Title:
Mediation of Disputes in a Virtual Environment
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A mechanism for dispute mediation and resolution in a virtual environment is provided. The mechanism may involve the breach of a virtual contract and the determination of suitable penalties against the breaching parties. In some embodiments, the mechanism may include a judge or jury comprising members of the virtual community.


Inventors:
Mueller, Michael Raymond (Highlands Ranch, CO, US)
Van Luchene, Andrew S. (Santa Fe, NM, US)
Application Number:
11/755539
Publication Date:
07/02/2009
Filing Date:
05/30/2007
Assignee:
LEVIATHAN ENTERTAINMENT, LLC (Santa Fe, NM, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GONZALES PATENT SERVICES (4605 CONGRESS AVE. NW, ALBUQUERQUE, NM, 87114, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method comprising: providing a virtual environment wherein players are able to interact with each other and the virtual environment via avatars; providing a dispute resolution module configured to resolve disputes between avatars in the virtual environment, the dispute resolution program being configured to: identify a virtual contract established between two or more parties in the virtual environment; identify the terms of the virtual contract; determine if one or more of the terms has been breached by a party to the contract; and determine a penalty to be imposed against the breaching party.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein determining if one or more of the terms has been breached by a party to the contract is performed automatically.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein determining if one or more of the terms has been breached by a party to the contract is performed in response to a request from an entity interacting with the virtual environment.

4. The method of claim 2 further comprising: determining the parties to the virtual contract; and alerting the parties that the contract has been breached.

5. The method of claim 2 further comprising creating a queue of disputes to be resolved.

6. The method of claim 1 further comprising: receiving a bribe from an entity interacting with the virtual environment; and altering the penalty.

7. The method of claim 1 further comprising assessing the penalty.

8. The method of claim 1 wherein the penalty is a financial penalty imposed against a virtual world financial account.

9. The method of claim 1 wherein the penalty is a financial penalty imposed against a real world financial account.

10. The method of claim 1 wherein determining if one or more terms of a virtual contract has been breached comprises: identifying an entity who will review evidence regarding the virtual contract and performance by the parties related thereto; and receiving a decision as to whether or not the contract was breached from the entity.

11. The method of claim 10 wherein the entity is a jury comprising one or more avatars interacting with the virtual environment.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein identifying an entity who will review evidence regarding the virtual contract and performance by the parties related thereto comprises: determining avatars in the virtual environment to be part of the jury.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein determining avatars in the virtual environment to be part of the jury comprises selecting avatars at random.

14. The method of claim 12 wherein determining avatars in the virtual environment to be part of the jury comprises selecting avatars based on one or more qualifications.

15. The method of claim 14 wherein at least one of the qualifications is the receipt of a payment from one or more parties to the virtual contract.

16. A method comprising: providing a virtual environment wherein players are able to interact with each other and the virtual environment via avatars; providing a dispute resolution module configured to resolve disputes between avatars in the virtual environment, the dispute resolution program being configured to: identify one or more virtual contracts established between two or more parties in the virtual environment; identify the terms of the virtual contract; monitor the activity of the parties to the virtual contract; and determine if a term of the virtual contract is likely to be breached by at least one of the parties.

17. The method of claim 16 further comprising alerting one or more parties to the virtual contract that the virtual contract is likely to be breached.

18. The method of claim 17 further comprising: determining that a term of the virtual contract has been breached.

19. The method of claim 18 further comprising determining a penalty to be imposed against the breaching party.

20. The method of claim 19 wherein the penalty is termination of the virtual contract.

Description:

BACKGROUND

Virtual Environments which are accessible to multiple subscribers via a server are well known. For example, hundreds of thousands of players access games known as massive multi player online games (MMOGs). Players of these games customarily access a game repeatedly (for durations typically ranging from a few minutes to several days) over given period of time, which may be days, weeks, months or even years. The games are often constructed such that players pay a periodic subscription price (e.g., $15 per month) rather than, or in addition to, paying a one time purchase price for the game. Often, though not necessarily, these games have no ultimate “winner” or “winning goal,” but instead attempt to create an enjoyable playing environment and a strong player community. Virtual communities like Linden Lab's “Second Life” provide a three-dimensional metaverse in which people (who may or may not pay a fee for the right to access the metaverse) create avatars that are able to interact with other avatars as well as the local environment. It would be advantageous to provide improved methods and apparatus for increasing the enjoyment and/or longevity of these virtual environments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram depicting a system 10 according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Massive multi player online games (MMOGs) or massive multi-player role-playing games (MMORPGs) are computer game which are capable of supporting hundreds, thousands, or millions of players simultaneously. Typically, this type of game is played in a giant persistent world where the game continues playing regardless of whether or not real players are logged in. Players commonly access these games through a network such as the Internet, and may or may not be required to purchase additional software or hardware in order to play the game. Such networks allow for people all over the world to participate and interact with each other in a virtual environment. The present disclosure provides systems and methods which contribute to the evolution and longevity of such a game. According to various embodiments, the present disclosure provides various event-driven mechanisms for avatar alteration in a metaverse.

Accordingly, the present disclosure provides various methods and systems which are suitable for use in a virtual metaverse. As used herein, the term “virtual” includes the concept “in a computer-generated environment or other intangible space.” Further more, a “metaverse” includes a collection of online virtual environments which are accessible to one or more players of one or more online games or communities. In some embodiments, certain areas in a metaverse may be restricted to some players. Examples of metaverses include Massive Multi Player Online Video Game (MMPOVGs) such as World of Warcraft and virtual communities such as Second Life.

MMPOVGs (sometimes referred to as Massive Multi Player Online Role Playing Games MMPORPGs) include video games and virtual environments that are provided by and accessed via at least two video game consoles connected to a Video Game Central Server via a network such as an internet or intranet, or as part of a peer-to-peer network including at least two Video Game Consoles. In some embodiments, players create and/or control characters that may interact with each and their surrounding virtual environment in a Metaverse that is stored on the Video Game Central Server and/or the Video Game Consoles.

According to numerous embodiments, in order to access a particular, metaverse, virtual environment, or game, a video game console Video Game Central may be in electronic communication with a video game server. A video game server may include a CPU, memory, and permanent or temporary storage and be in electronic communication with multiple players via multiple video game consoles. As such, the plurality of players are able to interact with each other as well as the metaverse by accessing the video game server via their video game consoles.

Referring to FIG. 1, a network system 10 according to one embodiment includes a central server 20 in communication with a plurality of video game consoles or playing units 18. Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that any number of video game playing units may be in communication with the central server. Typically, the number of video game playing units changes at various times as players join games and as players stop playing games. Similarly, more than one server may operate to coordinate the activities of the video game playing units, as is well known in the art.

Central server 20 may comprise any computing device (e.g., one or more computers) capable of communicating with other computing devices. The server 20 typically comprises a processor which is in communication with a storage device, such as an appropriate combination of RAM, ROM, hard disk, and other well known storage media. Central server 20 may comprise one or more personal computers, web servers, dedicated game servers, video game consoles, any combination of the foregoing, or the like.

Each video game device 18 may comprise any device capable of communicating with central server 20, providing video game information to a player, and transmitting the player's desired actions to the central server. Each video game device typically comprises a processor which is in communication with a storage device, such as an appropriate combination of RAM, ROM, hard disk, and other well known storage media. Suitable video game devices include, but are not limited to, personal computers, video game consoles, mobile phones, and personal data assistants (PDAs).

Some or all of video game 17 can be stored on central server 20. Alternatively, some or all of video game 17 may be stored on the individual video game devices 18. Typically, the video game devices are able to communicate with one another. Such communication may or may not be facilitated by central server 20. Accordingly, a player 19a accessing video game 17 via game device 18a may be able to play with a player 19b accessing video game 17 via game device 18b. As shown, it may be possible for multiple players (e.g. 19c, 19d) to access central server 20 via the same game device (e.g. 18c).

Regardless of whether video game 17 is stored on central server 20 or video game devices 18, server 20 is typically configured to facilitate play of the game between multiple game players.

The games and metaverses wherein these games take place are typically accessible to player via a video game console. For the purposes of the present disclosure, “video game consoles” include devices comprising a CPU, memory, and optional permanent storage residing at a player location that can allow for the playing of video games. Examples include, home PCs, Microsoft Xbox, and Sony Playstation, Wii, Playstation portable, etc. Dedicated video game consoles may be useful for only playing video games, while multifunctional video game consoles, such as personal computers, PDA's and the like may be useful for performing multiple tasks including, but not limited to playing video games.

As stated above, a particular metaverse may include one or more virtual or game environments. For the purposes of the present disclosure the terms “virtual environment,” “game environment” and the like include a region, sub-region or area of a metaverse such as a country, city, era, building, etc., which is in some way recognizably different from another region, sub-region, or area of the metaverse.

It will be understood that a “game” as used herein need not be a “game” in the traditional sense of a competition in which a winner and/or loser is determined, but rather that the term “game” incorporates the idea of the metaverse regardless of the intended purpose. Accordingly, both World of Warcraft and Second Life would be referred to as games for the purposes of the present disclosure. Moreover, a person or entity who enters the metaverse in order to conduct business, tour the metaverse, or simply interact with others or the virtual environment, with or without competing against another entity is still considered to be “playing a game.”

According to an embodiment, the present disclosure provides a system that allows virtual entities to register a dispute with an entity having authority within the virtual environment or metaverse. The virtual entity, registering the dispute may be a private individual, corporation, or government entity. Accordingly, the entity may act as a virtual plaintiff, prosecutor, complainant, or defendant in the dispute.

For the purposes of the present disclosure the term”

A virtual dispute may include any breach of an agreement, player-to-player contract, lawsuit or any difference of opinion or disagreement by, between or among or otherwise involves or affects any two or more players, player characters and/or virtual entities or any third party, e.g., between one or more plaintiffs and one or more defendants, (or any combination of the foregoing) regarding any real or virtual world activities (past, present or future) including, but not limited to, commerce, objects, outcomes, services, combat or other game play results, business dealings, currency (real or virtual) or any other contested event or situation within a Game Environment or that may be resolved within a Game Environment, or that affects or could affect one or more player's or player character's or the Game Environment or any in game objects, and/or any real or virtual assets, currencies, liabilities, financial positions, or obligations (past, present or future), including those that have been, are or may be affected in the real world. A virtual dispute may be a virtual lawsuit, a virtual class action, civil suit, criminal suit or any other type of dispute or lawsuit. For the purposes of the present disclosure, the term “dispute” is intended to refer to a virtual dispute.

For the purposes of the present disclosure, the term “plaintiff” includes any player, character and/or entity that initiates a virtual action against one or more player characters and/or entities in order to seek a remedy for a virtual dispute, whether or not the action is a civil, criminal or other type of action. Accordingly, unless otherwise stated, the term “plaintiff” is intended to include plaintiffs, prosecutors, complainants and the like. Similarly, the term “defendant” may be used to describe any player, character, or entity against whom a virtual action has been initiated.

Accordingly, for ease of discussion, the terms “virtual action” and “virtual lawsuit” may be used interchangeably to generally describe any dispute-resolution-based action taken by a plaintiff against a defendant within the Game Environment that seeks a remedy of any kind via an authoritative agency. For the purposes of the present disclosure, the terms “virtual lawsuit,” “lawsuit” and “case” shall have corollary meanings.

According to an embodiment, Virtual entities may agree to pay or actually pay a real cash or virtual fee in order to register a dispute. The central registration system collects the dispute fee and/or data and stores it in a queue of disputes. Evidence of any type, including, for example, in the form of testimony of one or more players, saved virtual environment footage or transaction or change logs, and/or any other stored data or information gathered and/or expert testimony, can be submitted by the virtual entity as part of the dispute submission.

In one embodiment, the dispute, along with any evidence, is submitted to a panel of one or more players or other duly authorized individuals who can vote on the mediation or dispute outcome. In another embodiment, the central system resolves the dispute using an AI program and rules. If the AI program is unable to determine an outcome, such case may be submitted to a panel of players, player characters or a virtual court, which may make use of a virtual jury. Such submission may include any analysis or conclusions drawn and/or other information, e.g., evidence provided/gathered, by said AI program.

