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Category — Patent Cases

Gibson Sues MTV, EA & Harmonix over Guitar Patent

Categories: Controller CasesPatent CasesRoyalty Disputes

Text of MTV/EA/Harmonix Complaint (March 20, 2008)
Text Patent No. 5,990,405 (November 23, 1999)

After “good faith efforts to enter into a patent license agreement”, and subsequent yesterday’s filing of law suits against Activision’s Guitar Hero retailers, Gibson has filed another patent infringement suit against MTV, EA & Harmonix in the Federal District Court in Tennessee. Gibson owns patent no. 5,990,405.

Gibson claims Harmonix infringed its patent as the developer of Guitar Hero 1 and 2 (now published by Activision – previously published by RedOctane). After Harmonix parted ways with RedOctane, it was purchased by MTV. Harmonix subsequently developed the successful video game – Rock Band. EA distributes the game. Gibson claims that Rock Band infringes its patents and as such Harmonix, the game developer, MTV, the game publisher and EA, the game distributor, are all infringing its patents.

Harmonix has responded in an email to Wired Blog’s as follows:

“Gibson’s patent, filed nearly 10 years ago, required a 3D display, a real musical instrument and a recording of a concert. Rock Band and Guitar Hero are completely different: among other things they are games, require no headset and use a controller only shaped like a real instrument. It is unfortunate that Gibson unfairly desires to share in the tremendous success enjoyed by the developers of Rock Band and Guitar Hero,”

While Gibson previously threatened action against the current Guitar Hero publisher Activision, as far as I know, no law suit has been filed against Activision.

The 405 patent’s abstract reads:

A musician can simulate participation in a concert by playing a musical instrument and wearing a head-mounted 3D display that includes stereo speakers. Audio and video portions of a musical concert are pre-recorded, along with a separate sound track corresponding to the musical instrument played by the musician. Playback of the instrument sound track is controlled by signals generated in the musical instrument and transmitted to a system interface box connected to the audio-video play back device, an audio mixer, and the head-mounted display. An external bypass switch allows the musician to suppress the instrument sound track so that the sounds created by actual playing of the musical instrument are heard along with the pre-recorded audio and video portions.

Dale’s Comment: I have not yet found the text of the claim online. If/when I do, I will attach it to this post.

Sources: Wired Blogs 1 | Wired Blogs 2 | CNNMOney.com (DJN) | Reuters | Joystiq | New York Times 1 | New York Times 2 | Wall St. Journal | MTV Blog | PC World | AP

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Gibson Sues U.S. Retailers Over Guitar Hero Patent Dispute

Categories: Controller CasesPatent Cases

Text of Patent No. 5,990,405 (November 23, 1999)

As previously reported: (i) in January, Gibson pressed Activision to pay it royalty fees alleging the video game Guitar Hero infringes its patent; and (ii) on March 12, 2008 Activision filed a preemptive lawsuit in the District Court for Central California seeking, among other things, to invalidate Gibson’s patent claims.

In response to Activision’s lawsuit, Gibson has now filed suit against major U.S. retailers of Activision’s game, including GameStop, Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Amazon and Toys “R” US, seeking to enjoin further sails of “Guitar Hero”.

March 21, 2oo8 Upate: While Gibson has since separately sued Harmonix, MTV and EA over alleged infringements in both Guitar Hero and Guitar Hero, as far as I’m aware Gibson has not yet filed suit directly against Activision.

Dale’s Comment: I have not found the text of the claim online. If/when I do, I will attach it to this post.

Sources: GameSpot | Dallas Business Journal | New York Times | Joystiq | msnbc (AP) | Yahoo! Tech | Gamasutra | CrunchGear | Silicon Alley Insider | Kotaku

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Activision Asks Court to Invalidate Gibson’s Guitar Hero Patent Claims

Categories: Controller CasesPatent CasesRoyalty Disputes

Text of Activision Complaint Seeking Declaratory Relief (March 11, 2008)
Text of Patent No. 5,990,405 (November 23, 1999)

Activision has a long-standing license to use guitar-maker Gibson’s trademarks in its Guitar Hero video game franchise.

