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IBM Patent Claims to Invent Group Travel, Except “in the Metaverse”

IBM is no stranger to virtual world patents.

Last year, we looked at how we would implement travel between unrelated virtual worlds, when we accidentally stumbled across an IBM patent from 2013 which touched on that very concept. IBM described a system that would read your personal profile (friends, interest, age, etc) and teleport you to a region in your destination that compliments your profile.

This month, the US Patent and Trademark Office published a new patent application from IBM, called System and Method for Group Control in a Metaverse Application. In short, it looks like a standard method for online group travel, except, “in the Metaverse”.

The concept is simple. The patent details an innovation where a “group link engine” allows users to be invited into a group. Once inside the group, a leader can control their actions. They then add in additional obvious claims, such as the ability to transfer leadership, to temporarily remove a member from the group, to send out invitations to the group, and to record movements.

Are we witnessing the start of patents which take an obvious concept and then claims that it is something new because it is “in the Metaverse”? One can only hope that the USPTO can see through such obviousness.

Trademark Battle: Oculus VR vs Oculus Info

oculusinfo

Oculus Info logo

The company formerly known as Oculus Info reported that in 2013, the United States Patent and Trademark Office refused to register Oculus VR as a trademark, and as a result, Oculus VR initiated proceedings with the USPTO to try to cancel Oculus Info’s existing trademark.

This isn’t the only trademark-related court case with Oculus VR, the first being Oculu vs Oculus VR.

Our original research unveiled more about this new case which barely made it into the public eye. In the end, the two parties reached a confidential settlement with undisclosed terms, and the case was dismissed with no further litigation. The trademark for Oculus Info was cancelled. Oculus Info became Uncharted Software Inc in February 2015.

If you would like more information about case, it was filed as a civil case in the Virgina state court, case #1:14-cv-00436-AJT-TRJ. You might find additional interesting information inside some of the supporting documents.

Timeline of events (as seen in public records and as told by Oculus Info):

  • 2008 July – Oculus Info applies for a trademark
  • 2011 May – Oculus Info’s trademark is registered
  • 2013 February – Oculus VR applies for a trademark
  • 2013 May – Oculus VR warned of issues by USPTO, given chance to respond
  • 2013 November – Oculus VR responds
  • 2013 November – USPTO communicates with Oculus VR, sends suspension letter
  • 2013 November – Cancellation proceeding initiated (reported to be on behalf of Oculus VR) at USPTO against Oculus Info
  • 2014 April – Oculus Info takes Oculus VR to court on trademark issues
  • 2014 June – Settlement agreement between Oculus Info and Oculus VR
  • 2014 August – Oculus Info’s trademark is cancelled
  • 2014 December – Oculus VR’s trademark is registered
  • 2015 February – Oculus Info becomes Uncharted Software

Was Oculus VR trying to bully a smaller company? Was Oculus Info trying to leverage a weak or improper trademark? Did Oculus VR pay Oculus Info for the trademark? These are good questions, but we do not expect to find those answers. It ended in a confidential settlement agreement.