Gibson Sues Six Retailers for Selling Guitar Hero; GameStop, Amazon, Wal-Mart and Others Named

Update: In its legal filings, Gibson named the six retailers it is targeting for their sales of Guitar Hero: GameStop,, Wal-Mart, Target, Toys "R" Us and Kmart.

Original Story: Guitar manufacturer Gibson has announced that it is pursuing legal action against unspecified retailers for selling publisher Activision's popular Guitar Hero line of music video games, an action that Gibson claims infringes on one of its patents.

"Gibson Guitar took this action reluctantly, but is required to protect its intellectual property and will continue to do so against any other person in accordance with the law and its rights," the company proclaimed in a statement.

Earlier this year, Gibson began claiming that Activision's Guitar Hero games violate a 1999 patent for technology that simulates a concert performance via pre-recorded audio and a musical instrument.

Gibson had previously granted Activision and subsidiary RedOctane the license to use Gibson instruments in the Guitar Hero games, and as a model for the series' guitar-shaped controllers.

In response, Activision filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate Gibson's patent, saying that Guitar Hero does not violate the patent and that the three-year delay between the debut of Guitar Hero and Gibson's allegation has granted the company an implied license.

"Gibson had tried to settle this issue by negotiating directly with Activision as soon as the patent filed through one of Gibson's divisions was discovered and validated by outside counsel," the company's statement continued.

"Activision chose to initiate litigation without notice to Gibson. Now Gibson must pursue enforcement of its patent which predates the launch of the Guitar Hero game by several years."

Activision released its response to the lawsuit earlier today, before Gibson's public announcement of the legal action.

"Our Guitar Hero retailing partners have done nothing wrong," claimed Activision. "We will confront this and any other efforts by Gibson to wrongfully interfere with Activision's relationship with its customers and its consumers.

"Activision continues to believe that Gibson's claims are disingenuous and lack any justification," Activision's statement continued. "Gibson waited three years to make its patent allegations, and only did so after it became clear that Activision was not interested in renewing its marketing and support agreement with Gibson.

"Gibson's lawsuit is a transparent end run around an impartial court that Activision asked on March 11 to rule on patent assertions that Gibson knows have no merit."

Chris Faylor was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

From The Chatty
Hello, Meet Lola