According to another embodiment, once the mediation or lawsuit outcome is determined, the virtual entities in the dispute are notified and a mediation or lawsuit outcome contract is created, which contains obligations for the virtual parties. The virtual entities involved in the dispute are bound by the mediation or lawsuit outcome contract. The system tracks whether the virtual entities have fulfilled part or all of their obligations. Once the obligations have been fulfilled, the contract status is set to “fulfilled” or “settled” and the virtual entities that are party to the contract are notified and/or the case is marked as “closed”.

In certain embodiments, the system may automatically determine that a player-to-player or other contract or agreement between virtual entities has been violated. In such cases, the system may automatically notify the affected parties and/or only one of such parties, e.g., the potential plaintiff and/or the potential defendant(s), so as to permit one or the other or both to determine what additional action might be taken. For example, a potential defendant might choose to cure any such actual or threatened breach of contract. Or, a potential plaintiff might contact a potential defendant, providing him with options or acceptable alternatives that might help avoid a potential lawsuit.

In some embodiments, the system might automatically submit any found or suspected violations of any such contracts or agreements and/or any other violation of any real or virtual law to an authorized investigative body, e.g., a virtual police or other investigative force, and/or to one or more virtual court(s) and/or, if sufficient information is available, make a determination of the facts and/or outcome and/or penalties, if any, relating to any such virtual dispute or lawsuit. Such a determination may be made via any applicable means, including, for example, by comparing the terms and conditions or expected actions or outcomes of any such agreements or contracts with data stored or tracked concerning the interested parties. Since all actions, failures to act, or any other activities can be tracked and stored in a virtual world or video game or virtual environment, comparing such virtual world, video game or virtual environment actions, failures to act and/or data and/or any real world data that is generally accessible by such a system, with expected actions, decisions, outcomes, financial information, etc., e.g., one or more account balances, status of assets, e.g., item exists and/or is in good condition, financial balances, delivery of items, goods or services, performance of a task, accomplishments, outcomes of battles, taking or not taking certain actions, etc., the disclosed invention can determine if such action, failures to action, outcomes or other activities, etc., were the expected outcomes and if not, what penalties could or should be imposed and/or which actions or outcomes must be accomplished to avoid one or more penalties. By comparing actual outcomes with expected outcomes, an automated determination can be made. Such determination may be stored or communicated to one or more of the interested parties.

In certain embodiments, players and/or other entities enter into contracts that define the terms and conditions or expectations of such agreements/contracts. Exemplary methods to create such agreements are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/279,991, 11/611,050, 11/355,232, and 11/624,662, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

In certain embodiments of the present invention, When creating an agreement or contract, those that are involved with such contract creation may choose to include dispute resolution actions and/or penalties or fines.

In certain embodiments, players and or player characters may wish to be represented by real or virtual counsel. In some embodiments, such counsel may or may not be required to have formal or proven credentials. In other embodiments, such counsel must first apply and/or be approved to serve as legal counsel. Fees may be charged to retain such counsel. Fees may be determined via any applicable means, including, for example, through negotiations between counsel and client. Such fees may be charge for retaining such counsel, and/or may be based on a one time fee for a given case, and/or may be based upon any other methods including, hourly fees. Methods to provide for virtual counsel or other virtual professionals, e.g., to procure expert testimony, and/or any other required or desired virtual professional services are disclosed in co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. ______ (attorney docket no. 3111101) “Virtual Professional” which is hereby incorporated by reference.

In some embodiments, actions can include anything that can be performed by the affected parties and/or measured, tracked or confirmed by the system and/or via manual methods, including, for example, a requirement to complete the original task within an allotted “cure period” which period may be specified in terms of numbers of days, hours, turns, or other measurement period. Alternatively or additionally, cure provision might require additional or substituted tasks, or payments, or delivery of additional items or of differing materials or quality or quality of workmanship, or free delivery, or reduced price, or any other terms and conditions agreed upon by the affected parties.

In certain embodiments, such agreement(s) may include fines or penalties should one or more of the parties fail to fulfill any part or all of any one or more of any obligations defined under any such agreement(s). For example, should a party fail to fulfill an obligation, the agreement may specify certain penalties such as, a fine that is to be paid by the defaulting party to the non-defaulting party, or an obligation of confinement, e.g., a player character or all the player character's of a player account may not be permitted to play part or all of the video game, and/or the player character(s) might be confined to a virtual jail or a “cornfield” for a proscribed period.

In some embodiments, when one or more player characters are confined, such player or player characters may be precluded from accessing any part or all of any one or more video game or other virtual world environments and/or may be restricted from using or making use of or otherwise benefiting from any one or more virtual items, player character's assets, and/or game play, etc., and/or performing any one or more tasks. In some embodiments, such confined players or player characters may be permitted limited game play if required to fulfill any other contractual obligations relating to or unrelated to the disputed agreement.

In certain embodiments, if it is determined by the system and/or a virtual court and/or mediation or arbitration panel or other authorized entity or governing body, e.g., a virtual jury or virtual appellate court that a given player or virtual player has violated the terms of a virtual agreement and/or habitually violates one or more virtual agreements, such player or player character(s) may be fined and/or barred from further game play (temporarily or permanently) and/or may be charged a higher fee for such game play, and/or such player or player character(s) may be precluded from entering into any subsequent or certain types of additional contracts or other agreements.

In certain embodiments, players, player characters and/or any affected or otherwise interested or authorized parties, may receive one or more alerts as to the status of a given contract or agreement and/or any of its terms and conditions and/or any determination that there has been or might be a breach or cure of any contract and/or any one or more of its provisions. Such alerts might include the name of the affected parties, the name or other identification of the agreement or contract in question, the cure period, if any, the fines or other possible penalties if the agreement is breached and/or there is a failure to cure any such breach, and/or any other applicable information. Alerts might be delivered via email, instant message or via any other applicable means. Exemplary methods for sending such communications and/or alerts are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/676,848, which is incorporated herein by reference.

In certain embodiments, when or if a player or player character has been fined for failure to perform under a given contract, such fine may be imposed or collected in the form of a tax, a new or increased tax or a more frequently collected tax. Exemplary methods to impose and collect taxes are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/696,080, which is incorporated herein by reference.

In certain embodiments, players may enter into agreements that may be secured by real or virtual assets, including, for example a real or virtual credit card. In the event a player or player character violates one or more of the terms and/or conditions of such an agreement, a credit card may be charged the value or actual damages of such breach and/or any fines or other penalties that may be imposed by a virtual court or virtual jury and/or that may have been pre-established within such agreement. For the purposes of the present disclosure, the term “credit card” may include any instrument that advances currency to the credit card owner in return for a promise to repay the advanced amount. Additional fees and/or interest may or may not be imposed. Examples of real world credit cards include those credit cards commonly referred to under the names “Visa,” “Mastercard,” and “American Express.” In some embodiments, the term “credit card” may further include debit cards or other instruments that result in an instantaneous or near-instantaneous transfer of currency from the purchasing party to the selling party.

In some embodiments, whatever amounts are due and owing from one entity to another, e.g., a defendant to a prevailing plaintiff, may be collected immediately, by moving such funds from the defendant's account to the plaintiff's account and/or by sending an invoice to the defendant, permitting the defendant to determine the method of payment, which payment may be subject to a time limitation imposed by the virtual court, virtual jury and/or the system or as pre-established in the agreement among the affected parties, and/or such fine, penalty, etc., may be collected immediately or at a future date, e.g., after a cure or other defined period, from said defendant's credit card on file or as listed in such agreement(s). Exemplary methods to secure a contract using a credit card are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/279,991, 11/611,050, 11/355,232, and 11/624,662, each of which were incorporated by reference above.

According to some embodiments, the order in which disputes may be heard or settled may be determined by a queue. Accordingly, in some embodiments, virtual entities can pay to have a particular dispute settled before other disputes that are in a queue. For example, if a plaintiff determines that a given lawsuit could provide such plaintiff with substantial value if settled and/or prosecuted, but the lawsuit is not due to be tried for many months due to a backlog in a virtual court, the plaintiff might choose to pay a fee to move up a case within a queue of other cases. The fee may be determined by any applicable means, including, for example, a fixed fee per position that the case is moved up within the queue, or by market forces and/or via direct negotiations with others within the queue, or by using a system that provides for priority queuing. Exemplary methods to provide for payment of a fee or to otherwise modify a position of an item within a queue are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/462,621 and 11/611,024, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

In certain embodiments, two or more entities, e.g., players or player characters that belong to a class of entities or players, e.g., all players that have purchased a certain item, skill, or service, or are customers of a given real or virtual entity, may decide to join together and file a virtual class action lawsuit. In such cases, the individuals within such an action may, in certain embodiments, forgo the option to file any actions(s) separately and/or may give up certain rights in exchange for joining a class action suit. Class action litigants may also agree, in advance or at some other time, to share in any proceeds from any such class action. Sharing of proceeds may include any agreed upon terms and conditions and/or those established by any law, rule or regulation of the virtual environment, video game, or any other governing body, e.g., a virtual congress, etc. The terms may define which players, or player characters or other litigants are to receive any proceeds and/or what fees or share may go to virtual professionals, e.g., one or more real or virtual attorneys. In some embodiments, sharing is based upon a percentage, e.g., the virtual attorneys might receive 40% of the proceeds of the litigation and the remaining balance might be divided equally among the litigants and/or might be split based upon percentages of involvement, etc.

In certain embodiments, a certain percentage of a given class of possible litigants must agree to join in such class action for the class action suit to be permitted by the video game, virtual environment and/or virtual court, or otherwise. For example, if 100 player characters (the “class”) purchased a virtual shield, and the shields later proved defective, some or all of the player characters, may choose to file a class action lawsuit, However, the players wishing to file the class action lawsuit may only be permitted to do so if 75% or more of the class agree. Percentage requirements may be fixed or vary by type of class action and/or by any suitable factors including, but not limited to, game environment, video game, virtual environment, era, type or nature of action, size of action, e.g., total real or virtual dollar amount, and/or number or type of players or player characters, etc., and/or any other applicable means, which may be determined or established via any agreement among the litigants, and/or rules, laws or regulations established when the video game, virtual environment, era, world is created or any time thereafter, e.g., by a virtual congress or other governing body.

In some embodiments, any entity or individual subject to a class action lawsuit, e.g., a virtual defendant, may opt to settle out of court by agreeing to pay a certain amount to one or all of the litigants.

Insurance policies can be issued to virtual entities to cover disputes based on mediation outcome. An insurance policy may be limited based on whether or not save virtual environment footage is submitted.

In certain embodiments, the system can determine the appropriate mediator(s) or jurors to place on the mediation panel or virtual jury based on the dispute details and the mediators' specific mediation expertise. For example, if a lawsuit is filed involving an agreement between parties concerning the sale of virtual real estate, the system might find one or more mediators using any applicable means, including, for example, the availability and/or background of one or more players, player characters or third parties that a) have either agreed to serve, for free or for a fee, and/or have agreed to volunteer or are otherwise designated as being available to serve on a jury or mediation panel, b) have served in the past on a virtual jury or mediation panel, c) have experience in the real world with real estate or real estate law, d) have served as a mediator in the real world, e) have been involved with or entered into one or more unrelated successful or unsuccessful similar cases, f) have professional credentials and/or have served in a real or virtual legal, or realtor capacity, g) have served on one or more panels or juries and have received a rating or qualification score from one or more of the involved parties and/or objective or other observers, or h) any combination of the foregoing. Once identified by the system as a possible panel member or juror, the system may further determine a) if the person, player or player character is available to serve, b) the price for services, if any, c) the relative skill or score or other credentials of the candidate vs. other available candidates, d) if such person, player or player character has one or more conflicts of interest, e.g., is or has served on any other related cases and/or familiar with the plaintiff and/or defendant and/or any of their respective counsel or representatives, or has any connections or ties with any judge, other jurors or any relative or related entities of any of the foregoing, or may benefit or suffer harm based upon the outcome of the case or the impact of the outcome on either the plaintiff, or the defendant and/or any of their counsel or other entities, e.g., business dealings, and/or such outcome might affect, favorably or unfavorably, the status of the candidate and/or any of his existing or pending agreements, transactions, relationships, etc., or e) any combination of the foregoing or any other measurable metric, e.g., such candidate has provided a financial instrument, e.g., a credit card, to secure such agreement, or any of the affected/interested parties or otherwise.

