Updated Tue, Jul 16, 2013 by Martuk
GamePolitics is reporting that the patent trolls have surfaced from their cave-dwellings and are on the prowl once again. This time attorneys for Treehouse Avatar have targeted Indie developers Bad Pug Games (Starpires), Prairie Games (Minions of Mirth), Genesis (A Tale in the Desert), and Hitech Creations (Aces High).
According to the report, each developer received a letter around July 1st warning that Treehouse Avatar owned a patent (U.S Patent 8,180,858) to (and you’ll probably love this ambiguously worded description), “Method and system for presenting data over a network based on network user choices and collecting real-time data related to said choices.” A copy of the letter sent to Prairie Games has been posted over at GameLaw.org, and goes on to offer a licensing solution to avoid litigation, something that it's parent company (more on that below) seems to be heavily involved in.
In any case, the GamePolitics post does have one other handy little link to an IP Troll Tracker blog run by Steph Kennedy. Kennedy also maintains the That Patent Toll website, which is still under development but offers patrons a way to submit IP troll claims for review. Treehouse Avatar also has, in the past, also served infringement warnings/claim against LOTRO developer Turbine and Unistellar Industries.
Given that there has been so little information on just who Treehouse Avatar is, I decided to dive into the wide-world of the Internet to try and get a little more information. After sifting through the many informational grains of sand on the Internet, here's what I found: Treehouse Avatar is a subsidiary of Canada-based WI-LAN, a company made up of around 159 employees according to its LinkedIn page. WI-LAN began as a company that aimed to develop low-cost, high-speed wireless networking in 1992, but now focuses primarily on monetizing its growing number of patents. And, as their latest financial document indicates, the company has been involved in a rather large number of patent-related litigation claims in just the last year alone.