Controversy erupts over SpotON3D’s patent claims

Competing OpenSim hosting companies are concerned that SpotON3D‘s viewer plugin patent isn’t original, will hinder innovation, and that the company isn’t playing fair with the broader open source community.

Other developers, however, say that SpotON3D’s innovation can help energize OpenSim adoption — and the patent, if it is granted, may not be that burdensome to the community.

SpotON3D's welcome and orientation area as seen from their browser-based viewer.

The patent’s opponents include Kitely, an OpenSim hosting company with a Web-based viewer a key part of its future development, and LiteSim founder Gareth Nelson, who created a similar product in 2009. LiteSim was also a virtual world hosting company but has since gone under.

Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner

According to Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner, a SpotON3D patent will hurt innovation.

“We can’t afford to fight this battle alone and the community can’t afford for this battle not to be fought,” Tochner told Hypergrid Business, calling on the community to come together to keep the patent from being granted. “It will also force small companies to start spending resources on patents instead of actually making something useful.”

Kitely is a two-man, self-funded startup that currently has no revenues — it’s been hosting more than 900 regions for free for beta customers while it works to improve its on-demand technology. Meanwhile, SpotON3D has $300,000 in startup funding and 12 paid developers, according to co-founder Tessa Kinney-Johnson, and currently runs a little over 200 regions.

Kitely isn’t in direct competition with SpotON3D — it offers on-demand regions and allows customers to save copies of their regions locally via OAR files. SpotON3D runs a traditional grid architecture with always-on regions, and is a closed grid — exports of full regions are restricted. But a successful patent claim by SpotON3D, if broad enough, could potentially interfere with Kitely’s development.

SpotON3D’s chief direct competitors are InWorldz and Avination, each of which is more than four times the size of SpotON3D. However, the viewer plugin and the Facebook integration scheduled for September might attract new customers and allow the grid to jump ahead of the competition.

Visiting SpotON3D via their Facebook plugin. (Click on image to see higher resolution picture.)

All OpenSim-based grids — and even Second Life itself — could potentially benefit and attract users new to virtual worlds if the users were able to access the worlds via a website or a Facebook page, without having to download and install special viewer software.

Lawrence Rosen

According to patent attorney Lawrence Rosen of Rosenlaw & Einschlag, competitors are legally allowed to use patent-pending technology while the Patent Office is making its decision — which could take four to five years or more.

“But would you design a product that could potentially turn into a massive business, only to learn that in a couple of years you could be paying huge patent fees?” he asked.

This is a concern also for Tipodean, a company that makes a Web-based OpenSim viewer called BuiltBuy.me. Tipodean CEO Chris Collins asked SpotON3D to answer some questions about the viewer, such as what the patent covers.

“You have said clients should just use the tech as the patent is not approved,” he said. “This is hard for me to do as I cannot tell them what is coming.”

Prior art

One front in a potential patent battle is to show the patent office that SpotON3D’s technology is nothing new.

“This is not a particularly novel idea nor is the implementation very complicated,” said InWorldz software architect David Daeschler, commenting as Tranquillity Dexler on a discussion on the  Metaverse Traveller blog.

One example of previous implementations of this idea is inDuality, a tool created by PelicanCrossing and IBM in 2007 that allowed users to access a number of virtual world clients via a Web interface. (Read CNET review here.)

A screenshot of inDuality in the browser. (Image courtesy PelicanCrossing.)

“I used inDuality in 2007 -2008 which was rendering the Second Life client in a browser,” Tipodean’s Collins told Hypergrid Business. “It was cool.”

PelicanCrossing has ceased operations without finding a market for this technology, and the tool is no longer available.

Another potential precedent is Gareth Nelson’s bare-bones plugin, which has also failed to evolve into a viable commercial product.

“What nerve!” Nelson said in response to SpotON3D’s patent claims. “I’ll prior art their ass.”

LiteSim is still available to download as a plugin for Firefox.

“It could theretically work with other browsers with some work,” said Nelson.