According to some embodiments, mediators or jurors can be rated by virtual entities who have submitted disputes to them. In certain embodiments, before, during, or after determining the outcome of a dispute, the reviewing body, e.g., a virtual court or mediator may be permitted or requested to review the lawsuit or case based upon its merits, evidence, claims, actual or potential penalties or fines, etc. Such entities may provide a score as the quality of the case and/or the likely outcome if the case were reviewed and/or a score may be provided regarding any of the litigants, including, for example, their attorneys and their skills to prepare, present or prosecute any such case. A score for any case, or any related entities may be determined using any applicable means, including the manual assignment of a score. An automated or manual score may be stored for current or future use/reference. For example, such scores may be used by future litigants to assist such litigants in deciding which attorney or mediator or court should be used and/or would best serve such litigant's best interests in light of the case at hand. Scores may be used to determine if a case will be heard and/or when it will be heard and/or if a case warrants a hearing with a mediator or a court or an appellate court, etc., and/or if a case should be dismissed prior to a hearing if it scores poorly or low as compared with other similar and/or pending cases. Scores may be used to determine a position of a case within a queue, e.g., cases with higher scores may be heard ahead of cases with lower scores.

In some embodiments, mediators or jurors can receive skills in particular types and classes of disputes as they are part of mediation panels about certain types and classes of disputes.

In some embodiments, virtual entities can pay a higher fee to have more experienced mediators review the dispute. In certain embodiments, all or some cases or cases with a certain score may be heard by more or less experienced mediators and/or such determination may be made, in whole or in part, upon the willingness of one or more of the affected parties to pay a fee or a higher or lower than usual fee to hear or delay or reprioritize any given case or cases. Such fees may be determined via any applicable means, including, for example, by agreement among the parties, open market forces, via a bid or exchange system, or based upon fees established by the game owner, judge, mediators, juries, or any other duly authorized governing body established for the purpose of determining such fees.

In some embodiments, virtual entities can pay to choose one or more of the mediators or jurors on the panel. For example, each of a defendant and a plaintiff might pay a fee so as to select one mediator or arbitrator to serve on an arbitration panel, with each of them then agreeing to select yet another, i.e., third, mediator or arbitrator that is natural to each party's interest in the case. Such payment may permit the entity to select a specific mediator or arbitrator or judge, and/or it may only permit the entity to select a category or specific or general set of credentials and/or scores or other discriminating criteria.

In another embodiment, all mediators, judges, arbitrators and/or jurors are selected at random and/or randomly from a pool of potential participants, and/or randomly from a group or pool of qualified participants.

In some embodiments, virtual entities can appeal a dispute resolution decision, or a selection of one or more mediators to be on a panel. A fee can be charged for appeals and the dispute can be resubmitted to an appeals board or appellate court. Such courts may or may not follow US appellate laws or the laws of one or more foreign countries.

In certain embodiments, the decisions of a mediation or arbitration panel or a virtual court may be binding upon any and all players and/or player characters or any virtual entities. Such binding effect may be enforceable in virtual or real courts based upon such individual's prior agreement, e.g., when signing up to play a video game, or other pre-existing agreement. If a decision is appealed to a real world arbitrator or court, in certain embodiments, the system may package all information, testimony, evidence, agreements, and/or any other information that is available relating to the case, may be gathered and stored or accessed by non-players, e.g., real world attorneys, juries and/or judges for further examination and/or use in any such real world arbitration, mediation or court proceedings.

In some embodiments, if the mediation panel finds that a registered dispute is not valid, they can charge an additional fee to the registering party. Additional fees may be charged for any reason or reasons, including, for example: a) failure to file the case with the necessary forms, documents, materials, b) type of case, c) size or severity of the case, d) background of the defendant and/or plaintiff and/or any one or more of such party's counsel, e) prior cases and/or their outcomes, f) number of pending cases, g) complexity of the case, e.g., cases that require expert testimony may incur a higher fee than those that do not, h) amount of time required to decide or render an opinion on the case, i) whether or not the case is set for a jury trial or not, j) if the case is an arbitration case vs. a trial case, k) civil vs. criminal proceedings may carry a different fee or fee structure, l) or any combination of the foregoing or any other discriminating factors and/or rules established by any duly authorized governing body, e.g., the game owner, a congress or other entity charged with such duties and/or any other entity that possess the right to pass any such rules, regulations or laws.

In some embodiments, if the mediation panel finds that a registered dispute is valid, the fees initially charged to the registering party can be reallocated and charged to the at-fault party. Allocation of any such fees, and/or reallocation or distribution of such fees or charges may be accomplished via any applicable means, including, for example, all or nothing, percentage of liability, based upon number of hours spent on the case, one or more scores associated with the case, the severity of the case, the need or use of a jury trial and/or the insistence of one of the parties to hold a jury trial vs. a mediation, the degree of responsibility for each of the affected/interested parties, and/or any combination of the foregoing.

In some embodiments, virtual footage that is stored, accessed and/or submitted by either or both parties can be altered to prove the case of one party or another. Alterations can occur within the confines of a rules-based system. For instance, different camera angles can be used, but the footage cannot be cut in a way that it does not flow in real time. The voice or text file, e.g., closed captioning, of a conversation can be submitted or not submitted, but it cannot be edited. A system can detect whether or not submitted footage was altered and can highlight alterations made by comparing the footage to saved game data. Footage can be certified before submitting it as evidence by checking the degree of alteration and approving the footage if the degree of alteration is below a certain threshold. In certain embodiments, changes may be permissible if the player or player character possess a certain skill or potion or pays a fee. In such instances, the other players or player characters may or may not be able to determine if such changes have been made, unless they have acquired or otherwise obtained certain skills or attributes in the virtual world to do so. For example, the other “i.e., non-changing” party may be able to determine that such changes were made if the other party pays a fee, acquires a skill or potion, or randomly. In such embodiments, other players or player character(s) may discover any or all or a part of any such changes. If changes are permitted or otherwise found, such changes could cause an immediate decision in favor of the non-altering party, and/or such change could affect a mediator's or judgess or jury's decision as to the validity of the altered and/or all or part of all the other evidence submitted by the altering party, and/or may affect one or more opinions as to the credibility of any such party and/or their witnesses and/or any other submitted evidence, whether or not any such additional evidence shows any proof of tampering or alterations.

In certain embodiments, a virtual entity plaintiff can submit a dispute about a defendant. The defendant is alerted and given a time period to either cure the cause of such dispute and/or submit a rebuttal. The mediation panel can then review the dispute and the rebuttal and submit a (proposed) resolution.

In some embodiments, mediation can occur with or without a court date. A court date can allow a plaintiff and defendant the opportunity to argue the dispute or rebuttal that they submitted generally at the same time and/or within each other's virtual or real presence. Plaintiffs and defendants can pay a fee to have their court dates prioritized ahead of other court dates previously set and/or to maintain a position within a queue, i.e., and prevent other cases from being prioritized ahead of such case.

In certain embodiments, a dispute may be resolved by submitting the case to a religious leader such as a priest, or a governmental leader, such as a town or city mayor, or to any other authorized body or individual, including, for example, to a “town meeting” where other player characters of the same virtual township or clan or other association or organization, e.g., citizens of a given virtual country, town, county, etc., may hear a grievance or case between two or more such citizens or player characters. In some embodiments, decisions made by the authorized body hearing the dispute will be fully enforceable and final, while in other embodiments, decisions may be subject to appeal or submission to a virtual or real world court.

In some embodiments, mediation can occur based on a decision of a virtual judge and/or jury, the decision of one or more mediators, the decision of a judge alone, or the decision of a jury alone or a combination of two or more of any of the foregoing and/or via automated means.

In certain embodiments, player characters who are citizens of a game environment or a government in a game environment can be assigned jury duty. The system can randomly or systematically select virtual citizens, e.g., player characters, for jury duty. When a virtual citizen is selected for jury duty, a virtual contract is created. Citizens can pay a fee not to fulfill the contract, or to be removed from the jury selection process. The system can also select virtual citizens for jury duty based on rules and/or information known about the case and/or the virtual citizen, e.g., potential conflicts of interest, bias, prior service, favoritism, and/or randomly, or any combination of the foregoing and/or using any other discriminating information. Jury selection may or may not follow or use laws that govern juries of the USA or any Federal or State laws that govern jury selection, use, dismissal, etc. The laws of the State of Delaware and those of US Federal court are incorporated herein by reference and may be used, in whole or in part, for the selection of a jury and/or for the interpretation of any virtual contract and/or to determine the outcome of a virtual lawsuit, and/or may be amended from time-to-time in either the real or virtual world.

In certain embodiments, jury members, mediators, and/or Judges can all receive or accept bribes from plaintiffs and/or defendants and/or any other related or interested parties, e.g., counsel for the plaintiff and/or defendant. In certain embodiments, such bribes are permitted only in the case where actual damages or losses are claimed, and/or the game environment permits such bribes. Alternatively, the system can monitor transaction activity and penalize jury members, mediators and judges who have been determined to have received bribes from plaintiffs and defendants. In certain embodiments, fictitious litigants, including, for example, NPC's, may be used to offer bribes to determine if one or more jurors, mediators and/or judges are willing to accept such bribes. In the event the system, or other entity using manual or automatic investigative methods, determines that a person or entity has or is willing to accept one or more bribes, the penalties for such acceptance and/or proclivity to accept bribes includes, for example, a) disbarment, in the case of a virtual professional, e.g., attorney, b) temporary or permanent exclusion from being considered and/or to participate or testify or judge or hear any case, court, mediation, arbitration or any other similar proceedings, c) a fine (real or virtual) or incarceration for some period, d) a change may be made to such player character's avatar, e.g., the avatar may be made to look like a “big, fat, greedy, pig”, to indicate that such player character is a dishonest, as applicable, judge, juror, arbitrator, mediator, attorney, or expert witness, etc., e) or any combination of the foregoing. Exemplary methods to provide for changing a player character's avatar are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/694,648, which is incorporated herein by reference.

In certain embodiments, mediators can be assigned to a dispute based on the virtual economic value of the dispute and the skill level, experience and/or availability of the mediator. Mediators with higher skill levels can be assigned to disputes with higher economic values and/or to those whose litigants are willing to pay a higher prosecution fee.

In addition or in the alternate, a percentage of the resolution value can be given to the mediator, judge, and/or jury and/or paid by the plaintiff, defendant, or both.

In some embodiments, a virtual insurance provider can provide the mediation system as part of submitting a claim to them. Exemplary methods to provide for the creation, management and processing of insurance claims are provided in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/462,621, which is incorporated by reference above.

In certain embodiments, end users, including mediators, arbitrators, judges, counsel, plaintiffs and/or defendants, or any other players, player characters, or third parties may make use of one or more notes and/or other attachments. For example, when prosecuting a case, a judge may attach one or more notes to the court records, e.g., a dispute case file or database, which notes may include any pertinent information regarding the case and/or its outcome. Notes may be attached to any database record or document as permitted by the system via any applicable means available. Exemplary methods to provide attachment of notes into documents and/or associate notes with documents, or words, or other data are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/690,095, 11/697,480, and 11/697,486, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

In some embodiments, disputes can only be registered by virtual entities that are virtual citizens of a particular virtual jurisdiction.

In some embodiments, additional evidence can be gathered by interviewing witnesses. Witnesses can be chosen by the plaintiff, the defendant, or both. Witness testimony can be submitted, certified, and stored with the dispute record. In certain embodiments, if a witnesses testimony is later found to be intentionally falsified, such witness may be subject to a lawsuit and/or fines. For example, if a witness lies and such lie is later discovered, such witness may be required to pay a fine. The fine may or may not be based in whole or in part upon the final outcome of the case. For example, if the defendant lost the case, and had to pay a $5,000 fine, and one of the witnesses lied, several actions may be taken including, for example, a) the lying witness may be fined $500 or $5,000 or even $50,000, and/or barred from future testimony and/or their avatar may be temporarily or permanently modified, b) the defendant may be permitted to request a new trial and/or receive all or part of such fine back from the plaintiff and/or the liar, c) a portion of the defendant's fine may be returned and due from the plaintiff and/or the liar, such portion may be determined using any applicable means, including judgment rendered by a judge, mediator or jury, and/or based upon a percentage of responsibility, e.g., what percentage of the judgment or the amount paid that was due to such lies or false testimony. In certain embodiments, effective lying or lying in general may be a permitted as an enjoyable part of game play. In such instances, witnesses may be rewarded for lying and/or for getting away with deception. In other embodiments, such deception may be forbidden and witnesses may be required to execute an enforceable agreement or otherwise swear to be truthful prior to providing any such testimony.

