March 9, 2012
In the comments of one of Ener's posts, Breen Whitman pointed out an application made by Google to patent virtual world based product design. The title of the patent application, which was made in April of 2009, is "METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR VIRTUAL WORLD BASED PRODUCT DESIGN". Here's the abstract …
"Systems and methods are provided for conducting the entire development process of new products, such as clothing or fashion designs, from conception through production in a virtual world. The virtual world is a multi-user three-dimensional persistent interactive graphical environment in which a plurality of avatars can interact as if interacting in the physical world to develop a new product. The avatars represent actual individuals that are contributors to the product development process. Each avatar can communicate with other avatars, can interact with and modify the graphical environment and can manipulate three-dimensional objects within the graphical environment for purposes of demonstration, explanation or review. Databases containing the necessary elements for product design are provided and are accessible by the avatars within the graphical environment. "
While we don't take our designs out into the real world, its all the prior process before that that we do. We conceive and design our products in a virtual world environment, including clothing and fashion design. We do so in "a multi-user three-dimensional persistent interactive graphical environment in which a plurality of avatars can interact as if interacting in the physical world" where "(e)ach avatar can communicate with other avatars, can interact with and modify the graphical environment and can manipulate three-dimensional objects within the graphical environment for purposes of demonstration, explanation or review."
What's more, this application uses clothing and fashion design as an example. The patent, if granted, would cover any and all products that are designed in a virtual world.
The application goes on to make 20 claims, with the very first one being "A method for product development, the method comprising: establishing a multi-user three-dimensional persistent interactive graphical environment; instantiating a plurality of avatars within the graphical environment, each avatar corresponding to and controlled by a real world individual involved in a product development process and each avatar capable of interacting with other avatars within the graphical environment and of interacting with the graphical environment; and using interactions among the avatars and interactions between given avatars and the graphical environment to develop a new product in the new product development process. " It does not cover the actual real world production process, only the design process.
I know that this application is about using a virtual world for the design of real world products, and perhaps I'm overly paranoid, but this patent application overlaps what we do in all ways. I would love to believe that this patent would only be applied to real world production, but we live in a world inhabited by copyright trolls.
This application is not yet approved, so its time to contact the US Patent Office ( http://www.uspto.gov/ ) with our prior art, showing that we already do all this in our metaverse. Tell them how this could be abused to destroy our virtual worlds.