He then offered some technical advice for how to do it: “To try it out, you’ll need to get the Gecko SDK. Once you have the Gecko SDK installed, you can compile the code using SConstruct.”

Both inDuality and LiteSim take existing Second Life viewers and package them up inside browser plugins. In a more generic sense, there are plenty of products out there that package up other types of software inside plugins, including viewers for other virtual world platforms.

For example, Alon Zakai, currently a software engineer at Mozilla, demonstrated a proof of concept last year for a browser plugin that runs a viewer for the Syntensity 3D game engine.

Austin Tate

“Embedded apps in a web page are very common, with a wide range of open source and proprietary libraries to assist in doing that as SpotOn3D have used,” said Austin Tate, director of the Artificial Intelligence Applications Institute at the  University of Edinburgh, in a comment. Tate is also known as Ai Austin in Second Life.

“The U.S., though, does tend to be more lax with initial granting of such patents which gives the lawyers a bit more to do,” he added.

According to Rosen, there are procedures that opponents of a particular patent can follow when the patent is being granted, before it is granted, and even after it is granted, to ask the Patent Office to reexamine the patent.

“But you have to know the patent application number,” he added. SpotON3D has not yet released its patent application number.

In addition, the decision of whether to fight a patent or not is a strategic one, and requires the assistance of an attorney capable of analyzing such patent claims. Rosen says he can advise a company about the risks that could affect an open source project, or companies relying on that open source project. But for strategic advice and analysis of patent claims, he would refer people to lawyers who specialize in that, such as his partner, Michael Einschlag.

Critics spotlight SpotON3D licensing issues

Some critics have argued that SpotON3D’s new viewer plugin is in violation of the viewer license terms.

Linden Lab released its viewer software under the GPL license — an open source license that does not allow proprietary derivative works. Anyone who builds a product based on the Second Life viewer must also release their source code and license their product as GPL.

The GPL license issue is completely separate from the patent issue, said Rosen. Rosen’s area of expertise is in open source software and open standards, and he has served as general counsel for the Open Source Initiative. The open source license terms of the underlying viewing software is not an issue that the Patent Office considers.

“What you patent are functions, processes, methods — things that you invent,” he told Hypergrid Business. “I don’t care whether that’s a derivative work or a work from Mars, if its a function that is patentable, then nobody can perform that function without a license.”

However, those concerned about the GPL license of the underlying code have other avenues to pursue to force SpotON3D to open up its code.

For example, depending on how closely the plugin is integrated with the viewer code, it may be considered a derivative work, and not a standalone piece of software. If its derivative, then it must be open sourced as well.

“The legalities of using GPL licensed code in this way are questionable and highly dependent on the method used for interaction between the plugin and the GPL licensed viewer code,” said InWorldz’ Dexler.

According to LiteSim’s Gareth Nelson, getting one of the Second Life viewers to work correctly inside a browser window takes some tinkering with the viewer’s source code.

“How do you integrate your plugin with the viewer without modifying the viewer?” he asked SpotON3D. “You can’t just alter the render target. There are changes to the input handling needed to make it work inside a browser plugin applet, so you patched the viewer too. Therefore, your claim that the plugin is 100 percent separate is false.”

As a result, Nelson said, people have the right to see the source code for the plugin.

According to SpotON3D cofounder and CEO Stevan Lieberman, who is also an intellectual property attorney with Greenberg & Lieberman, the company is in full compliance with GPL license requirements and has publicly released the relevant code elements.

“The plugin is an entirely separate program that has been designed to and does work on not only OpenSim, but also on numerous other programs,” he said in a comment at New World Notes.  “The technology encompassed in the plugin is patent pending world wide as well as copyrighted.”

According to Lieberman, SpotON3D customers will be able to use the plugin to embed the viewer into their websites so that visitors will be able to access their SpotON3D regions.

Other users may need to pay license fees.

“To ensure that SpotON3D has the necessary funding and investment support it is necessary to capitalize on SpotON3D’s patent assets,” Lieberman said.

