Gibson Sues More Than Just Activision Over Virtual Music Concert Patent

from the who-else-can-we-sue dept

Remember how Activision had preemptively sued Gibson for a declaratory judgment that it didn't infringe on a really questionable patent concerning a computerized guitar for a "virtual" concert? Well, Gibson has now struck back, and it's not just suing Activision, but almost all the retailers who sell it as well, including Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Amazon.com, Toys 'R' Us and GameStop. The idea, clearly, is to have those retailers put pressure on Activision. Update: Wired reports that the lawsuit also covers a bunch of other companies. Basically, Gibson is suing anyone even remotely connected to video games that involve fake guitars.

Of course, there are all sorts of questionable things about this lawsuit. As we pointed out when Activision first sued, Gibson's patent doesn't seem similar to "Guitar Hero" at all. It talks about playing a real concert, with a real guitar (with strings) attached to a head mounted display. Also, as Activision points out, Gibson didn't care about the patent as long as Activision and Gibson had a marketing agreement. They only started calling for patent infringement after the marketing agreement ended. Finally, suing retailers for selling the game is quite sketchy. In fact, the Supreme Court just heard a case looking at whether or not that was legit, and the Justices sounded quite skeptical. Gibson is clearly posturing to try to push for a settlement -- and in the process, showing yet another way to abuse the patent system.
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Filed Under: guitar hero, lawsuits, patents, retailers, supply chain
Companies: activision, amazon, gamestop, gibson, kmart, target, toys r us, wal-mart


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  1. identicon
    PaddyMag, 22 Mar 2008 @ 6:37am

    Are you kidding me!?

    So I looked up and read the Patent(Patent number: 5990405 http://www.google.com/patents?id=YAUZAAAAEBAJ) and the only portions that have any possible bearing are System of Claim 13c
    (13. A system for simulating participation of a user playing a musical instrument in a pre-recorded musical performance having audio and video portions, the musical instrument producing instrument audio signals at an instrument audio output when the instrument is played, comprising: c. the source audio control device is responsive to the instrument audio signals whereby at least one characteristic of the audio portion of the pre-recorded musical performance is controlled by playing of the musical instrument by the user. )
    and 25
    (25. A method of a simulating participation by a musician in a recorded concert comprising the steps of a. playing on a playback device a pre-recorded concert video track in synchronization with a pre-recorded concert sound track and a pre-recorded instrument sound track; b. separating the instrument sound track from the concert sound track and providing the separated instrument sound track to a control device; c. varying in the control circuit at least one parameter of the instrument sound track in response to audio signals generated by a musical instrument when played by the musician, thereby generating a controlled instrument sound track; and d. providing a normal simulation mode in which the controlled instrument sound track and the concert sound track are played on a sound system in synchronization with display of the concert video track.)
    Both of these are vague to an extreme. So vague in fact that any game in which you are a musician could be included. In the areas where thay aren't vague, even a moron can see that Even System of Claim 25 has a fault in Activision's favor in that it states that the participant is a musician playing a musical instrument, not a video game controller. Then the real laugh sets in...take a look at the diagram listed in the patent for the system.
    The system calls for:
    1. A Real Guitar (not a controller)
    2. An Interface with a bypass
    3. An Effects Bank
    4. Audio mixer
    5. DVD/BETA player (BETA!!! Are you serious?)
    6. Stereoscopic headset

    This patent is in no way being infringed on by Activision (or Harmonix for Rock Band), who is using a guitar shaped controller, connected to a video game console where you occasionally see a computer generated band on stage (Not real life footage as in the patent), played by a console gamer, not necessarily a musician (I know both real musicians and gamers who play and love this game).

    What else can I say...Gibson, like most of corporate America, is greedy to a fault, and jealous that their "Music Experience" didn't work out for them, now they want MORE of the fruits of someone else's labor. They already were paid for licensing to have models of their guitars displayed in the game. Do they really need more? I think not!

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