade (chuck e cheese anyone?), golf ball machine (at driving ranges) tokens. I don't care if it's online or not though, it's still the same thing... it's a token. The idea of a token has been around forever. But knowing how our patent system works, this will get pushed through somehow. I listed the tokens above because I have witnessed many a token or ticket that on it said "no refunds", basically saying, you are not getting your money back from that token/ticket, so it sounds just like this patent to me. Casinos I would count out as you can go to the cashier and get the money back out (at least at real casinos), same with linden labs currency). Now MegaTouch casino games use a virtual token of sorts that turns real money into fake currency that you cannot get back though.

US Mint may have a problem (1)

ikeman32 (1333971) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011974)

If they get their patent would that not may our "real" currency virtually worthless? Oh wait it already is but then that would also mean they couldn't print any more money could it? Sorry bad pun.

ALL money is virtual (1)

PeterWone (985476) | more than 3 years ago | (#34023184)

All money is virtual. Coins and notes are storage media, not the thing stored. If you rip a ten dollar bill you don't get dollar coins falling out. At one time a Pound Sterling was redeemable at Her Majesty's treasury for one pound of sterling silver, sterling being a grade of silver. But with the rise of fiat currency, money is a pure abstraction, and the value of it depends entirely on whether you can get others to believe in its worth... a kind of consensual hallucination.

useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34098120)

Considering the fact that virtual currency is, at this point, pretty obvious, even if Zynga managed to obtain a patent, it might have difficulty actually enforcing it, if patent litigation [generalpatent.com] ever resulted from this or a similar invention.

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