SpotON3D’s other open source problem

SpotON3D’s services are based on two major pieces of open source software. One is the GPL-licensed viewer, a derivative of the Second Life viewer, which customers use to visit their grid. The other is the OpenSim software that actually runs their grid.

This is similar to the distinction between the browser used to visit a Website — Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome — and the underlying server software used to put the Website on the Web, typically Apache.

The open source code for the OpenSim virtual world software is distributed under a BSD license. This means that companies can modify it and resell those modifications without releasing them back to the community. Unlike with the viewer, derivative works do not have to be open sourced themselves.

And, in fact, many major backers of OpenSim, including IBM, do distribute commercial, proprietary versions of the software.

But most also contribute back in some way — bug fixes or new features, interface improvements, documentation, testing, even simply finding bugs and sharing details of when they appear.

According to SpotON3D’s critics, the company has been using the OpenSim software to make money — without sharing any of the improvements they’ve been making. This is legal, but it’s not nice, critics say.

“If we let this type of behavior go unchecked inside the OpenSim community then it will split the ranks and dissuade companies, including Kitely, from contributing code towards the common goal of an open metaverse,” said Kitely’s Tochner.

Tessa Kinney-Johnson

SpotON3D’s Kinney-Johnson said the company would contribute code back if it could.

“But we are blocked from contributing code, due to the fact that all our core coders regularly view and work on client code,” she said in a comment.

Since the OpenSim server software uses a different, and incompatible, license than the viewers, if OpenSim was contaminated by viewer code, it could hurt its business-friendly BSD license.

“We’d not want to be the ones to force the Opensim project into GPL status by abusing those rules,” Kinney-Johnson added.

And even if the rule prohibiting programmers from working on both viewer and server code was abolished as a result of the recent formation of a foundation to handle OpenSim licensing issues, other issues are involved as well, she said in a later comment, including the fact that much of the code that SpotON3D created has to do with features unique to SpotON3D grids — the multi-grid user registration, inventory and avatar systems, economy, marketplace, multi-grid content delivery platform, as well as beefed up content protection and security measures.

And it costs money to run the company, she said. “We are a for-profit project with over $300,000 invested and we do have bills to be paid and people to pay.”

Not a threat

To some developers, the SpotON3D patent is not a threat — it’s either a positive for the community, or can be easily circumvented, or is not core to the way that OpenSim works.

“Sure it’s a new idea, and that brings excitement,” said Alexsandro Pomposelli, CEO of the AvWorlds grid. “But it does not demonstrate any great functionality to have the viewer embedded in the browser. What’s the use of it? I myself would not waste time on it. I myself would prefer to have a normal Facebook plugin with a regular [standalone] viewer login. It’s more stable, and more secure.”

Tipodean’s Collins, who was previously general manager of the enterprise division at Linden Lab, also sees the excitement around the new approach — and its technical shortcomings.

“It is great,” he said. “And if it energizers the community, that is even better. There is a great energy for virtual worlds usage within organizations that I have not seen in a while. We are seeing a good amount of investment being spent on relevant options from several companies which benefit all users of virtual worlds.”

Meanwhile, SpotON3D’s approach — which downloads an existing viewer and puts it into a plugin wrapper — suffers from some of the same disadvantages as inDuality.

“It did not help with machines that could not run the Second Life client,” he said, explaining that the Second Life viewer and its derivatives all require a high-end graphics card and a fast computer to work well. Tipodean’s approach is to create a new viewer from scratch, using the Unity 3D platform.

“It can run on much lower-end machines,” he said. “Which, for Tipodean, is something we are really focused on. We want to get more users into virtual worlds.”

Crista Lopes

Meanwhile, according to OpenSim core developer Crista Lopes, professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, SpotON3D’s patent might not be that significant to folks working on the core OpenSim server software.

“I doubt this one is infrastructural in nature,” she said. “It may very well be bogus, like so many patents, but probably doesn’t pertain to the server side.”

