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?

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: immersion, microsoft, sony

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Comments on “Microsoft Demanding Some Of Immersion's Patent Booty From Sony”

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16 Comments
ConceptJunkie (profile) says:

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.)

angry dude says:

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

Anonymous Coward says:

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 ?

Willton says:

Re: 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.

unknownsoundman says:

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!

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