A company named Treehouse Avatar Technologies was granted United States Patent No. 8,180,858 in May of this year, which covers a "Method And System For Presenting Data Over A Network Based On Network User Choices And Collecting Real-Time Data Related To Said Choices," according to the patent's title. In other words, it covers a method of taking and tracking user choices over a network, a vague description to say the least.
Nevertheless, Treehouse has decided to use the patent to take on Lord of the Rings Online
and Dungeons and Dragons Online
creator Turbine, Inc., and has sued the game maker for infringement
on a number of counts, including character attributes like Strength and Charisma. Specifically, Treehouse mentions "the feature of tallying the number of times the selected character attribute(s) have been selected by users of the game."
Too vague? That's for the courts to decide, apparently. Treehouse is aiming for a full injunction against Turbine from using the system described by the patent, and for "adequate compensation" in damages. The full complaint is available to read online