And the patent filing itself might not even be about staking a claim to a particular technology, she added.

“In the vast majority of cases, patents are filed to attract investors, not to protect ideas in the original intent of the patent system,” said Lopes.

Note: When contacted by telephone, Tessa Kinney-Johnson declined to comment for this story and referred all questions to SpotON3D CEO Stevan Lieberman. As of the publication of this article, Lieberman has not responded, and neither Kinney-Johnson nor Lieberman replied to our emails.

maria@hypergridbusiness.com'

Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

  • Hi Maria,

    Regarding not being able to contribute back to OpenSim because of license incompatibilities, they can't use that excuse any more. The 6 month contribution barrier no longer exists for those who follow the required steps: http://justincc.org/blog/2011/06/30/announcing-th

    It takes some nerve for SpotOn3D, a venture-backed company, to claim that it is okay for them to use the source code that the OpenSim community has created but not give anything back because “We are a for-profit project with over $300,000 invested and we do have bills to be paid and people to pay.”. Especially when other people who do contribute to OpenSim also have mouths to feed and their own company's' competitive advantages to maintain. As you've correctly stated, my co-founder and I have been working on Kitely since October 2008 without getting any financial compensation or external funding and yet we've given all the improvements we've made to OpenSim back to the community. If we can do it so can they.

    Regarding the patent issue:

    The practice of getting other people to implement something for which you have patents pending without specifying what those patents cover has a name. Those patents are called submarine patents, "companies making use of submarine patents are sometimes referred to as patent pirates": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_patent

    SpotOn3D trying to ease the worries of the virtual world community while knowingly trying to patent the implementation they will likely use to compete shows bad faith on their part. If they continue to try to stifle competition using patent threats for something for which there is an abundance of prior art they should not be allowed to hide behind pretty words.

    There are several articles written by various researchers that show how software patents have hurt innovation in the US, e.g.: http://www.researchoninnovation.org/patent.pdf

    The Economist has recently published an article titled "patents against prosperity" that talks about how destructive they have been for the United States: http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica

    When I was young I thought that software patents actually protected the little guys and helped innovation. I've since learned how wrong I was. Software patents don't help create more innovation they stifle it and create a legal tax burden on people who actually build things. Once your competitors start getting them you are forced to get them yourself in order to have a deterrent from being sued, thus creating a cold war that takes resources that should have gone into R&D and wastes them on creating anti-competitive legal fortifications and attacks. For SpotOn3D to force the OpenSim community to enter this type of war is just wrong.

  • Gareth Nelson here, too lazy to login but there's a mistake in this article. Litesim was not a browser plugin – I experimented with developing one, but never got it to the proper release stage. What is on my site is just the bare bones and lets you wrap a patched SL viewer (it needs XSelectInput changed amongst other things, if anyone is seriously interested i'll dig up the code) in a browser applet – the viewer runs as a separate process. For various unrelated reasons, litesim went bust so nothing came of this work.

    However, running the viewer as a separate process and wrapping inside a browser applet is precisely what their approach is (and the fact the stock viewer doesn't work with this might indicate GPL breaches, I haven't analysed it properly yet) – so i've got very clear prior art on their claims and will happily work with many of the other devs who came up with this obvious concept at the same time to shut these parasites down.
    email [email protected] if your business depends on something this patent might infringe and i'll provide you with any help I can.

  • I think you slightly misrepresent what Crista said in your summary at the top that the patent won't be that burdensome to the community. Crista said it won't affect *server* development. But it could well affect client development, and will certainly affect development of web plugins.

    While, yes, patents may well be more for investors, it's not very difficult to imagine a small firm like this dying and ending up in the hands of a patent troll. Or, imagine Linden Lab buying SpotOn3D's patent, and deciding that they don't want competition in the browser plugin arena….

    Also, the "we can't contribute back because of OpenSim rules" is a complete red herring. While contributing back to core OpenSim would be ideal, they can still make their changes open source without doing that. That's what things like the Aurora project do.

