Gibson, Activision Battle Over “Simulating A Live Performance Using A Musical Instrument” Patent
Earlier this year, Gibson Guitar informed Activision that its Guitar Hero video games violate a 1999 patent for technology to simulate a musical performance. The music manufacturer was probably hoping for a nice additional licensing payday, since the concern is already licensing its guitars for the popular video game. However, Activision didn’t like their attitude and has asked a U.S. court to find the claim, and the patent invalid.
The Guitar Hero series has sold more than 14 million units in North America and raked in more than $1 billion since its 2005 debut, which makes it ripe for patent terrorists. Earlier this week, Activision filed a lawsuit asking the U.S. District Court for Central California to declare Gibson’s patent invalid and to bar it from seeking damages. Gibson made its claims in a letter sent to Activision in January, a copy of which was included in Activision’s lawsuit.
Gibson, whose electric guitars are used by legendary blues and rock artists such as Eric Clapton, B.B. King, and Slash, 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 game. “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,” Activision general counsel George Rose said in a statement.
A copy of Gibson’s patent included in the court filing showed a method for simulating a live performance using a musical instrument, a 3D headset with stereo speakers, and a prerecorded concert.