In several embodiments, historical archives of disputes can be stored and used to create case law. An AI system can use the case law to decide how to mediate future disputes or right actual laws that govern future activity in the game environment or a jurisdiction of the game environment.

In some embodiments, player characters who are found at fault during a dispute can have their player score altered, temporarily or permanently, based on being negligent or otherwise at fault. In some embodiments, player characters' avatars may be modified or altered to indicate that they have been found guilty at one time or another. Such modifications may be permanent or temporary and/or may be viewable by all parties or only selected parties. For example, a player character that has been found guilty of stealing another player character's items may have the hands of their avatar cut off. Such “handless” avatar may show the “stumps” as bleeding for a period of time, e.g., just after being found guilty, but such “wounds” may “heal” and the bleeding may stop, e.g., one month after being found guilty. If such a player character is found guilty again, such bleeding may resume for some additional period, perhaps indefinitely, after a third such offence. Changes to an avatar can serve several purposes including, for example, an annoyance or reminder to player characters not to commit or recommit an offence or another offence, and/or as a warning to other player characters.

In certain embodiments, cases involving agreements between players, and/or other entities, may be brought in real world courts, with outcomes and decisions made by real world courts or arbitration or mediation proceedings. In such embodiments, players or player characters may agree, in advance or at any other time, that penalties imposed by a real world court will be assessed in the virtual world in addition to, or instead of, in the real world.

In certain embodiments, players or player characters may be required to execute an agreement before being permitted to play the game, and/or to enter into contracts. The agreement may require players or player characters to submit to the authority of the video game or virtual environment and/or any one or more of its virtual courts, virtual juries, and/or arbitration or mediation panels and/or as may be established from time to time. Such agreement may also require players or player characters to permit injunctions or other legal measures to enforce virtual contracts.

In certain embodiments, electronic records may be kept regarding any or all of a) player to player or other contracts and/or agreements, b) actual game play of some or all players or player characters and/or NPC's or other entities, c) video game or virtual environment game states, database states, including before and after states, images, change logs, etc., d) outcomes or results of any actions or any decisions or failures to act, e) simulated video image capture from each player or player character's point of view and/or the point of view from any or all points in any or all directions, including those of any NPCs, or other characters, including, virtual cameras, which may be limited or unlimited in their use and/or placement, and or field of view and/or point of view, etc., f) any and all data, communications, alerts, messages, information, system settings, etc., or any combination of any or all of the foregoing, and, which may be captured on a continual or periodic basis, e.g., every second, or daily, etc., and/or based upon events as or when or if they shall have occurred, or at any other time as determined by the game owner, designer, rules, or other system, and/or based upon rules established by one or more player characters and/or any other duly authorized governing body, and/or which may be modified from time-to-time by any one or more of the preceding, and/or any combination of the herein defined entities. Such information may be used by a) plaintiffs, b) defendants, c) law enforcement personnel or automated enforcement systems, d) the disclosed system, e) any court, arbitration or mediation panel, f) any affected, interested or authorized party or entities, and/or g) any combination of the foregoing.

In certain embodiments, players or player characters or other entities may file or be subjected to a lawsuit even though no real or virtual agreement or law has been broken or violated. In such instances, litigants only need to present their case with whatever evidence they have and, optionally, their proposed solution or settlement recommendation and the person, court, judge, jury or arbitrator hearing such case can make their own determination. Fines and/or other penalties imposed in such instances, where there are no laws, case laws or other rules or regulations, may be determined in the sole but reasonable discretion of such person, court, judge, jury or arbitrator. In yet another embodiment, fines and penalties may be established generally or specifically that govern such decisions or cases that are prosecuted absent any prevailing law, rule or regulations.

In certain embodiments, virtual trials may be conducted similarly or exactly like real world trials, following pre-established procedures and/or laws. Any rules and/or laws may be passed or imposed by any duly authorized governing body, and/or the game owner, a body of player characters or players established for such purposes, etc. . . . , and/or such procedures and/or laws may be based in whole or in part upon existing real world procedures and/or laws and/or case or civil laws, such as those of the United States of America, and/or those of the State of Delaware, each or all as amended from time-to-time, or not, and each and all of which are incorporated herein by reference, which laws, procedures and/or precedence may be used in a modified or unmodified or any combination with any new or modified laws, procedures, precedence created or passed within the virtual world. For example, in some embodiments, a video game may adopt one or more US Federal and/or State laws and/or legal precedence at the time of game formation or some other point, but then, rely in whole or in part, upon the players or player characters to establish their own government, and laws, rules, regulations, etc. In this fashion, a large, well established rule of law can be quickly adopted, while permitting each virtual game environment to evolve, in whole or in part, separately from the real world.

In another embodiment, existing laws, rules, regulations, procedures, precedence, etc., are established based upon real world equivalents and such equivalents are maintained and modified only if and when their real world equivalents are actually modified, or amended, acted upon, or voted into law by their real world counterparts and/or decisions are made by appellate courts regarding or relating to any or all of the foregoing, and/or such a system may permit limited additional virtual laws to address issues not yet experienced or addressed in the real world, and/or any combination of the foregoing. In the event that such laws, rules, regulations, decisions, precedence's, etc., do not address or are otherwise silent or unaware of applicability in a virtual environment, such laws, rules, regulations, decisions, precedence's, etc., may be applied in the virtual environment or video game as if such laws, rules, regulations, decisions, precedence's, etc., were drafted or do apply to the virtual world or environment or video game as if such virtual world, environment, or video game actually existed, and any and all such laws, rules, regulations, decisions, precedence's, etc., that have been incorporated herein by reference are hereby so modified so as to apply equally to the virtual and real worlds. In certain embodiments, players or player characters may be required to execute one or more agreements to enable any one or more of the disclosed methods and/or virtual laws, rules, regulations, decisions, precedence's, etc., prior to or subsequently to access to such virtual environment, world or video game and to acknowledge the validity of any one or more or all such laws, rules, regulations, decisions, precedence's, etc.

In some embodiments, virtual entities can purchase “mediation outcome insurance” that covers damages owed by them based on the mediation decision. The game server or a third party system can offer such service and fulfill claims based on recorded outcomes of the mediation.

Those having skill in the art will recognize that there is little distinction between hardware and software implementations. The use of hardware or software is generally a choice of convenience or design based on the relative importance of speed, accuracy, flexibility and predictability. There are therefore various vehicles by which processes and/or systems described herein can be effected (e.g., hardware, software, and/or firmware) and that the preferred vehicle will vary with the context in which the technologies are deployed.

At least a portion of the devices and/or processes described herein can be integrated into a data processing system with a reasonable amount of experimentation. Those having skill in the art will recognize that a typical data processing system generally includes one or more of a system unit housing, a video display device, memory, processors, operating systems, drivers, graphical user interfaces, and application programs, interaction devices such as a touch pad or screen, and/or control systems including feedback loops and control motors. A typical data processing system may be implemented utilizing any suitable commercially available components to create the gaming environment described herein.

Accordingly, the presently described system may comprise a plurality of various hardware and/or software components such as those described below. It will be appreciated that for ease of description, the variously described hardware and software components are described and named according to various functions that it is contemplated may be performed by one or more software or hardware components within the system. However, it will be understood that the system may incorporate any number of programs configured to perform any number of functions including, but in no way limited to those described below. Furthermore, it should be understood that while, for ease of description, multiple programs and multiple databases are described, the various functions and/or databases may, in fact, be part of a single program or multiple programs running in one or more locations.

Exemplary programs and hardware/software architecture include:

1. Central Server

    • a. Dispute Registration and Resolution Program
    • b. Dispute Queuing Program
    • c. Billing Program
    • d. Contract Creation, Issuance and Fulfillment Program
    • e. Tax Program
    • f. Insurance Program