    Ilan, re: the licence agreements and the 6-month contribution barrier, that's a proposal from Justin CC, it's not actually in place yet. Hopefully it will be soon, so that the client code barrier won't be a problem any more. Realistically, there are a lot of things that need people to look at both server and client to make OpenSim run better.

    In any event, I would urge that VW people in general boycott SpotOn3D, and spread the word that we should boycott SpotOn3D. The US is saddled with a horribly destructive patent system that allows software patents. The best we can do is make sure that those who would strive to exploit that patent system do not benefit from their poor decision to do so.

  • It's certainly fine to just release your patches to opensim in public – people who understand copyright law will be able to make use of themm without having to GPL the end result if they don't desire to do so.
    Basically, the opensim team believe that viewing GPLed code "taints" the developer and any code written (in a completely different language!) becomes a derivative work, but that's not how copyright law works. Copyright covers fixed expressions, not concepts or ideas. So using concepts from the viewer source in opensim is totally fine. It's patents that cover ideas and concepts, not copyrights.

    Now, that's irrelevant as regards the BSD team's silly rules true, but it means you can release your patches without fear. Also, personally i'd slap the GPL on your patches anyway – nothing wrong with a GPLed server, even if you don't want to share the source – clients connecting will not be receiving a server binary, thus the source disclosure terms do not apply.

    disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, but i've worked with the GPL for a long time and know the law in this area well. If you want professional advice ask your own attorney or the guys at the SFLC (Software Freedom Law Centre) – the SFLC guys provide pro-bono counsel for free software projects and are the ones who write the GPL license documents.

  • Where are the marketable facts here? And what are the above contributions really adding to this discussion except for moral appeals? I'm certain we all know that a lawyer has no morals, and will do it, and another lawyer will try to screw him…

    • The marketable facts are that SpotOn3D has failed to draw any critical mass despite several astroturfing / spamming attempts, and talking big about their "innovations". It's really not about morals, but about bad, very bad, business. Luckily, so far it didn't work out for them, and my guess is it won't this time either. The quote from Rosen (“But would you design a product that could potentially turn into a massive business, only to learn that in a couple of years you could be paying huge patent fees?” he asked.) shows that this is more a decoy to scare the competition and please their investors than anything. My bet is that by the time the patent really registers, SpotOn3D won't exist anymore.

      • Super Doug

        Wow you got that last part right lol [

  • I guess there's no such thing as bad publicity when SpotOn3D is concerned.

  • 16 hours ago on Facebook – Gaz Lee writes: Has the Spoton3d facebook app been pulled? I can't seem to find it any longer.

    • Gaz — The Facebook plugin is in private beta. I hear it will be officially released in September. Meanwhile, you can see the plugin in a regular webpage here: https://3durl.com/world

  • Here's the facts:
    Lots of people (myself included) have prior art on this, it's an obvious way to get a VW into a browser.
    Should a patent be granted, SpotOn3D will be able to abuse it to bully competitors out of the market without actually bringing anything new, since the technology already existed.

  • Will Burns just posted an interesting opinion piece about the SpotON3D patent, in which he points out another example of prior art — ActiveWorlds' launched a Facebook-embedded viewer in 2007:
    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Activeworlds,+Inc.+

    Screenshot here: http://lh4.ggpht.com/-wiOj7IxEFu8/TjmiCgIEOII/AAA

  • kripken

    The GPL issue is not entirely separate from the patent issue. When you release code under the GPL – and SpotON3D claim that they do/will release their viewer code, as they must – then you grant an implicit patent license. So people using that code would have a license from SpotON3D, assuming the viewer code actually implements the patent we are talking about here.

    The only technical details so far (aside from "VW viewer in a browser") appear to be that it is a plugin that interfaces with multiple other programs, running in their own processes, by proxying user input to them and getting rendering data back (or connecting them directly to the right elements in the rendering system). If that is the core of their patent, then the idea is not novel in any way and has been implemented before, for example exactly that is done in the Syntensity plugin mentioned here. That implementation is open source so it is publicly available and can hopefully be useful as prior art.