Gibson owns a hitherto unknown and unenforced patent ’405 (A System and method for generating and controlling a simulated musical concert experience) and claimed in a letter sent to Activision in January, that the Guitar Hero franchise, expansion packs and controllers infringe this patent. In the letter Gibson sought royalty payments from Activision:

Gibson requests that Activision obtain a license under Gibson’s … patent or halt sales of any version of the Guitar Hero game software.

In response, Activision has filed a preemptive lawsuit in the District Court for Central California asking the court, among other things, to invalidate Gibson’s patent claims and to bar it from seeking damages.

The abstract of Gibson’s patent no. 5,990,405 reads as follows:

A musician can simulate participation in a concert by playing a musical instrument and wearing a head-mounted 3D display that includes stereo speakers. Audio and video portions of a musical concert are pre-recorded, along with a separate sound track corresponding to the musical instrument played by the musician. Playback of the instrument sound track is controlled by signals generated in the musical instrument and transmitted to a system interface box connected to the audio-video play back device, an audio mixer, and the head-mounted display. An external bypass switch allows the musician to suppress the instrument sound track so that the sounds created by actual playing of the musical instrument are heard along with the pre-recorded audio and video portions.

Sources: Gamasutra | Next Generation 1 | Next Generation 2 | GameSpot | InformationWeek | engadget | Joystiq | MacWorld | Wall Street Journal | CNet | Yahoo! News (Reuters)

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Sony Finally Settles Rumble Patent Dispute with Immersion

Categories: Controller CasesPatent CasesSettlements

Text of Immersion Patent

Almost a full year after Immersion won an appeal brought by Sony in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, after it lost at trial, and after a year of Sony marketing types insisting that rumble was a last-generation feature that wouldn’t be compatible with its new Sixaxis tilt control scheme, Sony has settled its long-standing patent dispute with Immersion and has licensed Immersion’s patented force feedback technology for use with future “PlayStation format products.”.

Sony will pay Immersion the $82 million previously awarded (Immersion had originally sought $299 million) plus $8.7 million in pre-judgment interest, in addition to compulsory license fees ordered by the District Court that were already paid.” Sony will also pay Immersion royalty/license fees of $1.875 million in each of the next twelve quarters (3 years), beginning in April 2007, totaling $22.5 million, along with other fees and royalties.

Dale’s Comment [April 30, 2007]: This couldn’t have come soon enough for this gamer. Aside from the exorbitant price and the lack of compelling games, a primary reason I haven’t yet purchased a PS3 (and yes, as I write this, PS3s are stacked high in my local Best Buy) is because I don’t want to play games without force feedback. Force feedback is integral to identifying the location of attacking foe and, frankly, rumble adds another sensory input that emerses the player more fully into the game. To my mind, Sony’s decision to release a console without rumble was akin to releasing a console without sound.

Sony has not yet announced or released a controller with rumble. But, on April 19, 2007 Sony released a PS3 firmware upgrade that activated rumble functionality for PS1 and PS2 games played on the PS3. On April 27, Engadget reported that Sony and Immersion were in talks to incorporate rumble within PS3 controllers. It appears we can expect a rumble-enabled PS3 controller sometime soon. There will likely be no PS3 in my household before then. But, the forthcoming Lair and Warhawk games are mighty tempting.

Sources: Gamasutra | Engadget | IGN.com | GameDaily.com | Immersion Press Release

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Gamasutra Feature: 10 Most Important Video Game Patents

Categories: Featured ArticlesPatent CasesPatents

Love’m or hate’m, video game patents have played an important role in the evolution of the video game industry.

Ross Dannenberg and Steve Chang of Banner & Witcoff, Ltd have put together this terrific feature article: “The Ten Most Important Video Game Patents” for Gamasutra. In assessing the patents’ importance, they used four criteria:

  1. Relativity to Video Games
  2. Financial Value
  3. Technological Importance
  4. The IT-Factor

The winning patents honored/discussed in the piece are:

Check it out, its a good read.

Also, FYI, I have discovered Ross’ Patent Arcade blog where, among other things, he tracks Video Game Lawsuits. For your future reference I have added it to my “Video Game Law Blogs” roll down the right side of my blog (after “Topics”).

