Guitar Hero Sues Gibson over Patent
This one's a little like watching cousins sue each other in court, but Gibson Guitar Inc has told Activision Inc that its wildly popular Guitar Hero video games infringes one of their 1999 patents which deals with simulating a musical performance. And no, Gibson didn't patent air-guitar. Last week, Activision filed a lawsuit, asking a U.S. court to find the claim invalid and bar Gibson from seeking any damages.
What makes this so weird is that Gibson's Les Paul is the model for the game's newest wireless guitar. This is the premier guitar controller which has the ability to handle various skins. For Gibson to suddenly say "Oh by the way your game is in violation of one of our patents" is a major shock considering the relationship. Gibson has been a high-profile partner in the Guitar Hero games, with Activision licensing the rights to model its controllers on Gibson guitar models and to use their likenesses in the actual gameplay.
According to Activision's lawyers: "Gibson is a good partner, and we have a great deal of respect for
them. We disagree with the applicability of their patent and would like
a legal determination on this."
At the time of the Reuters report, Gibson had not made an official comment.
According to the Gibson patent, which can be viewed online, some of the claims include:
A system for electronically simulating participation by a user in a pre-recorded musical performance comprising:
- a. a musical instrument, the musical instrument generating an instrument audio signal at an instrument audio output, the instrument audio signal varying in response to operation of the instrument by the user of the system;
- b. a video source providing a source video signal at a source video output, the source video signal representing a video portion of the pre-recorded musical performance;
- c. a video display responsive to the source video signal whereby the user can view the video portion of the pre-recorded musical performance on the video display;
- d. an audio source providing a source audio signal at a source audio output, the source audio signal representing an audio portion of the pre-recorded musical performance, the audio portion including an instrument sound track containing pre-recorded musical sounds that would be generated by the musical instrument in the pre-recorded musical performance;
- e. a system interface device having a first audio input electrically connected to the instrument audio output, a second audio input electrically connected to the source audio output, and a first interface audio output;
- f. the system interface device including a source audio control circuit responsive to the instrument audio signal, whereby a characteristic of the source audio signal is controlled in response to operation of the musical instrument by the user to provide a controlled source audio signal at the first interface audio output; and
- g. an audio playback transducer responsive to the controlled source audio signal such that the user can listen to the audio portion of the pre-recorded musical performance on the transducer, in synchronization with the video portion.
The letter submitted by Gibson's law firm states: "Based on our preliminary analysis, the 'Guitar Hero' software (including any expansion packs) and the guitar controller provided by Activision being used as a musical instrument (packaged with the software or sold standalone) are covered by the... patent... Gibson requests that Activision obtain a license under Gibson's patent or halt sales of any version of the 'Guitar Hero' game software."
Activision is maintaining that its games do not infringe Gibson's patent, and that the three years the company delayed raising its claim pretty much implies permission or an implied license to use any patented technology.
Recent Forum Posts:
stratman, post: 389146Poor, hard working cavmen just can't get good quality guitars for cheap anymore.
Gibson isn't what it use to be. Neither is Fender.
Gibson is one of my company's customers.
Are we having fun yet?