    It's possible the patent pertains to something else and this and other examples are not prior art. In that case there is probably nothing to worry about – the old implementations already include basically everything you need.

    – kripken

  • This links to the "Official Statement from SpotON3D's CEO Stevan Lieberman":
    http://spoton3d.blogspot.com/2011/08/official-sta

    I read it and, since they misrepresented what I said, I posted the following in their blog, I doubt they will publish it:

    "
    Hi Stevan,

    Having read your official statement I wish to state that:

    (A) Stating that I claimed that the reason the viewer may need to be licensed under the GPL is because "the browser is installed at the same time as the plugin, thus it is essentially the same software" is a blatant misrepresentation of what I said. I said:

    "
    First, the GPL program (the original unmodified SL viewer that their viewer is derived from) is not designed to accept plugins that take over the rendering target and have keyboard and mouse commands rerouted from another process. They may have added this capability to it (I haven't checked) but then it would no longer be "unmodified" and therefor no longer qualifying for the exception you believe SpotOn3D can use to relieve themselves from the requirement to release their code under GPL.

    Second, you've seemed to overlook the quotations I provided from the GNU site specifying that:

    "However, in many cases you can distribute the GPL-covered software alongside your proprietary system. To do this validly, you must make sure that the free and non-free programs communicate at arms length, that they are not combined in a way that would make them effectively a single program."
    http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLInPro

    "By contrast, pipes, sockets and command-line arguments are communication mechanisms normally used between two separate programs. So when they are used for communication, the modules normally are separate programs. But if the semantics of the communication are intimate enough, exchanging complex internal data structures, that too could be a basis to consider the two parts as combined into a larger program."
    http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#MereAggr

    Unless SpotOn3D do some very frowned upon hacking their plugin would need to modify the SL viewer in order to work, thus (A) not qualifying it under your quoted exception, i.e. it does not work with an "off-the-shelf, unmodified, program" and (B) making it very likely that their combined program will be considered by a court of law as "effectively a single program" thus needing to be licensed under the GPL.
    "
    http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2011/07/opensim-in-faceb

    (B) You ignored all that I and the community have said about the inherit anti-competitive and exploitative nature of SpotOn3D's conduct. Instead you chose to just restate the various claims that have been made by SpotOn3D in the articles that have been written about this. People have had a lot to say about the validity of those statements, I recommend you read all that they have written.

    Repeating the statements that have gotten you in the hot chair in the first place is probably not the best way to calm the situation. Please take a step back and reconsider.
    "

    Whomever drafted their response did not take Public Relations 101. Restating falsehoods is not the best way to respond when you are caught with your hand in the communal cookie jar.

  • technically LL can reign them in for us because they hold the copyright on the viewer code base. If they are indeed violating the GPL they are breaking LL copyright by distributing it. the same goes for the plugin wrapper even if its not GPL. If the licence has any sort of requirements such as an advertising clause which most BSD licences have they would violate that by not disclosing who has the copyright to the code(aka who wrote it)

  • Breen Whitman

    Congratulations on this article Maria. It is the in the highest calibre of virtual world reporting. The virtual world community benefits greatly from this qualitty.

  • David Cartier

    In a situation like this the best response is that any patent application should be protested vigourously and if necessary, challenged legally. Linden Lab is the party which needs to address this situation before it creates an awkward legal precedent. SpotOn3D needs to learn that when you stand on someone else's shoulders, you do not wear cleats.

  • You need the registration number to effectively read the document file… no number, no document… what is all this speculation about? Hearsay?

  • Hi James,

    If we let people stake a claim over pieces of the viewer or the server in order to demand that other people who wish to compete with them "pay up" then there won't be free options or communal work towards creating a shared ecosystem. Even the threat of a patent can cause problems and, as other people have pointed out, many people aren't able to defend themselves even when the patent is completely bogus.

