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Microsoft Demanding Some Of Immersion's Patent Booty From Sony

from the ah,-patent-law dept

A few weeks back, we wrote about how Immersion was involved in a bizarre lawsuit involving a firm focused on the "teledildonics" market (look it up -- or, actually, you're probably better off not). Immersion, of course, is well known in the tech world for holding a bunch of patents on "haptic" technology, which many people are more familiar with as "force feedback" in devices like video game controllers. Immersion is not afraid to use its patents and has been involved in numerous lawsuits -- with the big one yielding $130 million from Sony for the force feedback controllers used in the PlayStation. The case mentioned a few weeks ago involved a shell firm that Immersion had done a deal with. Since Immersion didn't want to smear its own name by suing companies involved in force feedback sex devices, it basically licensed the legal rights out to this shell company. However, that shell company felt that Immersion owed it some of the $130 million Sony booty.

While the case with the shell company has now been dismissed, Joe Mullin notes an even more interesting case: Microsoft is also demanding a large cut of the Sony settlement money. Here's where things get tricky. Basically, Immersion had sued Microsoft as well for violating the patents. But, as we've seen other companies do, part of the settlement terms between Immersion and Microsoft are that Microsoft would join the patent battle against Sony and get a cut of any settlement money that came out of that lawsuit. In effect, rather than just paying up to license the patent, Microsoft switched sides in the lawsuit.

However, Immersion used some sneaky tricks to skirt around its agreement with Microsoft -- most specifically never referring to its deal with Sony as a "settlement." Thus, it claimed that it doesn't owe a dime to Microsoft (some thanks Microsoft got for paying up, huh?). So now Microsoft has sued, though muddling the whole case is the fact that in filing the lawsuit, Microsoft released some confidential info, which caused Immersion to sue Microsoft as well. And just think, folks, all this money being spent on lawyers could actually have gone into making better game controllers. But who wants to do that when there are more lawyers to pay?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    illegalprelude, May 30th, 2008 @ 3:20pm

    ....

    wow. I remember this whole thing and all this did was get sony to be a shit loads of money, and the consumer got raped because we couldnt have Rumble on our controller for over a year and now, we finally get rumble back but of course, have to buy a new controller. Thanks Immersion.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    danimal, May 30th, 2008 @ 4:04pm

    nicely done...

    Others have tried and failed, but Techdirt has finally been able to work Microsoft, Sony and teledildonics all into the same story. Hats off to you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    JohnOpincar, May 30th, 2008 @ 5:39pm

    What do you call 1000 lawyers...

    at the bottom of the sea? A good start. I know it's old and tired but it's the first thing that came to mind when I read this. Is there any hope for us?

     

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  4.  
    icon
    ConceptJunkie (profile), May 30th, 2008 @ 7:30pm

    Immersion == Patent Trolls

    Immersion's only reason for existing is to acquire patents they didn't invent and sue people. That's it.

    In this situation, I would actually root for Microsoft (and Sony, of course) because while Microsoft plays the patent game defensively, because they have to just like everyone else, they have not abused that system, which is the sole reason Immersion exists.

    Heh. I just realized I'm not only defending Microsoft, but giving them credit for not doing something evil. Wow! That sure is a blue moon. And whadaya know? There's a guy in a red suit with a pitchfork... and he's shivering...

    (However, I will call Microsoft out on their extremely evil FUD campaign to imply they will attack Linux on patent grounds... and they may yet do so, even though they haven't yet.)

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    angry dude, May 30th, 2008 @ 8:49pm

    Re: Immersion == Patent Trolls

    "Microsoft plays the patent game defensively, because they have to just like everyone else, they have not abused that system"

    Idiot

    MShit has deliberately polluted USPTO with thousands upon thousands of junk patents, diminishing the value of true inventions made by others and greatly abusing the process
    Everyone knows it
    Also "defensive patents" are nonsense
    patent is the right to exclude others from making, selling etc.
    Read the books, not techdit, little punk

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    ulle, May 30th, 2008 @ 9:22pm

    Ahhh, my week would not be complete without seeing the delightful gush of utter jibberish that angry dude puts forth, thank you buddy!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    steveballmer, May 30th, 2008 @ 10:46pm

    WRONG!

    We don't pay the lawyers! Not one penny!
    The deal we have with the law firms representing us is that they make their own money using our name and we get a 22.5% cut of any positive proceeds!

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2008 @ 1:03am

    Re: Re: Immersion == Patent Trolls

    There are simply thousands of junk patents. The very fact that you ADMIT that there are junk patents is impressive, oh ferrious Cronus

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2008 @ 1:05am

    Re: Re: Immersion == Patent Trolls

    And you have almost the correct definition, except patent is the PRIVILEGE not the right.

    AWESOME! Now you just have to realise that junk patents are not harmless if they're passed, and they're for something that's been invented a long time ago!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2008 @ 1:35am

    Re: Immersion == Patent Trolls

    "....but giving them credit for not doing something evil." So you think that switching sides in the original suit just so they could give Sony a hard time and get some of the settlement money was not evil ?.
    Wouldn't it be much better if patent suits were settled on the issues of who legitimately patented what ?

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2008 @ 6:53am

    Ha Ha

    That patent is really screwing people.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Willton, May 31st, 2008 @ 8:26pm

    And just think, folks, all this money being spent on lawyers could actually have gone into making better game controllers. But who wants to do that when there are more lawyers to pay?

    Right, because the money being paid to lawyers really came out of the R&D budget. Please....

     

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  13.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jun 1st, 2008 @ 1:17am

    Re:

    Right, because the money being paid to lawyers really came out of the R&D budget. Please....

    You do realize that R&D budgets would be a lot bigger if they didn't have to budget so much money for bogus lawsuits, right?

    So, yes, the money being paid to lawyers decreases the R&D budget.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    DanC, Jun 2nd, 2008 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Immersion == Patent Trolls

    Angry dude has always believed that junk patents exist. The problem is that he mistakenly believes that only corporations own junk patents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Willton, Jun 4th, 2008 @ 8:02am

    Re: Re:

    No, it decreases the profit margin of the company. The money being paid for legal expenses is coming out of the company's profit margin, not their R&D budget. Don't assume for a second that if the company did not have to pay legal expenses it would suddenly throw that money back into the company.

    By the way, these are not bogus lawsuits. A suit for breach of contract is not bogus if there was actually an agreement that one side decided not to follow. That's exactly what's happening here.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    unknownsoundman, Jun 14th, 2008 @ 11:37pm

    telediddonics

    What a word for getting screwed and yet
    getting nothing and still getting screwed...
    that is f#@$ed up.
    Still, this does not suprise me
    because MS, and Sony are involved. They are "The
    Masters of Screw Them First, You May Not Have Another Chance".
    Rootkit anyone?
    Oops, you have chosen to try to listen to music that we did not sell you, so this device will not play it, even though you own the rights to play it on your own(ed) computer.
    They should put MS and Sony in the same room and charge them both with conspiracy
    > to monitor users personal habits...with out consent.
    TELE DILDONICS> F#%$ or be F%#@ed!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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