2. Databases

    • a. Dispute Database
      • i. Dispute ID
      • ii. Description
      • iii. Details 1-N
      • iv. Dates Occurred On
        • 1. Filed Date
        • 2. Resolution Date
        • 3. Other Tracking Dates 1-N
      • v. Plaintiff ID 1-N
      • vi. Plaintiff Counsel ID 1-N
      • vii. Defendant ID 1-N
      • viii. Defendant Counsel ID 1-N
      • ix. Contract ID 1-N
      • x. Claims 1-N
      • xi. Cure Period
      • xii. Cure Provisions 1-N
      • xiii. Assigned Court ID 1-N
      • xiv. Assigned Judge ID 1-N
      • xv. Assigned Jury ID 1-N
      • xvi. Disposition/Resolution/Outcome ID 1-N
      • xvii. Fines/Penalties 1-N
      • xviii. Confinement ID 1-N
      • xix. Score/Ranking
      • xx. Notes 1-N
    • b. Contract Database
      • i. Contract ID
      • ii. Name
      • iii. Description
      • iv. Terms and Conditions 1-N
      • v. Rules 1-N
      • vi. Penalties for non-performance 1-N
      • vii. Confinement ID for non-performance 1-N
      • viii. Drafted By ID 1-N
      • ix. Accepted By ID 1-N
      • x. Notes 1-N
    • c. Entity Database
      • i. Entity ID
      • ii. Entity Type
      • iii. Name
      • iv. Owned By ID 1-N
      • v. Owned By Percentage 1-N
    • d. Court Database
      • i. Court ID
      • ii. Jurisdictions 1-N
      • iii. Judges 1-N
      • iv. Notes 1-N
    • e. Fee Database
      • i. Fee Rule ID
      • ii. Description
      • iii. Fee Rule
      • iv. Notes 1-N
    • f. Penalties Database
      • i. Penalty Rule ID
      • ii. Description
      • iii. Penalty Rule
      • iv. Notes 1-N
    • g. Queue Database
      • i. Queue ID
      • ii. Description
      • iii. Priority Queuing Rules/Fees 1-N
      • iv. Dispute ID 1-N
        • 1. Queue Position
        • 2. Priority
      • v. Notes 1-N
    • h. Evidence Database
      • i. Evidence ID
      • ii. Description
      • iii. Type
      • iv. Source ID 1-N
      • v. Date
      • vi. Verification Code
      • vii. Evidence 1-N
      • viii. Notes 1-N
    • i. Mediator Database
      • i. Mediator ID
      • ii. Mediator Type
      • iii. Name
      • iv. Fields of Practice
      • v. Virtual Professional ID Codes 1-N
      • vi. Notes 1-N
      • vii. Disputes 1-N
      • viii. Qualifications 1-N
      • ix. Score or Rankings 1-N
        • 1. Case/Dispute Type Served
        • 2. Resolution/Outcome
        • 3. Skill
      • x. Notes 1-N
    • j. Mediator Panel Database
      • i. Panel ID
      • ii. Mediator IDs 1-N
      • iii. Mediation Case ID
      • iv. Dispute ID
      • v. Qualifications 1-N
      • vi. Score or Rankings 1-N
        • 1. Case/Dispute Type Served
        • 2. Resolution/Outcome
        • 3. Skill
      • vii. Notes 1-N
    • k. Mediation Database
      • i. Mediation Case ID
      • ii. Dispute ID 1-N
      • iii. Mediator ID 1-N
      • iv. Litigant IDs 1-N
      • v. Disposition/Outcome ID
      • vi. Witness testimony ID 1-n
      • vii. Score/Ranking
      • viii. Notes 1-N
    • l. Jury Database
      • i. Juror ID
      • ii. Player/Player Character ID
      • iii. Dispute ID
      • iv. Court ID
      • v. Mediation Case ID
      • vi. Qualifications 1-N
      • vii. Score or Rankings 1-N
        • 1. Case/Dispute Type Served
        • 2. Resolution/Outcome
        • 3. Skill Notes 1-N
    • m. Mediation Outcome Contract Database
      • i. Outcome ID
      • ii. Mediation ID
      • iii. Dispute ID
      • iv. Outcome Description
      • v. Rules 1-N
      • vi. Agreement Terms and Conditions 1-N
      • vii. Fees 1-N
      • viii. Fines 1-N
      • ix. Penalties 1-N
      • x. Confinement ID 1-N
      • xi. Score/Ranking
      • xii. Notes 1-N
    • n. Counsel/Attorney Database
      • i. Counsel/Attorney ID
      • ii. Description
      • iii. Qualifications 1-N
      • iv. Score or Rankings 1-N
        • 1. Case/Dispute Type Served
        • 2. Resolution/Outcome
        • 3. Skill
      • v. Mediation Cases 1-N
      • vi. Disputes 1-N
      • vii. Fees 1-N
      • viii. Notes 1-N
    • o. Dispute resolution/action Database
      • i. Disposition/Resolution ID
      • ii. Description
      • iii. Dispute ID
      • iv. Penalties ID 1-N
      • v. Fees ID 1-N
      • vi. Expected Actions/Restitution ID 1-N
      • vii. Confinement ID 1-N
      • viii. Notes 1-N
    • p. Confinement Database
      • i. Confinement ID
      • ii. Dispute ID
      • iii. Disposition ID
      • iv. Defendant ID
      • v. Confinement Period
      • vi. Confinement Location
      • vii. Notes 1-N
    • q. Virtual world/game play settings Database
      • i. Setting ID
      • ii. Description
      • iii. Use Rules 1-N
      • iv. Limitation Rules 1-N
      • v. Settings 1-N
        • 1. Date
        • 2. Setting
      • vi. Change Log
        • 1. Before Date
        • 2. Before Image
        • 3. Changed By ID
        • 4. After Date
        • 5. After Image
      • vii. Notes 1-N
    • r. Tax Database
      • i. Tax Rule ID
      • ii. Description
      • iii. Tax Rules 1-N
      • iv. Uses 1-N
      • v. Limitations 1-N
      • vi. Notes 1-N
    • s. Insurance Policy Database
      • i. Policy ID
      • ii. Policy Holder ID
      • iii. Policy Type
      • iv. Description
      • v. Covered Item ID 1-N
      • vi. Coverage Amount
      • vii. Coverage Rules 1-N
      • viii. Coverage Period
      • ix. Fees ID 1-N
      • x. Notes 1-N
    • t. Insurance Claims Database
      • i. Insurance Claim ID
      • ii. Description
      • iii. Claimant ID-1-N
      • iv. Dispute ID 1-N
      • v. Notes 1-N
    • u. Saved Game Play Database
      • i. Transaction ID
      • ii. Date
      • iii. Before Image
      • iv. After Image
      • v. Settings Before ID
      • vi. Settings After ID
      • vii. Player IDs 1-N
      • viii. Actions 1-N
      • ix. Notes 1-N
      • v. Saved Virtual World Activity Database
      • i. Transaction ID
      • ii. Date
      • iii. Before Image
      • iv. After Image
      • v. Settings Before ID
      • vi. Settings After ID
      • vii. Player IDs 1-N
      • viii. Actions 1-N
      • ix. Notes 1-N
    • w. Citizen Database
      • i. Citizen ID
      • ii. Player Character ID
      • iii. Country of Origin
      • iv. Citizen of Country 1-N
      • v. Passport ID 1-N
      • vi. Visa ID 1-N
      • vii. Permissions 1-N
      • viii. Restrictions 1-N
      • ix. Qualifications 1-N
      • x. Score or Rankings 1-N
        • 1. Case/Dispute Type Served
        • 2. Resolution/Outcome
        • 3. Skill
      • xi. Notes 1-N
    • x. Appeal Package Database
      • i. Appeal ID
      • ii. Appeal Type
      • iii. Dispute ID
      • iv. Appeal Data
    • y. Virtual Footage Database
      • i. Footage ID
      • ii. Start Date/Time
      • iii. End Date/Time
      • iv. Point of View (POV) 1-N
      • v. Footage Attachments 1-N
      • vi. Description
      • vii. Storage Location Rules 1-N
      • viii. Storage Limitation Rules 1-N
      • ix. Storage Resolution Rules 1-N
      • x. Storage File Type
      • xi. Affected Player IDs 1-N
      • xii. Affected Player Character IDs 1-N
      • xiii. System Settings ID 1-N
    • 1. Settings Change Log Information
      • xiv. Saved Virtual World Activity Database Transaction ID 1-N
      • xv. Saved Game Play Activity Database Transaction ID 1-N
      • xvi. Disputes ID 1-N
      • Notes 1-N
    • z. Footage Alteration Rules Database
      • i. Alteration Rule ID
      • ii. Permitted Player Characters ID 1-N
      • iii. Excluded Player Characters ID 1-N
      • iv. Description
      • v. Permitted Changes Rules 1-N
      • vi. Denied Changes Rules 1-N
      • vii. Storage Location Rules 1-N Storage Limitation Rules 1-N
      • viii. Storage Resolution Rules 1-N
      • ix. Storage File Type
    • aa. Witness Database
      • i. Witness ID
      • ii. Player/Player Character ID
      • iii. Dispute ID
      • iv. Testimony ID 1-N
      • v. Qualifications 1-N
      • vi. Score or Rankings 1-N
        • 1. Case/Dispute Type Served
        • 2. Resolution/Outcome
      • vii. Skill Notes 1-N
    • bb. Witness Testimony Database
      • i. Testimony ID
      • ii. Dispute ID
      • iii. Date
      • iv. Time
      • v. Virtual Environment ID
      • vi. Location ID
      • vii. Description
      • viii. Testimony
      • ix. Relevancy Score
      • x. Applicable Virtual Footage ID 1-N
      • xi. Notes 1-N
    • cc. Case Law Database
      • i. Case Law ID
      • ii. Description
      • iii. Rules 1-N
      • iv. Fees 1-N
      • v. Penalties 1-N
      • vi. Applies To ID 1-N
      • vii. Exclusions ID 1-N
      • viii. Prior Cases ID 1-N
      • ix. Related Cases ID 1-N
      • x. Notes 1-N
    • dd. Law Database
      • i. Law ID
      • ii. Description
      • iii. Rules 1-N
      • iv. Fee rules 1-N
      • v. Penalties rules 1-N
      • vi. Confinement Rules 1-N
      • vii. Applies To ID 1-N
      • viii. Exclusions ID 1-N
      • ix. Prior Law/Precedence ID 1-N
      • x. Notes 1-N
    • ee. Notes Database
      • i. Note Description Short
      • ii. Note Description Long
      • iii. Note Group ID
      • iv. Note Class ID
        • 1. Note Subclass ID
        • 2. Note and/or Note Attachments 1-N
          • a. Owner/Submitted By ID
          • b. Original Submission Date/Time
        • 3. Notes 1-N
      • v. Modifications 1-N
        • 1. Owner/Submitted By ID
        • 2. Modification Submission Date
        • 3. Short Description
        • 4. Long Description
          • a. Owner/Submitted By ID
          • b. Original Submission Date/Time
          • c. Hyperlinks 1-N
          • d. Change Image 1-N
          • i. Before Change
          • ii. After Change
          • 5. Notes 1-N
    • ff. Hyperlink Database
      • i. Hyperlink ID
      • ii. Hyperlink
      • iii. Description
      • iv. Owner ID
      • v. Advertiser ID
      • vi. Notes 1-N
    • gg. Alert Event Rules Database
      • i. Alert Event Rule ID
      • ii. Alert Event Description
      • iii. Alert Event Rules 1-N
        • 1. Event Condition
        • 2. Alert Recipient ID 1-N
          • a. Alert Method 1-N
        • 3. Alert Database ID 1-N
      • iv. Notes 1-N
    • hh. Alert Database
      • i. Alert Database ID
      • ii. Alert Contents, one or more of:
        • 1. Text
        • 2. Variable Data
        • 3. Executable
      • iii. Notes 1-N
    • ii. Alert Methods Database
      • i. Alert Method ID
      • ii. Method Type
      • iii. Delivery Method (cell phone, pager, e-mail, PDA, database, executable, etc.)
      • iv. Notes 1-N
    • jj. Alert Recipient Database
      • i. Alert Recipient ID (e.g., end user ID)
      • ii. Description
      • iii. Alert Method Preferences ID 1-N
      • iv. Notes 1-N
    • kk.
    • ll. Insurance Provider Database
      • i. Policy Holder ID
      • ii. Name
      • iii. Insurance Types Provided
      • iv. Billing Information
      • v. Billing Address
      • vi. Agents ID 1-N
    • mm. Insurance Agent Database
      • i. Agent ID
      • ii. Name
      • iii. Qualifications
      • iv. Licenses to provide insurance ID 1-N

It will be appreciated that the various software and hardware components described above will be configured to perform a variety of functions and methods. Listed below are some exemplary methods that might be performed by the systems as described herein:

    • a. Set up dispute automatically if contract is breached
      • i. Determine that a contract has been breached
      • ii. Create a new dispute record
      • iii. Determine appropriate parties
      • iv. Alert parties that contract has been breached and a new dispute record has been created
    • b. Determine if contract is breached and automatically mediate and generate
    • c. mediation outcome
      • i. Determine that contract has been breached
      • ii. Create new dispute record
      • iii. Place dispute in queue
      • iv. Receive mediation outcome for dispute
      • v. Determine appropriate parties
      • vi. Notify parties of mediation outcome determination
    • d. Determine that a contract is likely to be breached and alert parties
      • i. Track contract performance
      • ii. Determine that contract is in danger of missing performance criteria
      • iii. Determine appropriate parties
      • iv. Notify parties that contract is in danger of missing performance criteria
    • e. Pay not to be on Jury Duty
      • i. Receive Citizen Registration
      • ii. Determine if Citizen qualifies to pay to not be on jury duty
      • iii. Output offer to pay not to be on jury duty
      • iv. Receive acceptance of offer
      • v. Flag citizen record as “exempt from jury duty”
    • f. Pay/Receive Bribes
      • i. Receive a bribe offer including a dispute id, mediator id, and bribe amount and requested mediation outcome vote data
      • ii. Output offer to mediator
      • iii. Receive acceptance of offer
      • iv. Store acceptance of offer
      • v. Alert appropriate parties that bribe was accepted
      • vi. Receive a mediation outcome vote from mediator that accepted bribe
      • vii. Determine if vote matches requested vote
      • viii. If vote does not match requested vote, override vote with requested vote
      • ix. Store requested vote
    • g. Select Witnesses
      • i. Receive a request to register a witness
      • ii. Store witness id with dispute id
      • iii. Notify witness that they have been registered
    • h. Certify Witness Testimony
      • i. Receive testimony from witness
      • ii. Store testimony with dispute id
    • i. Create Mediation Outcome Insurance Policy
      • i. Receive a request to insured a mediation outcome
      • ii. Determine outcome value
      • iii. Determine likelihood of outcome
      • iv. Create insurance premium based on outcome value and likelihood of outcome
      • v. Output insurance premium offer
      • vi. Receive acceptance of offer
      • vii. Receive premium payment
      • viii. Create insurance policy
    • Pay claim on Mediation Outcome Insurance Policy
      • ix. Determine that a dispute received a mediation outcome
      • x. Determine if outcome was covered by insurance policy
      • xi. Retrieve policy value
      • xii. Pay policy value to insured party
    • 4. Or: Event Driven Model

1. Setup/Maintain Databases

2. Execute Security Application

3. Execute User Interface Application

4. Execute Primary Routine

Primary Routine/Application/Watchdog

1. Load Databases and Rules Databases

2. Determine if one or more sub-applications/Programs should be executed

3. Execute Player Activity/Tracking Program

4. Execute Video Footage Tracking Program

5. Receive indication that a dispute may or has occurred

6. Receive indication that an agreement/contract has been breached

7. Execute Find Attorney Program

8. Execute Dispute Tracking Program

9. Execute Cure Program

10. Receive indication a dispute has been filed/queued

11. Receive change queue position/priority request

12. Execute priority queuing program

13. Execute Dispute Resolution Program

14. Execute Appeals Program

15. Receive indication that fines or penalties are to be assessed

16. Execute Penalty assessment program

17. Execute Periodic Billing Program

18. Execute Revenue Distribution Program

19. Execute Virtual Title Program

20. Execute Enforcement Program

21. Execute Confinement Program

22. Receive indication case law has been created/revised

23. Execute Case Law Program

24. Execute Insurance Coverage

25. Execute Currency Conversion Program

26. Execute Scoring Program

27. Execute Alert Program

28. Execute Notes Program

29. Update Databases

30. Repeat Process as Necessary/Desired/Indicated

User Interface Application

1. Load database(s)

2. Display graphical user interface for each application/feature as requested/desired

3. Receive input from end users

4. Execute functions as requested/required and/or load additional applications/GUIs

5. Update databases

Security Application

1. Load Database(s)

2. Determine if requested action and/or end user is permitted

3. If not, notify application and/or end user

4. If yes, permit requested step and/or loading of application or other authorized action(s)

5. Update Database(s)

Player Activity Tracking Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Receive indication of player/game activity

3. Store before/after images

4. Store before/after databases/rules/settings

5. Determine if contract has been violated

6. Determine if dispute has occurred

7. Determine if dispute has been filed

8. Execute Alert Program

9. Execute Notes Program

10. Add/Change/Update Notes

11. Update Databases

Find Attorney Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Receive indication that player/player character needs/desires an attorney or other counsel

3. Search Attorney Database for possible matches, using case/dispute information, client and/or any other available information, including past cases of plaintiff and/or defendant, outcomes, costs/revenues generated, payment history, etc.