Source: Gamasutra

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Fenner Sues Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo Over Joystick Patent

Categories: Controller CasesPatent Cases

Text of 6,297,751 Patent (October 2, 2001)

Yet another controller-related patent suit is being brought against the three major console makers. This time over a patent covering a “Low-Voltage Joystiq Port Interface”. The abstract reads:

 

The joystick port interface includes an integrated circuit receiving an analog joystick position measurement signal and outputting a digital pulse signal to a processor which signifies a joystick coordinate value. The integrated circuit includes a pulse generator and a bidirectional buffer circuit. The bidirectional buffer circuit receives the analog joystick position measurement signal and selectively discharges an RC network capacitor which provides this analog measurement. This implementation provides a joystick port which uses low-voltage CMOS VLSI structures which can interface a conventional high-voltage joystick with the processor.

CONTINUE READING →

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Interlink Claims Nintendo’s Wiimote Infringes its Patent

Categories: Controller CasesPatent Cases

Text of Complaint (December 4, 2006)
Text of Patent ’221
Adding to the existing spate of console controller patent infringement suits (see related posts below) Interlink Electronics, Inc. has sued Nintendo of America claiming Nintendo is selling products, the Nintendo Wii’s Wiimote, that infringe its patents. The abstract reads, in part:

A device particularly for use with a computer comprises a housing for location at least partly between two fingers of a user’s hand and an electronic circuit mounted on a board within the housing. The circuit includes a switch responsive to pressure selectively to open and close an electronic circuit, and conductive elements arranged on the board mounting the electronic circuit. A first control element is mounted with the housing and responsive to finger pressure such that pressure applied to the first control element causes the element to operate the switch.

Sources: Gamasutra | Gizmodo | ars technica | GameSpot | Engadget | GameDaily.biz | Kotaku | Next Generation | TheWire | cbc.ca | IGN | ITWire

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SGI Sues ATI for Patent Infringement

Categories: Patent Cases

Text of ’327 Patent
The suit alleges that ATI’s Radeon graphics charge infringe its patent 6,650,327 describing a display system with floating point rasterisation and buffering. The patent was filed in 1998 and granted in 2003. SGI is just emerging from reorganization after bankruptcy while ATI is in the midst of being taken over by AMD.

The Complaint seeks unspecified damages and a Court Ordered injunction against future infringement by ATI. According to SGI’s press release:

“The Company’s technology covered by the ’327 patent is an important resource in achieving enhanced graphics processing demanded by today’s computer systems,” said Dennis McKenna, CEO of SGI. “SGI has licensed this technology to ATI’s major competitors and, as I have previously been stating publicly, SGI intends to aggressively protect and enforce its IP. This is the first visible step in that process.”

Sources: Gamasutra | Inquirer | Silicon Valley Business Journal | The Register | CNet| ars technica | GameSpot | Daily Tech | Engadget | SGI Press Release

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Konami Settles with Roxor – ‘In the Groove’ IP Transfered to Konami

Categories: Patent CasesSettlementsTrademark CasesUnfair Business Practice Casses

It appears Konami won this one. Roxor has agreed to transfer all IP rights in and to In the Grove to Konami.

Sources: Gamasutra | GameSpot | GameIndustry.biz | Yahoo! Games | joystiq | Konami Press Release | Roxor Press Release

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Paltalk Alleges Microsoft’s Xbox Live Infringes its Patents

Categories: Patent Cases

Text of Complaint
The complaint outlines that Paltalk’s technology covers a number of aspects of online communications, including gaming communications through a group message server to maintain a consistent environment for all players, as well as establishing groups for online game play.
 
Sources: ars technica  |  CNet  |  Seattle PI  |  CrunchGear  |  Digital Trends  |  Inquirer  |  Kotaku  |  Paltalk Press Release

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Microsoft/Nintendo Sued over Controllers

Categories: Controller CasesPatent Cases

Text of Complaint
Texas-based Anascape filed suit on Monday in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, alleging that Microsoft and Nintendo infringed on 12 patents. The patents in question deal with a variety of controller technologies, including analog sensors, tactile feedback, and vibration mechanisms.

Dale’s Comment: OK, one wonders why Sony wasn’t sued as well? Perhaps Microsoft was targeted because it settled quickly with Immersion, while Sony “fought the good fight” for much longer. Nintendo was not targeted by Immersion. This article oddly reports an Immersion spokesperson as saying the reason is because Nintendo claimed it invented force feedback. Huh? If Nintendo invented it, how could Immersion hold the patent. If anyone has any more info on why Anascape hasn’t sued Sony, please contact me.

