Jagex, the UK game dev behind RuneScape, refused to be intimidated by patent trolls Paltalk, who claim a broad patent on what amounts to all online multiplayer gaming. Microsoft settled a similar bogus claim last year, giving Paltalk a war-chest and a precedent with which to continue with nuisance suits against other MMO companies, including Sony, Blizzard, Activision, and others.
Jagex spent "tens of millions of dollars" in cash and time defending itself against the claim, but eventually prevailed. I'm reasonably certain they could have settled for less, since Paltalk's protection racket depends on a string of easy settlements for credibility and cash, but by talking a stand, Jagex has helped to break the cycle by which a company whose main product these days is lawsuits is able to extract millions from firms that are actually making things that people want.
The ruling favors Jagex, but for company CEO Mark Gerhard, the damage is already done. "It is exceedingly unfortunate that the U.S. legal system can force a company with a sole presence in Cambridge, UK to incur a seven-digit expense and waste over a year of management time on a case with absolutely no merit," he said in a statement.
"This anomaly, which could easily break smaller studios, doesn't happen in the UK since you can pursue frivolous litigants for the costs of such claims," he added. "We are particularly disappointed that Paltalk did not, at any stage prior to filing the lawsuit, seek to contact us to clarify that Jagex's game platform did not infringe Paltalk's patents."
While a settlement may have have been less costly than drawn-out litigation, Gerhard said that Jagex "will not hesitate to vigorously defend our position against any patent trolls who bring lawsuits against us in the future." Reps for Paltalk did not immediately return request for comment.