4. Provide list of possible matches to player or player character

5. Sort list according to sort/select/filter criteria of player or player character, if any

6. Receive primary, secondary and/or tertiary choices from player/player character

7. Notify attorneys

8. Receive indication of acceptance by attorney/client

9. Notify all parties

10. Create player-to-player contract for professional services

11. Execute Alert Program

12. Execute Notes Program

13. Update Databases

Video Footage Tracking Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Execute Player Activity Tracking Program

3. Capture and Store All Before/After Data, including, video, system settings, player actions, contracts, rules, outcomes, etc.

4. Execute Alert Program

5. Add/Change/Update Notes

6. Update Databases

Dispute Tracking Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Create Dispute ID and Gather Data

3. Determine Litigant IDs

4. Determine Counsel/Attorney IDs (if any)

5. Submit ID to Dispute Tracking Queue

6. Execute Alert Program

7. Add/Change/Update Notes

8. Update Databases

Cure Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Receive indication of proposed cure of dispute/case

3. Notify litigants of cure terms and conditions

4. Receive acceptance notice from all litigants

5. Execute Periodic Billing Program

6. Execute Revenue Distribution Program

7. Execute Enforcement Program

8. Execute Alert Program

9. Execute Notes Program

10. Add/Change/Update Notes

11. Update Databases

Priority Queuing Program

Determine ratio of priority queued vs. standard disputes/cases for a court or judge or mediator to review

1. Retrieve pending disputes/cases in a class or subclass that have not yet been assigned to a judge/mediation, including information about whether each dispute/case is priority or standard queued

2. Determine a ratio of priority and standard filings for a case/dispute based on total cases/disputes filed, and the class and subclass of a each submitted case dispute.

3. Store ratio

Determine a judge/mediator bonus tier

1. Receive and Generate performance criteria for a judge/mediator

2. Determine a bonus tier based on performance criteria

3. Store bonus tier with judge/mediator record.

Assign a one or more or a block of cases/disputes to a judge/mediator based on ratio

1. Receive a request to review/hear one or more or a block of cases disputes from a litigant and/or judge/mediator

2. Retrieve the priority vs. standard ratio for the particular judge/mediator based on the class and subclass of case/dispute that such judge/mediator reviews/hears.

3. Assign one or more or a block of cases/disputes to the examiner in the ratio of priority vs. standard

4. Determine a fee or bonus to pay the judge/mediator when the block of cases/disputes has been heard/resolved, based on the priority queue fees of the priority cases/disputes in the assigned block and the bonus tier assigned to that judge/mediator.

5. Output assigned block to judge/mediator, including bonus amount

Audit a case/dispute examination to approve bonus

1. Receive an indication that a block of cases/disputes has been examined by an initial judge/mediator/examiner

2. Determine at least one of the cases/disputes to reexamine

3. Output reexamination request to a second judge/mediator

4. Receive an indication that a reexamination is complete

5. If reexamination result confirms initial examination, confirm bonus for initial judge/mediator for examination of block of cases/disputes

6. If reexamination result conflicts with initial examination result, deny bonus for initial judge/examiner for examination of block of cases/disputes

Establish Initial Position of Case/Dispute in Queue

1. Receive Case/Dispute Application including type, class, sub-class

2. Determine Judge/Mediator for Case/Dispute

3. Determine Jury for Case/Dispute (if any)

4. Retrieve Existing Case/Dispute Queue and Values for positions in the Queue of the Judge/Mediator

5. Determine Estimated Time to Complete Dispute Resolution

6. Output Case/Dispute Queue of Judge/Mediator with corresponding values

7. Receive or determine value of case/dispute application

8. Place case/dispute in queue based on value assigned

9. Update databases

10. Publish value and queue position

Notify End User if Position in Queue is Lost

1. Receive case/dispute application and value

2. Determine place in queue based on value

3. Determine previous case/dispute applications in the queue whose queue values have changed as a result of the case/dispute application being submitted

4. Retrieve end users associated with previous case/dispute applications

5. Notify end users of previous case/dispute applications that the queue position of their case/dispute applications may or has changed.

6. Publish results

7. Update databases and return to controlling application.

Charge for change in queue position

1. Receive request to improve position within the queue from end user

2. Determine price based upon queue variables including, any one or more of: number in queue, price of any previously moved within the queue, submitted or required or determined price based upon market forces, policy, procedure, precedence, law, case law or otherwise.

3. Notify end-user of price

4. Receive acceptance of price and payment from end user

5. Execute “Protect existing cases subroutine”

6. Determine if one or more applications are eligible or ineligible to be moved based upon results from sub-routine

7. If yes, execute “Subsidy sub-routine”

8. As appropriate, update affect applications' position within the queue and, if appropriate, process payment from all affected end user(s)

9. Execute Alerts Program

10. Execute Notes Program

11. Update databases

12. Publish results

Protect existing cases subroutine

1. Receive indication that a case/dispute may be affected by a pending change in queue request)

2. Execute Notify End User if Position in Queue is or may be Lost

3. Receive notice from any existing litigant(s) that desire to exercise their first right of refusal and/or determine if any existing case/disputes may be affected for a second (or more times)

4. Update costs (if any) to change or maintain position within the queue (for new and existing cases/disputes)

5. Receive payment from litigant exercising first rights

6. Update databases and return to controlling application.

Subsidy Subroutine

1. Notify litigant(s) that one or more pre-existing cases/disputes may or have exercised their first right and/or may not be moved again.

2. Determine price for litigant to pay for processing or accelerating such case/dispute

3. Notify litigant of price required to improve their position in the queue and the price to subsidize and/or accelerate such other cases/disputes heard or to be heard

4. Receive rejection or acceptance and payment from litigant

5. Update databases and return to controlling application

Judge/Mediator Selection Subroutine

1. Determine Class and Subclass of case/dispute and claims

2. Determine workload of all available and qualified judges and/or mediators or assigned to litigant's class or subclass

3. Determine estimated time to complete existing workload for all affected judges/mediators

4. Notify potential judge(s)/mediator(s) to determine if one or more are willing to accept this case/dispute in exchange for an incentive

5. Select best judge/mediator to assign application based upon any one or more of the judge's/mediator's workload, skill level, experience with similar cases/disputes and/or claims, willingness to accept additional work, price for overtime work, litigant's preferences, etc.

6. Update databases and return to controlling application

Resource Allocation Subroutine

1. Receive additional paid in fees to accelerate, subsidize or maintain a position in a queue.

2. Based upon historical and predicted payments, estimate future revenue streams allocable to additional resources

3. Determine which queues have the most time consuming backlogs

4. Allocate additional paid in fees based upon ratio of time required to available money or such other calculation method as desired by the judge/mediator/court or examination office and/or by law or otherwise

5. Notify appropriate personnel of availability and during of funds for use in hiring additional judges/mediators/jury members or other resources or for the purchase of hardware, software or programming or other consulting services.

6. Execute Alert Program

7. Execute Notes Program

8. Add/Change/Update Notes

9. Update Databases

Dispute Resolution Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Determine if Jury or Mediation Panel Is Required

3. Execute Jury/Mediation Selection Program

4. Determine if Judge/Mediator Is Required

5. Execute Judge/Mediation Selection Program

6. Notify All Participants

7. Determine Date for Dispute Proceedings

8. Notify All Participants

9. Hold Hearings

    • i. Execute Objections Program
    • ii. Permit Jury/Mediation Panel Instructions
    • iii. Permit Opening Statements
    • iv. Receive Evidence Submissions
    • v. Receive Witness Testimony
    • vi. Execute Perjury Program
    • vii. Permit Examination/Cross Examination
    • viii. Retrieve Virtual Video Footage
    • ix. Permit Closing Statements
    • x. Permit Jury/Mediation Panel Instructions

10. Determine Fines, Penalties, Confinement or other Punishment(s)

11. If Fines Assessed, Execute Periodic Billing Program

12. Execute Enforcement Program

13. Execute Alert Program

14. Execute Notes Program

15. Add/Change/Update Notes

16. Update Databases

Objections Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Receive Objection

3. Judge/Mediator/Rules Interpret Objection

4. Determine Outcome of Objection (sustain/overruled)

5. If sustained, strike testimony and/or evidence as applicable

6. Else, no action

7. Execute Alert Program

8. Execute Notes Program

9. Add/Change/Update Notes

10. Update Databases

Jury/Mediation Selection Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Receive indication of need of jury or mediation panel

3. Determine case/dispute qualifications requirements

4. Create jury/mediation panel/pool based upon qualification requirements, estimated case/dispute length, duties to serve, citizen database information, prior citizen or player character service, scores, etc.

5. Notify pool of service requirement

6. Conduct Voir Dire

7. Permit counsel/attorney selection or automate selection of final jury/mediators and/or alternates

8. Notify final pool

9. Assign Citizen/Player IDs to Case/Dispute

10. Execute Alert Program

11. Execute Notes Program

12. Add/Change/Update Notes

13. Update Databases

Judge/Mediation Selection Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Receive indication of need of judge, mediator or mediation panel

3. Determine case/dispute qualifications requirements

4. Create jury/mediation panel/pool based upon qualification requirements, estimated case/dispute length, duties to serve, judge/mediator database information, prior service, scores, etc.

5. Notify pool of service requirement/and/or possible fees for service

6. Receive acceptance notice from one or more Judges/mediators/pool members

7. Determine which judge/mediator would best suit current case/dispute based upon any available information, including, applicable experience, willingness to serve, past service, scores, litigant preferences (if permitted), etc.

