Patent dispute between Gibson and Activision
US guitar manufacturer Gibson has accused Activision of using patented technology without permission in its Guitar Hero console game. Gibson started court proceedings in January. According to Wall Street Journal, Activision has now replied with a counter claim. The games manufacturer wants to achieve a ruling stating that Gibson's patent is not used in Guitar Hero. According to the report, the claim states that Gibson encouraged Activision to continue manufacturing and distributing the program in the past.
The legal dispute concerns US patent 5,990,405, which was granted in late 1999 and deals with a system and method for generating and controlling simulated music performances. It enables musicians to use 3D display goggles and headphones to simulate and actively participate in a concert.
Gibson claims Activision uses techniques described in the patent in its software and in the guitar-shaped controller without having a license to do so. The guitar manufacturer has offered Activision licenses for the techniques, says Wall Street Journal.
Gibson and Activision have already had business contact in the past. Among other things, the games manufacturer acquired trademark rights to "Les Paul" in connection with the Guitar Hero controller. Activision's lawyer George Rose emphasised the previously good relationship between the two companies. She said, however, that opinions differ regarding the patent in question.
Guitar Hero was developed by Harmonix Music Systems and released by RedOctane for Playstation 2 at the end of 2005. Harmonix was sold to MTV Networks the year after while RedOctane was taken over by Activision. The Guitar Hero series is now developed and maintained by Activision subsidiary Neversoft.