Sources: GameSpot | Joystiq | Gamasutra | engadget | ars technica | GameDaily.biz | Inquirer | Kotaku | Bit-tech.net | Aussie-Nintendo.com

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Agere Sues Sony in Patent Dispute

Categories: Patent Cases

Agere claims Sony’s PSP, Playstation 2, Playstation 3 and other devices infringe 8 of its patents. Sony claims it already has cross licenses from Agere’s predecessor companies (AT&T/Lucent) for 7 of the patents and that the 8th patent is invalid. Agere is asking for an accounting of profits from such infringements from all Sony divisions and treble damages for willful infringement.
 
Sources: Gamespot  |  Gamasutra  |  engadget  |  PS3 Fanboy

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Is the Lack of Force-Feedback in Sony’s PS3 Controller a Technical or Legal Issue?

Categories: Controller CasesPatent Cases

Sony has explained that the lack of force-feedback in its forth-coming PS3 controller was due to its inherent interference with the PS3 controller’s new tilt feature. However, both Immersion’s claims, and this YouTube video demonstrating the compatibility of force-feedback and tilt functionality in the 1999 Pelican controller for the PS1, suggest that Sony’s decision was less about technological constraints and more about its reluctance to pay royalties to Immersion after losing the force feedback patent case to Immersion.

Sources: PS3 Fanboy (with YouTube video demo) | GameIndustry.biz | Hexus | IGN | Video Game Generation | Business Week | Gamasutra | joystiq

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Stream Theory Files Patent Suit Against Competitors

Categories: Patent Cases

Text of ’334 Patent
Stream Theory today filed a lawsuit against Softricity, AppStream and Exent claiming the three companies are infringing on its U.S. patent number 6,453,334. The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, seeks damages and an injunction against the three companies for their willful infringement of Stream Theory’s patent. The patent’s abstract reads:

A file system driver program executes on a local computer. One or more agent procedures is configured to execute on the local computer to access file resources on behalf of a target process. A security process regulates the access of file resources by the agent procedures. The regulation of the agent procedure by the security procedure is based on a property that is unique to the target process.

Sources: Gamasutra  |  GameIndustry.biz  |  Market Wire  |  InfoWorld

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Microsoft Countersues Lucent over XBox 360 Patents

Categories: Patent Cases

Microsoft Corp. has filed a counter suit against Lucent Technologies Inc. in a dispute over Microsoft’s alleged misuse of patented technology in its Xbox 360 games console. Microsoft denies infringing Lucent’s patent and argues that it is invalid, in part, because Lucent failed to disclose “prior art” in its original patent application. Microsoft has also accused Lucent of infringing several Microsoft patents. Earlier, Lucent had filed suit against Microsoft, arguing that technology used in the Xbox 360 for decoding MPEG2 video files infringes on one of its patents.

Sources: GameDaily.biz | GameIndustry.biz | GameSpot | Total Video Games | Reseller News | CIO | Gamasutra | Seattle Times | Next Generation | 1Up.com | PC World (IDG) | IT World Canada (IDG)

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Lucent Resumes Patent Infringement Claim Against Microsoft over Xbox 360

Categories: Patent Cases

Text of Lucent Patent 5,227,878
Lucent accuses Microsoft of infringing its ‘Adaptive Coding and Decoding of Frames and Fields of Video’ patent, 5,227,878 by providing ‘Out of the box’ MPEG-2 decoding capability. Lucent had launched this action two years ago where it was stalled because of procedural issues. The patent’s abstract reads:

Improved compression of digital signals relating to high resolution video images is accomplished by an adaptive and selective coding of digital signals relating to frames and fields of the video images. Digital video input signals are analyzed and a coding type signal is produced in response to this analysis. This coding type signal may be used to adaptively control the operation of one or more types of circuitry which are used to compress digital video signals so that less bits, and slower bit rates, may be used to transmit high resolution video images without undue loss of quality. For example, the coding type signal may be used to improve motion compensated estimation techniques, quantization of transform coefficients, scanning of video data, and variable word length encoding of the data. The improved compression of digital video signals is useful for video conferencing applications and high definition television, among other things.