8. Notify selected judge(s), mediator(s), panel members

9. Execute Alert Program

10. Execute Notes Program

11. Add/Change/Update Notes

12. Update Databases

Appeals Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Receive Appeals Request and Basis for Appeal

3. Determine if appeal has sufficient merit to be heard

4. If yes, Execute Appellate Hearing Program

5. Execute Alert Program

6. Execute Notes Program

7. Add/Change/Update Notes

8. Update Databases

Appellate Hearing Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Determine if Jury or Mediation Panel Is Required

3. Execute Jury/Mediation Selection Program

4. Determine if Judge/Mediator Is Required

5. Execute Judge/Mediation Selection Program

6. Notify All Participants

7. Determine Date for Appellate Proceedings

8. Notify All Participants

9. Hold Appeals Hearings

    • a. Execute Objections Program
    • b. Permit Jury/Mediation Panel Instructions
    • c. Permit Opening Statements
    • d. Receive Evidence Submissions
    • e. Receive Witness Testimony
    • f. Execute Perjury Program
    • g. Permit Examination/Cross Examination
    • h. Retrieve Virtual Video Footage
    • i. Permit Closing Statements
    • j. Permit Jury/Mediation Panel Instructions

10. Determine Fines, Penalties, Confinement or other Punishment(s)

11. If Fines Assessed, Execute Periodic Billing Program

12. Execute Enforcement Program

13. Execute Alert Program

14. Execute Notes Program

15. Add/Change/Update Notes

16. Update Databases

Perjury Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Receive Testimony or Evidence

3. Retrieve Stored Video Footage and/or Game Play Records

4. Where/if possible, Compare Testimony or Evidence to Historical Record

5. Determine if Testimony/Evidence is Factually Accurate or has been modified outside of acceptable or established rules

6. If not, determine factual score

7. If score is below defined threshold, flag testimony/evidence as being false, forged, or modified beyond acceptable limits

8. Notify litigants/court/mediation

9. Determine responsible party

10. File Perjury Charges by filing a new dispute/case against any one or more witnesses or law enforcement or other provider of false testimony and/or evidence, store results of perjury program's assessment to serve as evidence in perjury case

11. Else, return favorable score and flag testimony/evidence as true “as tested”

12. Execute Alert Program

13. Execute Notes Program

14. Add/Change/Update Notes

15. Update Databases

Penalty Assessment Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Receive indication of dispute/case outcome/resolution

3. Retrieve rules relating to dispute/case type/and/or instructions/decision from judge, jury or mediator or mediation panel

4. Verify validity of penalties imposed vs. rules/precedence (if applicable)

5. Notify affected parties

6. If Applicable:

    • a. Execute Insurance Coverage Program
    • b. Execute Periodic Billing Program
    • c. Execute Enforcement Program
    • d. Execute Confinement Program

7. Execute Alert Program

8. Execute Notes Program

9. Add/Change/Update Notes

10. Update Databases

Confinement Program

1. Load Databases and rules databases

2. Determine if defendant should be confined due to outcome or resolution of case/dispute and/or failure to pay

3. Determine duration of confinement

4. Determine location of confinement

5. Confine defendant or defendant's player character(s) to designated area for designated period and/or prevent player or player character(s) from accessing the virtual environment for proscribed period as indicated in confinement rules

6. Execute Alert Program

7. Execute Notes Program

8. Add/Change/Update Notes

9. Update Databases

Periodic Billing Program

1. Determine if fine or other payment is due

2. If due, determine amount due

3. Send notice (if applicable)

4. Collect amount due (if applicable)

5. Execute Currency Conversion Program (if required)

6. If amount not collected, determine total due including penalties and fees (if any) and charge credit card on file

7. If fine/penalty not paid or by credit card, Execute Insurance Coverage and/or Enforcement Program

8. Execute Alert Program

9. Execute Notes Program

10. Add/Change/Update Notes

11. Update Databases

Revenue Distribution Program

1. Determine if fee/penalty proceeds and/or payments should be shared/distributed and to whom or when, e.g., to plaintiff and/or courts

2. Notify Affected Parties (if applicable)

3. Execute Currency Conversion Program (only if and as required)

4. Distribute Collected Proceeds and/or payments as and when required

5. Execute Alert Program

6. Execute Notes Program

7. Add/Change/Update Notes

8. Update Databases

Virtual Title Program

1. Determine if virtual title should be created, changed or deleted

2. Create, change or delete Virtual Title as required (e.g., add or remove lien)

3. Notify all affected Parties (if applicable)

4. Execute Alert Program

5. Execute Notes Program

6. Add/Change/Update Notes

7. Update Databases

Case Law Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Determine if case/dispute outcome affects case law

3. If yes, determine effects

4. Modify case law database to reflect current case/dispute findings

5. Execute Alert Program

6. Execute Notes Program

7. Add/Change/Update Notes

8. Update Databases

Enforcement Program

1. Load Databases/Rules

2. Determine if fee/penalty not paid

3. Determine actions for failure to pay

4. If not, notify defendant of possible further actions

5. Receive notice to pay from defendant

6. If accepted, execute periodic billing program

7. Else, impose new fine/penalty including repossessing assets by running virtual title program and taking possession of one or more assets of equal or greater value than the outstanding amount due plus additional fines, late payment or other penalties as defined in the penalties rules database

8. Or, if such payments and/or assets are insufficient, Execute Confinement Program

9. Execute Alert Program

10. Execute Notes Program

11. Add/Change/Update Notes

12. Update Databases

Insurance Coverage Program

1. Load Databases and Rules Databases

2. Receive total amount of fines and penalties

3. Receive case/dispute information and resolution

4. Determine if case/dispute is covered by one or more insurance policies and the extent of coverage

5. If coverage applies, notify insurance provider

6. Collect fees from insurance provider

7. If balance remains, notify defendant and collect remaining balance.

8. Execute Alert Program

9. Execute Notes Program

10. Add/Change/Update Notes

11. Update Databases

Currency Conversion Program

1. Load Databases and Rules Databases

2. Determine if currency conversion is required

3. Calculate currency conversion rates

4. Determine currency conversion fees, duties or tariffs

5. Collect fees, duties or tariffs for currency conversion (if applicable)

6. Execute Revenue Distribution Program (if and as required)

7. Execute Alert Program

8. Execute Notes Program

9. Add/Change/Update Notes

10. Update Databases

Scoring Program

1. Load Databases and Rules Databases

2. Receive indication that score should be determined or updated

3. Using scoring rules, determine new/revised score

4. Execute Alert Program

5. Execute Notes Program

6. Add/Change/Update Notes

7. Update Databases

Alerts Program

1. Load Database(s)

2. Determine if Alert Event has occurred

3. Determine Alert Contents based upon alert rules

4. Determine Alert Recipients and Contents and Delivery Method(s)

5. Send Alert(s)

6. Execute Notes Program

7. Add/Change/Update Notes

8. Update Databases

Notes Programs

1. Load Databases and Rules Databases

2. Execute as Desired/Necessary

a. Note Attachment Program

b. Note Modification Program

c. Notes Access/Use Program

d. Note Attachment Program

Note Attachment Program

1. Load Database(s)

2. Provide Attachment Creation GUI

3. Receive New Note from End User

4. Create Note

5. Create Note Hyperlink

6. Associate Note with Case, Dispute, Law, Case Law, Document, Word and/or Hyperlink (as applicable), by, e.g., inserting or otherwise associating Note Hyperlink with Document, Word and/or Hyperlink

7. Update Database(s)

Note Modification Program

1. Load Database(s)

2. Provide Modification GUI

3. Receive Note Change/Delete Request from End User

4. Create Note Modification

5. If required, Create Revised Note Hyperlink

6. Associate Revised Note with Case, Dispute, Law, Case Law, Document, Word and/or Hyperlink, by inserting or otherwise associating Note Hyperlink with Document, Word and/or Hyperlink

7. Else, if required, delete Note Hyperlink

8. Update Database(s)

Note Access/Use Program

1. Load Database(s)

2. Provide Access/Use GUI

3. Receive note access/use/activation request from end user (or application)

4. Apply Score/Relevancy Filter (if applicable/requested/desired)

5. Determine action steps, e.g., execute program or hyperlink:

a. If applicable, perform one or more of the following:

i. Display appropriate note contents

ii. Display like notes, cases, disputes, laws, case laws, documents or hyperlinks to like documents, and/or words, hyperlinks, etc.

iii. Execute program or hyperlink

iv. Display case, dispute, law, case law, document, note and/or advertisement

v. Open new window to display note contents or advertisement and/or GUI's

vi. Execute Note Attachment Program

6. Update Database(s)

Note Attachment Program

1. Receive indication of new or modified or deleted note and/or case, dispute, law, case law, advertisement, and/or word, and/or document

2. Load Database(s)

3. If desired, capture before/after change images

4. Create or update or remove hyperlink(s) as required

5. Update database(s)

6. Execute Alert Program

7. Add/Change/Update Notes

8. Update Databases

Of course it will be appreciated that the systems methods described herein are provided for the purposes of example only and that none of the above systems methods should be interpreted as necessarily requiring any of the disclosed components or steps nor should they be interpreted as necessarily excluding any additional components or steps.

The invention is described with reference to several embodiments. However, the invention is not limited to the embodiments disclosed, and those of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the invention is readily applicable to many other diverse embodiments and applications. Accordingly, the subject matter of the present disclosure includes all novel and nonobvious combinations and subcombinations of the various systems, methods and configurations, and other features, functions, and/or properties disclosed herein.

The term “product” means any machine, manufacture and/or composition of matter, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The term “process” means any process, algorithm, method or the like, unless expressly specified otherwise.

Each process (whether called a method, algorithm or otherwise) inherently includes one or more steps, and therefore all references to a “step” or “steps” of a process have an inherent antecedent basis in the mere recitation of the term ‘process’ or a like term. Accordingly, any reference in a claim to a ‘step’ or ‘steps’ of a process has sufficient antecedent basis.

The terms “an embodiment”, “embodiment”, “embodiments”, “the embodiment”, “the embodiments”, “one or more embodiments”, “some embodiments”, “certain embodiments”, “one embodiment”, “another embodiment” and the like mean “one or more (but not all) embodiments of the disclosed invention(s)”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The term “variation” of an invention means an embodiment of the invention, unless expressly specified otherwise.

A reference to “another embodiment” in describing an embodiment does not imply that the referenced embodiment is mutually exclusive with another embodiment (e.g., an embodiment described before the referenced embodiment), unless expressly specified otherwise.

The terms “including”, “comprising” and variations thereof mean “including but not limited to”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The term “consisting of” and variations thereof mean “including and limited to”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The terms “a”, “an” and “the” mean “one or more”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The term “plurality” means “two or more”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The term “herein” means “in this patent application, including anything which may be incorporated by reference”, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The phrase “at least one of”, when such phrase modifies a plurality of things (such as an enumerated list of things) means any combination of one or more of those things, unless expressly specified otherwise. For example, the phrase “at least one of a widget, a car and a wheel” means either (i) a widget, (ii) a car, (iii) a wheel, (iv) a widget and a car, (v) a widget and a wheel, (vi) a car and a wheel, or (vii) a widget, a car and a wheel.

Numerical terms such as “one”, “two”, etc. when used as cardinal numbers to indicate quantity of something (e.g., one widget, two widgets), mean the quantity indicated by that numerical term, but do not mean at least the quantity indicated by that numerical term. For example, the phrase “one widget” does not mean “at least one widget”, and therefore the phrase “one widget” does not cover, e.g., two widgets.

The phrase “based on” does not mean “based only on”, unless expressly specified otherwise. In other words, the phrase “based on” describes both “based only on” and “based at least on”.

The term “represent” and like terms are not exclusive, unless expressly specified otherwise. For example, the term “represents” do not mean “represents only”, unless expressly specified otherwise. In other words, the phrase “the data represents a credit card number” describes both “the data represents only a credit card number” and “the data represents a credit card number and the data also represents something else”.

The term “whereby” is used herein only to precede a clause or other set of words that express only the intended result, objective or consequence of something that is previously and explicitly recited. Thus, when the term “whereby” is used in a claim, the clause or other words that the term “whereby” modifies do not establish specific further limitations of the claim or otherwise restricts the meaning or scope of the claim.

The term “e.g.” and like terms means “for example”, and thus does not limit the term or phrase it explains. For example, in the sentence “the computer sends data (e.g., instructions, a data structure) over the Internet”, the term “e.g.” explains that “instructions” are an example of “data” that the computer may send over the Internet, and also explains that “a data structure” is an example of “data” that the computer may send over the Internet. However, both “instructions” and “a data structure” are merely examples of “data”, and other things besides “instructions” and “a data structure” can be “data”.

The term “determining” and grammatical variants thereof (e.g., to determine a price, determining a value, determine an object which meets a certain criterion) is used in an extremely broad sense. The term “determining” encompasses a wide variety of actions and therefore “determining” can include calculating, computing, processing, deriving, investigating, looking up (e.g., looking up in a table, a database or another data structure), ascertaining and the like. Also, “determining” can include receiving (e.g., receiving information), accessing (e.g., accessing data in a memory) and the like. Also, “determining” can include resolving, selecting, choosing, establishing, and the like.

The term “determining” does not imply certainty or absolute precision, and therefore “determining” can include estimating, predicting, guessing and the like.

The term “determining” does not imply that mathematical processing must be performed, and does not imply that numerical methods must be used, and does not imply that an algorithm or process is used.

The term “determining” does not imply that any particular device must be used. For example, a computer need not necessarily perform the determining.

It will be readily apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that the various processes described herein may be implemented by, e.g., appropriately programmed general purpose computers and computing devices. Typically a processor (e.g., one or more microprocessors, one or more microcontrollers, one or more digital signal processors) will receive instructions (e.g., from a memory or like device), and execute those instructions, thereby performing one or more processes defined by those instructions.

