updated 08:50 pm EST, Tue March 3, 2009
Court rejects Gibson suit
A California court has dismissed Gibson Guitar's lawsuit against Activision over the input devices used in the Guitar Hero game. The gaming company was sued for violating the "'405 Patent" which covers a system for generating and controlling a simulated musical concert experience, although the claims are geared for using real guitars as input for applications such as in-store demos. The court's strongly worded filing claims that Gibson's arguments "border on the frivolous."
"Gibson contends that the '405 Patent covers any system where a users controls something 'musical' with any device," wrote Mariana Pfaelzer, US District Judge. "No reasonable person could thing 'actual musical instrument' covers every conceivable device." She noted that Gibson's rationale would include the buttons of a DVD remote as covered by the patent, or even tapping a pencil on a table.
The court agreed with Activision's opinion that the patent claims exclude instruments that only produce musical sounds after another component processes the output signal. The Guitar Hero controllers send a non-musical signal to the gaming console, which then converts the signal into a musical sound.
"Gibson must concede this point because, for example and without limitation, the clacking of buttons as they are struck are (1) insufficiently varied or distinct; and (2) no reasonable person could say that any musical sounds heard during the standard operation of a Guitar Hero controller come from the controller itself," the ruling read.
Although Gibson initiated the suit after Activision decided not to renew unrelated licenses, the guitar-maker is also suing Electronic Arts, Harmonix and MTV for their involvement with Rock Band, along with retailers such as Amazon, Target, Walmart and K-Mart. [via CNET News]