    It is therefore the interest of the community to create an atmosphere that dissuades companies from trying to stifle competition using patent threats. It is completely irrelevant whether those patents are for things that are innovative or not, if you let one person claim to own an idea for software then others will do so as well and no one will give back anything to the community.

    Companies are held accountable by their share holders. If trying to use a software or business patent becomes overly expensive to the company doing so due to bad PR or lost sales then even existing patent holders will avoid using them as offensive tools.

    In the long run this type of defensive activism by the community can result in politicians who currently have no reason to vote for the abolishment of software and business patents to decide to listen to their constituents and take a stand for the better good.

    Once these types of patents are removed from the valid tools a business can use then the patent cold war in the software industry will cease to exist. This will free up a lot of money towards actually creating innovative R&D and return people to compete on features and price instead of hoarding ill-thought legal tools of mass destruction.

    Just read all the research on how much the current situation is bad for innovation in the United States. We can't wait for companies or the government to get around to finally resolving the problem. We need to take a stand together as a community and force companies to act in ways that are, in the end, for their best financial interest as well.

  • If anyone is interested in checking out REAL web plugin rather than a wrapper should look no further than http://www.builtbuy.me Unity3d plugin for SL and Opensim. You have been able to embed that in Facebook or were ever really for some time.

  • Those who know of documented PRIOR ART can submit it to the US PATENT OFFICE, directly targeted at the PATENT APPLICATION, and its examiner. Look in the USPTO.GOV, in the PAIR section.

    • Believe me, I would do so (and I imagine the 10 or so others with prior art would do so) if I had a patent application number – do you know what it is? You'd do the community a great service in letting us know.

  • Adam Frisby

    If I recall correctly, Blaxxun and other VRML plugins were all web based, many multiplayer, and all availible around 1995-1999…

  • SpotOn3D Press

    This is an official statement from SpotON3D

    Due to the reaction of the OpenSim community about our World on the Web plug-in and the pending patent, we’ve decided to take the debate to another level and give everyone – BOTH SUPPORTERS AND NON-SUPPORTERS, the chance to bring their ideas and questions directly to us one-on-one. Our goal here is not to win anyone to a particular way of thinking, but to try answer the biggest questions and at least understand each other's POV. And who knows? Maybe this can help start a continuing dialog between the OpenSim community, SpotON3D and the many other grids out there.

    Stevan and I will try and answer as many questions as possible in a 1-1.5 hour period of time. Due to a previously schedule business trip, Stevan will most likely only have one hour. I will be staying an extra half hour or more if necessary. I can not answer any legal questions, because … well, I’m not a lawyer! Any questions about the legal aspects of the patent, plug-in or other legal matters not answered at this event can be addressed directly to Stevan via email at [email protected].

    THE VENUE< TIME< DATE – August 7th at 8 am PDT/SLT/MVT
    The meeting place will be in SpotON3D in a Quad MegaSim called OUTREACH. Any and all voice chat in the main sim will be relayed over all four sims, so please be patient and fair to everyone else. This mega sim will hold about 150 people, so it will be on a first come first serve basis. Below you’ll find some general guidelines

    This event will be filmed, archived and uploaded to our media page, as well as the usual web sites for everyone, so that everyone will have something to review and point others to.

    We are looking forward to this being a productive event for both SpotOn3D and the community. You can teleport directly into OUTREACH ISLAND, if you have the World on the Web Plug-in installed on your Windows PC, (sorry MACers and Linux guys … that's next on our to do list) and just click on the 3DURL below – works just like a SLurl. http://3durl.com/map/veesome/Outreach%20Island/13

    Thank you!
    Tessa & Stevan

  • Due to the reaction of the OpenSim community about our World on the Web plug-in and the pending patent, we’ve decided to take the debate to another level and give everyone – BOTH SUPPORTERS AND NON-SUPPORTERS, the chance to bring their ideas and questions directly to us one-on-one. Our goal here is not to win anyone to a particular way of thinking, but to try answer the biggest questions and at least understand each other's POV. And who knows? Maybe this can help start a continuing dialog between the OpenSim community, SpotON3D and the many other grids out there.

