Blizzard v. Managing Intellectual Property (A)

By V. Viard, Pamela Yatsko
2006 | Case No. SM154A
Personal computer game maker Blizzard filed a lawsuit in 2002 against the developers of the bnetd project. The bnetd project was a volunteer effort of game enthusiasts and programmers frustrated with difficulties encountered playing Blizzard’s personal computer games on its 24-hour online gaming service. Via reverse engineering of Blizzard’s software, the bnetd developers created and disseminated a free open source software program that mimicked the playing experience while improving on some of its deficiencies. Blizzard, one of the world’s most successful PC game publishers and a part of international media conglomerate Vivendi Universal, charged the bnetd developers with breach of contract and various counts of intellectual property infringement. The defendants maintained that U.S. law, in an effort to spur innovation in the United States, protected their activities. The A case in the series describes the events leading up to a court-ordered mediation session between the two parties in October 2003. Students are asked, as business managers, to determine the legal and non-legal alternatives available to Blizzard and the bnetd developers, and to decide which strategy to pursue from each party’s perspective. The B case describes what Blizzard and the bnetd developers decided to do and what happened as a result. This case has a video supplement SM154AV Blizzard vs. Managing Intellectual Property, Paul Grewal.
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