Townsend Names Will Harvey in Patent Suit Over Virtual Reality and IMVU

Nov 03, 2005, 00:00 ET from Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP

    SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- A patent lawsuit was filed today in
 the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
 against Palo Alto, Calif.-based Avatar Factory, and its founder Will Harvey, a
 noted gaming software developer. (Forterra Systems, Inc. v. Avatar Factory, et
 al., Case # 05-CV-4472).
     The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Forterra Systems by Townsend and
 Townsend and Crew LLP, a 170-attorney law firm specializing in intellectual
 property and complex litigation. The suit charges Avatar and Will Harvey with
 infringing a patent pertaining to instant messaging in a 3D virtual
 environment. Harvey was the founder of a company called There, which pioneered
 software offering virtual reality chat rooms over the Internet. San Mateo-
 based There changed its name to Forterra Systems, which owns the patent
 asserted in the lawsuit -- a patent that bears the name of Will Harvey. Will
 Harvey left There and formed Avatar Factory. The suit alleges that a new
 virtual reality business holding itself out as IMVU (instant messaging virtual
 universe) infringes the patent for messaging in a 3D virtual environment
 developed and patented while Harvey was at There.
     "This case presents a recurring challenge in Silicon Valley regarding the
 ability of entrepreneurs to start a company and contribute intellectual
 property such as the patented technology in this case to attract investments,
 and later leave to start another venture that may infringe the intellectual
 property rights created during the earlier venture," said Byron Cooper, a
 partner with Townsend who represents Forterra.
     "The world of virtual reality is growing at a rapid pace as computers and
 the Internet gain speed, which allows users to meet in cyberspace to interact
 in virtual worlds. Some of this interaction takes place in virtual reality
 between 'avatars,' human like animated forms that can show expressions and
 take on unique identities," says Cooper.
     One of the largest IP specialty firms in the western United States,
 Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP teams with businesses, inventors,
 entrepreneurs, scientists and investors to protect their innovative products
 and ideas. With offices in San Diego, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Walnut Creek,
 Denver and Seattle, Townsend has more than 160 attorneys, many with advanced
 technical degrees and extensive scientific and business experience. For more
 information, visit the firm's Web site located at

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