    Stevan and I will try and answer as many questions as possible in a 1-1.5 hour period of time. Due to a previously schedule business trip, Stevan will most likely only have one hour. I will be staying an extra half hour or more if necessary. I can not answer any legal questions, because … well, I’m not a lawyer! Any questions about the legal aspects of the patent, plug-in or other legal matters not answered at this event can be addressed directly to Stevan via email at [email protected].

    THE VENUE< TIME< DATE – August 7th at 8 am PDT/SLT/MVT
    The meeting place will be in SpotON3D in a Quad MegaSim called OUTREACH. Any and all voice chat in the main sim will be relayed over all four sims, so please be patient and fair to everyone else. This mega sim will hold about 150 people, so it will be on a first come first serve basis. Below you’ll find some general guidelines

    This event will be filmed, archived and uploaded to our media page, as well as the usual web sites for everyone, so that everyone will have something to review and point others to.

    We are looking forward to this being a productive event for both SpotOn3D and the community. You can teleport direclty into OUTREACH ISLAND, if you have the World on the Web Plug-in installed on your Windows PC, (sorry MACers and Linux guys … that's next on our to do list) and just click on the 3DURL below – works just like a SLurl. http://3durl.com/map/veesome/Outreach%20Island/13

    Thank you!
    Tessa & Stevan

  • Hi Tessa & Stevan,

    If you truly wish to talk to people in an open exchange of ideas then why not address them where they are asked in public forums instead of in your own closed venue?

    Do you wonder to why I object to having this discussion inside SpotOn3D's grid, here's why:

    If you are really open to what other people are saying why misrepresent what I said in your previous press release then block my rebuttal comment on your blog? Its text was included here as well:
    http://metaverse-traveller.blogspot.com/2011/07/s

    If you are open to a public discussion then why hide the reply comment from Rob Knop who also posted a reply on your forum:
    http://scientopia.org/blogs/galacticinteractions/

    As of now both our replies are still missing from the comment section below your press release even though this comment section now includes two other comments – people can see you are hiding our comments you know…

    We know you read at least some of the various articles that have been written about your conduct as you've added your comments to them. Why force people to register to your grid, and attend at the time that is convenient to you instead of just answering people in blog comments like people from the community are doing?

    There are several people who have written replies in almost all those comment threads that discuss your patent threats. Are those people, myself included, more willing to spend time talking to other people in forums they do not control than you are?

    I will not condone having this discussion turn into a marketing opportunity for your grid, under your own timetable, with you controlling how long people can discuss the issue. If you want a truly open discussion then begin by taking the time to address the many questions people have already asked you in the multiple threads that deal with this:
    http://metaverse-traveller.blogspot.com/2011/07/s
    http://scientopia.org/blogs/galacticinteractions/
    http://cityofnidus.blogspot.com/2011/08/spoton3d….
    http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2011/08/controve
    http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2011/07/opensim-in-faceb
    http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2011/08/spoton3d
    http://iliveisl.com/patents-or-how-browser-access
    http://iliveisl.com/how-your-online-voice-matters

    • Ilan, are you worried at all about the Reaction Grid's patent filing, a few months ago, about deploying OpenSimulator regions?

  • james

    Wonders if Apple is backing Spoton3d…. sure smells like Apple patent war crap…
    someone should really look into who backed that 300,000K.

    If it is Steve Blowjobs and crew then OS developers might want to patent every cingle 0,1 of the code fast before he claims it by being the first to patent the "art"….

  • I really dont see anything of value with this web plugin being talked about here. No advantage and its not secure! Somethings are best kept the way it worked and worked well! Look at all the confusion that its causing now!
    It is also a way of being very selfish. Cant compete the old fashion way so they will try to enforce patents on competitors. Very nice

  • Hiro Pendragon

    Isn't VRML prior art? Someone remind me if I'm in the same room as a Spoton3D person and I don't realize it, so I can tell them off.