The dispute came to light in September 2009 when PalTalk began patent infringement proceedings against Jagex, Activision Blizzard, Sony, Turbine and NCSoft, following achieving a favourable settlement with Microsoft for an undisclosed sum earlier in 2009. In its complaint, PalTalk accused Jagex's game RuneScape.com of infringing U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,822,523 and 6,226,686 entitled "Server-Group Messaging System for Interactive Applications." PalTalk further alleged that it had "suffered damages in excess of tens of millions of dollars" as a result of Jagex’s infringement of their patents.
Jagex has always regarded this lawsuit as frivolous and vexatious, simply a fishing exercise given RuneScape.com’s worldwide success. From the outset, Jagex has robustly defended its position, as it does against all claims it considers baseless. This view has been fully vindicated by the judgment of non-infringement by the US courts.
“It is exceedingly unfortunate that the US 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” said Mark Gerhard, Jagex CEO. “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. 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”.
It is Jagex’s corporate policy to engage in good intellectual property practices. Jagex endeavours not to infringe any third party intellectual property rights, and the judgment confirms that Jagex did not infringe PalTalk’s patent rights in this case.
Mark Gerhard said, “Thankfully the team can continue to focus all our attention on our passion for game development, however, we will not hesitate to vigorously defend our position against any patent trolls who bring lawsuits against us in the future.”