No fantasy: Game maker wants $825,000 from Mt. Lebanon man

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The creators of an online fantasy world went to federal court today to demand $825,000, plus fees, from a Mt. Lebanon man who has eked out a living selling game-playing aids.

Philip James Holland, 23, was late for court, dressed in sweats, and legally outgunned today by Boston attorneys sent by New York-based Evony LLC and Regan Mercantile LLC. Those two firms created Evony, an online empire-building game that's free to play but that makes revenue selling short-cuts toward developing towns and armies.

Mr. Holland, in turn, created Xandium Studios, which, at the very least, sells a map of the vast online world that an estimated 2 million Evony players have developed. Evony has accused him of also offering programs called "bots" that automatically play the game, and a copycat alternative to their world.

"The entire Xandium Web site is devoted to infringing on Evony's copyrights and trademarks," said Andrew T. O'Connor, a Boston attorney, at a default hearing before U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry.

"What I offer players of this game is no more than they could do on their own, given time," Mr. Holland responded.

Judge McVerry told Mr. Holland that because he had failed to get an attorney, or file an answer, in the two months since Evony sued him, the company's accusations would be presumed true.

Mr. Holland said he couldn't find a lawyer that he could afford. Later he said he earns just hundreds of dollars a month selling a map built by a program he created to explore Evony's world. "I can barely survive off of it," he said, and his efforts to reach an organization that defends online freedom had been fruitless.

Mr. O'Connor said that for several counts of copyright and trademark infringement, and unauthorized use of Evony's code and images, Mr. Holland should pay damages laid out in statutes that added up to $825,000, plus interest and the costs and attorney fees incurred by Evony.

"I wish I did" have that kind of money, Mr. Holland said.

Mr. O'Connor asked Judge McVerry to issue an injunction barring Mr. Holland from operating his Web site. The judge said he will rule on that, and on the damages request, soon.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542


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