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Gibson Sues EA, MTV, Harmonix over Rock Band; Update: Harmonix Responds, Denies Allegations

by Chris Faylor, Mar 21, 2008 3:20pm PDT

Update: Rock Band developer Harmonix has issued a response to the lawsuit, labeling guitar maker Gibson's claims of patent infringement "completely without merit."

"It is unfortunate that Gibson unfairly desires to share in the tremendous success enjoyed by the developers of Rock Band and Guitar Hero," a Harmonix spokesperson told Shacknews. "This lawsuit is completely without merit and we intend to defend it vigorously.

"Gibson's patent, filed nearly 10 years ago, required a 3D display, a real musical instrument and a recording of a concert," Harmonix's statement continued. "Rock Band and Guitar Hero are completely different: among other things they are games, require no headset and use a controller only shaped like a real instrument."

Original Story: Continuing its recent legal activity, guitar manufacturer Gibson has sued Rock Band developer Harmonix, along with owner MTV Networks and publisher Electronic Arts, for infringing on one of its patents.

According to Gibson, Harmonix--which developed the multi-instrument music title Rock Band (PS2, PS3, X360) and created the Guitar Hero series--violated a 1999 patent for technology that simulates a concert performance via pre-recorded audio and a musical instrument.

The guitar maker sued six retailers--GameStop, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, Target, Toys "R" Us and Kmart--earlier this week for selling publisher Activision's Guitar Hero line of music games.

"Gibson Guitar had made good faith efforts to enter into a patent license agreement with the defendants in this case," Gibson said of the Harmonix filing. "The defendants have not responded in a timely manner with an intent to enter into negotiations for a patent license agreement.

"Gibson Guitar had no alternative but to bring the suit, and it will continue to protect its intellectual property rights against any and all infringing persons."

Following notification of the supposed patent infringement earlier this year, Activision filed a motion to invalidate Gibson's patent, claiming that its Guitar Hero games do not violate the patent and that the three-year delay between the debut of Guitar Hero and Gibson's allegation had granted the company an implied license.





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