Sources: CNet | PC Magazine | The Inquirer | Hexus | XBox Addict | MacWorld | Next Generation | GameDaily.biz | GameIndustry.biz | PC World | Kotaku | 1Up.com | EuroGamer | IGN | GameSpot

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Beware the Patent Troll

Categories: Patent CasesPatents

Patent trolling is becoming a revenue stream for companies that come up with a vague idea, patent it, and “sue the hell” out of anyone that actually puts it into tangible practice. Next-Gen.Biz speaks with attorney Steve Rubin.

Sources: Next Generation | Next Generation Interview with James Rubin

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Immersion Wins Latest Round Of Sony ‘Rumble’ Suit

Categories: Controller CasesDecisionsInjunctionsPatent Cases

Text of Immersion Patent
Sony’s attempt to overturn $90 million lawsuit by Immersion for copyright infringement was rejected. Sony still has an outstanding appeal with the US Court of Appeals for the stay of injunction. Should that case fail, Sony would be legally required to pay the entire $90.7 million and decide whether or not to pay Immersion licensing fees.

Sources: Gamasutra | Gamespot | Next Generation | GameDaily.biz | ars technica | Forbes | IGN | Inquirer | CNet | CVG | joystiq | Playfuls.com | GameIndustry.biz | Hexus | EuroGamer | The Register | PS3Fanboy.com

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Electro Source Follows Others and Settles Immersion Suit

Categories: Controller CasesPatent CasesSettlements

Text of Immersion Patent
Following Microsoft, Radica and others, Electro Source, maker of Pelican video games accessories, settles with Immersion. The settlement covers past royalties and related legal costs in the quarter amounting to $250,000.

Sources: Gamasutra | Next Generation | Business Wire | Next Generation | Computer Graphics World | Forbes

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Atari Epic Games, Valve, Sierra, SCEJ, SCEA and Sony Online Entertainment settle with iEntertainment Network for $175,000

Categories: Patent CasesSettlements

Text of Patent
In December 2004 filed a suit against Atari, Epic, Valve, Sierra and multiple divisions of Sony, including Sony Online Entertainment. The complaint referred to an infringement of patent 6,042,477 (method of and system for minimizing the effects of time latency in multiplayer electronic games played on interconnected computers).

Sources: GameDaily.biz | Gamasutra | Next Generation

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Atari, Other Parties Settle Major AVG Game Patent ’690 Suit

Categories: Patent CasesSettlements

Text of ’690 Patent
Major U.S. game publisher and developer Atari has released the paperwork surrounding its latest financials, and embedded within the document is significant news on the firm’s $300,000 settlement of the American Video Graphics video game patent lawsuit, a suit which other parties have now apparently settled.

Sources: Gamasutra | Next Generation | GameIndustry.biz | Gamespot | GameDaily.biz

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Yahoo!, Xfire Settle Lawsuit

Categories: Patent CasesSettlements

Yearlong dispute over patents used in Yahoo Messenger settled. Yahoo! had sued Xfire for using in-game friend finding technology that allegedly infringes Yahoo’s Messenger patent 6,699,125.

Sources: GameSpot

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Xfire, Yahoo! Near Terms for Patent Dispute Settlement

Categories: Patent CasesSettlements

Pivotal hearing in early December scrapped as parties seek to settle patent infringement lawsuit out of court. Yahoo! had sued Xfire for using in-game friend finding technology that allegedly infringes Yahoo’s Messenger patent 6,699,125.

Sources: GameSpot | TG Daily Reports the Parties have Settled

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Expired Nintendo Patents Do Not Necessarily Mean Expired Protection

Categories: Featured ArticlesPatent CasesPatents

While Certain NES patents have expired, others have not. Expired patents do not negated copyright, trade-mark and trade secret protections.

Source: GamaSutra Feature

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Konami Files Lawsuit Against Roxor Over Dance Game

Categories: Patent CasesTrademark CasesUnfair Business Practice Casses

Dance Dance Revolution creator Konami has filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Texas against Roxor Games, Inc., asking the court to grant an injunction and damages against Roxor’s In The Groove dance game alleging trademark dilution, unfair competition and patent infringement.

Sources: Gamasutra | EuroGamer | GameIndustry.biz | Konami Press Release | Wikipedia Coverage

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