A “processor” means one or more microprocessors, central processing units (CPUs), computing devices, microcontrollers, digital signal processors, or like devices or any combination thereof.

Where a limitation of a first claim would cover one of a feature as well as more than one of a feature (e.g., a limitation such as “at least one widget” covers one widget as well as more than one widget), and where in a second claim that depends on the first claim, the second claim uses a definite article “the” to refer to the limitation (e.g., “the widget”), this does not imply that the first claim covers only one of the feature, and this does not imply that the second claim covers only one of the feature (e.g., “the widget” can cover both one widget and more than one widget).

Each claim in a set of claims has a different scope. Therefore, for example, where a limitation is explicitly recited in a dependent claim, but not explicitly recited in any claim from which the dependent claim depends (directly or indirectly), that limitation is not to be read into any claim from which the dependent claim depends.

When an ordinal number (such as “first”, “second”, “third” and so on) is used as an adjective before a term, that ordinal number is used (unless expressly specified otherwise) merely to indicate a particular feature, such as to distinguish that particular feature from another feature that is described by the same term or by a similar term. For example, a “first widget” may be so named merely to distinguish it from, e.g., a “second widget”. Thus, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” does not indicate any other relationship between the two widgets, and likewise does not indicate any other characteristics of either or both widgets. For example, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” (1) does not indicate that either widget comes before or after any other in order or location; (2) does not indicate that either widget occurs or acts before or after any other in time; and (3) does not indicate that either widget ranks above or below any other, as in importance or quality. In addition, the mere usage of ordinal numbers does not define a numerical limit to the features identified with the ordinal numbers. For example, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” does not indicate that there must be no more than two widgets.

When a single device or article is described herein, more than one device/article (whether or not they cooperate) may alternatively be used in place of the single device/article that is described. Accordingly, the functionality that is described as being possessed by a device may alternatively be possessed by more than one device/article (whether or not they cooperate).

Similarly, where more than one device or article is described herein (whether or not they cooperate), a single device/article may alternatively be used in place of the more than one device or article that is described. For example, a plurality of computer-based devices may be substituted with a single computer-based device. Accordingly, the various functionality that is described as being possessed by more than one device or article may alternatively be possessed by a single device/article.

The functionality and/or the features of a single device that is described may be alternatively embodied by one or more other devices which are described but are not explicitly described as having such functionality/features. Thus, other embodiments need not include the described device itself, but rather can include the one or more other devices which would, in those other embodiments, have such functionality/features.

Numerous embodiments are described in this patent application, and are presented for illustrative purposes only. The described embodiments are not, and are not intended to be, limiting in any sense. The presently disclosed invention(s) are widely applicable to numerous embodiments, as is readily apparent from the disclosure. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the disclosed invention(s) may be practiced with various modifications and alterations, such as structural, logical, software, and electrical modifications. Although particular features of the disclosed invention(s) may be described with reference to one or more particular embodiments and/or drawings, it should be understood that such features are not limited to usage in the one or more particular embodiments or drawings with reference to which they are described, unless expressly specified otherwise.

The present disclosure is neither a literal description of all embodiments of the invention nor a listing of features of the invention which must be present in all embodiments.

Neither the Title (set forth at the beginning of the first page of this patent application) nor the Abstract (set forth at the end of this patent application) is to be taken as limiting in any way as the scope of the disclosed invention(s). An Abstract has been included in this application merely because an Abstract of not more than 150 words is required under 37 C.F.R. § 1.72(b).

The title of this patent application and headings of sections provided in this patent application are for convenience only, and are not to be taken as limiting the disclosure in any way.

Devices that are described as in communication with each other need not be in continuous communication with each other, unless expressly specified otherwise. On the contrary, such devices need only transmit to each other as necessary or desirable, and may actually refrain from exchanging data most of the time. For example, a machine in communication with another machine via the Internet may not transmit data to the other machine for long period of time (e.g. weeks at a time). In addition, devices that are in communication with each other may communicate directly or indirectly through one or more intermediaries.

A description of an embodiment with several components or features does not imply that all or even any of such components/features are required. On the contrary, a variety of optional components are described to illustrate the wide variety of possible embodiments of the present invention(s). Unless otherwise specified explicitly, no component/feature is essential or required.

Although process steps, algorithms or the like may be described in a sequential order, such processes may be configured to work in different orders. In other words, any sequence or order of steps that may be explicitly described does not necessarily indicate a requirement that the steps be performed in that order. On the contrary, the steps of processes described herein may be performed in any order practical. Further, some steps may be performed simultaneously despite being described or implied as occurring non-simultaneously (e.g., because one step is described after the other step). Moreover, the illustration of a process by its depiction in a drawing does not imply that the illustrated process is exclusive of other variations and modifications thereto, does not imply that the illustrated process or any of its steps are necessary to the invention, and does not imply that the illustrated process is preferred.

Although a process may be described as including a plurality of steps, that does not imply that all or any of the steps are essential or required. Various other embodiments within the scope of the described invention(s) include other processes that omit some or all of the described steps. Unless otherwise specified explicitly, no step is essential or required.

Although a product may be described as including a plurality of components, aspects, qualities, characteristics and/or features, that does not indicate that all of the plurality are essential or required. Various other embodiments within the scope of the described invention(s) include other products that omit some or all of the described plurality.

Unless expressly specified otherwise, an enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply that any or all of the items are mutually exclusive. Therefore it is possible, but not necessarily true, that something can be considered to be, or fit the definition of, two or more of the items in an enumerated list. Also, an item in the enumerated list can be a subset (a specific type of) of another item in the enumerated list. For example, the enumerated list “a computer, a laptop, a PDA” does not imply that any or all of the three items of that list are mutually exclusive—e.g., an item can be both a laptop and a computer, and a “laptop” can be a subset of (a specific type of) a “computer”.

Likewise, unless expressly specified otherwise, an enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply that any or all of the items are collectively exhaustive or otherwise comprehensive of any category. For example, the enumerated list “a computer, a laptop, a PDA” does not imply that any or all of the three items of that list are comprehensive of any category.

Further, an enumerated listing of items does not imply that the items are ordered in any manner according to the order in which they are enumerated.

In a claim, a limitation of the claim which includes the phrase “means for” or the phrase “step for” means that 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, applies to that limitation.

In a claim, a limitation of the claim which does not include the phrase “means for” or the phrase “step for” means that 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6 does not apply to that limitation, regardless of whether that limitation recites a function without recitation of structure, material or acts for performing that function. For example, in a claim, the mere use of the phrase “step of” or the phrase “steps of” in referring to one or more steps of the claim or of another claim does not mean that 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, applies to that step(s).

With respect to a means or a step for performing a specified function in accordance with 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, the corresponding structure, material or acts described in the specification, and equivalents thereof, may perform additional functions as well as the specified function.

Computers, processors, computing devices and like products are structures that can perform a wide variety of functions. Such products can be operable to perform a specified function by executing one or more programs, such as a program stored in a memory device of that product or in a memory device which that product accesses. Unless expressly specified otherwise, such a program need not be based on any particular algorithm, such as any particular algorithm that might be disclosed in this patent application. It is well known to one of ordinary skill in the art that a specified function may be implemented via different algorithms, and any of a number of different algorithms would be a mere design choice for carrying out the specified function.

Therefore, with respect to a means or a step for performing a specified function in accordance with 35 U.S.C. § 112, paragraph 6, structure corresponding to a specified function includes any product programmed to perform the specified function. Such structure includes programmed products which perform the function, regardless of whether such product is programmed with (i) a disclosed algorithm for performing the function, (ii) an algorithm that is similar to a disclosed algorithm, or (iii) a different algorithm for performing the function.

Thus a description of a process is likewise a description of an apparatus for performing the process. The apparatus can include, e.g., a processor and those input devices and output devices that are appropriate to perform the method.

Further, programs that implement such methods (as well as other types of data) may be stored and transmitted using a variety of media (e.g., computer readable media) in a number of manners. In some embodiments, hard-wired circuitry or custom hardware may be used in place of, or in combination with, some or all of the software instructions that can implement the processes of various embodiments. Thus, various combinations of hardware and software may be used instead of software only.

The term “computer-readable medium” refers to any medium that participates in providing data (e.g., instructions, data structures) which may be read by a computer, a processor or a like device. Such a medium may take many forms, including but not limited to, non-volatile media, volatile media, and transmission media. Non-volatile media include, for example, optical or magnetic disks and other persistent memory. Volatile media include dynamic random access memory (DRAM), which typically constitutes the main memory. Transmission media include coaxial cables, copper wire and fiber optics, including the wires that comprise a system bus coupled to the processor. Transmission media may include or convey acoustic waves, light waves and electromagnetic emissions, such as those generated during radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) data communications. Common forms of computer-readable media include, for example, a floppy disk, a flexible disk, hard disk, magnetic tape, any other magnetic medium, a CD-ROM, DVD, any other optical medium, punch cards, paper tape, any other physical medium with patterns of holes, a RAM, a PROM, an EPROM, a FLASH-EEPROM, any other memory chip or cartridge, a carrier wave as described hereinafter, or any other medium from which a computer can read.

Various forms of computer readable media may be involved in carrying data (e.g. sequences of instructions) to a processor. For example, data may be (i) delivered from RAM to a processor; (ii) carried over a wireless transmission medium; (iii) formatted and/or transmitted according to numerous formats, standards or protocols, such as Ethernet (or IEEE 802.3), SAP, ATP, Bluetooth□, and TCP/IP, TDMA, CDMA, and 3G; and/or (iv) encrypted to ensure privacy or prevent fraud in any of a variety of ways well known in the art.

Thus a description of a process is likewise a description of a computer-readable medium storing a program for performing the process. The computer-readable medium can store (in any appropriate format) those program elements which are appropriate to perform the method.

Just as the description of various steps in a process does not indicate that all the described steps are required, embodiments of an apparatus include a computer/computing device operable to perform some (but not necessarily all) of the described process.

Likewise, just as the description of various steps in a process does not indicate that all the described steps are required, embodiments of a computer-readable medium storing a program or data structure include a computer-readable medium storing a program that, when executed, can cause a processor to perform some (but not necessarily all) of the described process.

Where databases are described, it will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that (i) alternative database structures to those described may be readily employed, and (ii) other memory structures besides databases may be readily employed. Any illustrations or descriptions of any sample databases presented herein are illustrative arrangements for stored representations of information. Any number of other arrangements may be employed besides those suggested by, e.g., tables illustrated in drawings or elsewhere. Similarly, any illustrated entries of the databases represent exemplary information only; one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the number and content of the entries can be different from those described herein. Further, despite any depiction of the databases as tables, other formats (including relational databases, object-based models and/or distributed databases) are well known and could be used to store and manipulate the data types described herein. Likewise, object methods or behaviors of a database can be used to implement various processes, such as the described herein. In addition, the databases may, in a known manner, be stored locally or remotely from any device(s) which access data in the database.

Various embodiments can be configured to work in a network environment including a computer that is in communication (e.g., via a communications network) with one or more devices. The computer may communicate with the devices directly or indirectly, via any wired or wireless medium (e.g. the Internet, LAN, WAN or Ethernet, Token Ring, a telephone line, a cable line, a radio channel, an optical communications line, commercial on-line service providers, bulletin board systems, a satellite communications link, a combination of any of the above). Each of the devices may themselves comprise computers or other computing devices, such as those based on the Intel® Pentium® or Centrino™ processor, that are adapted to communicate with the computer. Any number and type of devices may be in communication with the computer.

In an embodiment, a server computer or centralized authority may not be necessary or desirable. For example, the present invention may, in an embodiment, be practiced on one or more devices without a central authority. In such an embodiment, any functions described herein as performed by the server computer or data described as stored on the server computer may instead be performed by or stored on one or more such devices.

The present disclosure provides, to one of ordinary skill in the art, an enabling description of several embodiments and/or inventions. Some of these embodiments and/or inventions may not be claimed in this patent application, but may nevertheless be claimed in one or more continuing applications that claim the benefit of priority of this patent application. Applicants intend to file additional applications to pursue patents for subject matter that has been disclosed and enabled but not claimed in this patent application.