Gibson Xploring Guitar Hero patent infringement

Longtime supporter of Activision's best-selling rhythm franchise claims game violates patent filed in 1999 for "technology for simulating a musical performance."

Last year, Activision discovered that its $100 million purchase of RedOctane in 2006 had paid off in spades, with the publisher touting the fact that the Guitar Hero franchise had shifted 14 million-plus units in North America alone and aggregated revenue of more than $1 billion in the process. A mountain of cash that high doesn't go without notice, however, and the publisher has been fending off lawsuits concerning the franchise seemingly around every corner.

In the second suit concerning Guitar Hero to surface for the week, longtime RedOctane partner Gibson Guitar Inc. has made an appeal to Activision claiming patent infringement, reports Reuters. In a letter sent to Activision in January, Gibson claims Guitar Hero infringes on one of its patents granted in 1999 for "technology for simulating a musical performance." The patent, a copy of which was included in Activision's court filing, details a method for using instruments to simulate a live performance, and provides for a 3D headset with stereo speakers and a prerecorded concert.

Gibson has licensed the use of its guitars as controllers and in-game items for Guitar Hero since the first installment in the franchise debuted in 2005. Most recently, Activision licensed nine different Gibson guitars to appear in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, as well as modeled its controller after the company's popular Les Paul. According to the letter sent to Activision, Reuters reports that Gibson is requesting that the publisher "obtain a license under Gibson's...patent or halt sales of any version of the 'Guitar Hero' game software."

Unsurprisingly, Reuters reports that Activision has asked the US District Court of Central California to throw out Gibson's suit and prevent the guitar maker from seeking damages. In a statement issued to GameSpot, Activision general counsel George Rose said, "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." Reuters also noted that even were the patent upheld, Gibson's three-year dalliance has granted Activision an implied license for the use of the technology.

Gibson had not responded to GameSpot's requests for comment as of press time.

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Discussion

219 comments
EvilLlama600
EvilLlama600

yay 4 patent dodging! according to game informer, GH4 will include in-game custom guitars using a create-a-guitar system ...and drums.

hitman498
hitman498

The execs at gibson are pigs because they are suing for that stupid patent. When they screw us out of our hardearned money with over charging for US manufacturing for guitars they make then they sue a game that is making them tons of money. In gaming and real guitars. Just because of a patent that should have expired just like their patent on their PAF humbucker pickups. If they were planning to sue then why are the GH GH2 and GH3 guitars are all modeled after gibson or gibson made guitars (Kramer Striker). It just does not make any sense why isn't Guitar Center suing because their execs are not pricks like Gibson. Also unlike Gibson, Guitar Center actually enjoys making money patent or no patent, lawsuit or no lawsuit. Unless Gibson has a better reason I'm not buying a gibson made product until this ridiculous thing is resolved.

FathaLove
FathaLove

I don't get it. Guitar Hero is a giant advertisement for them.

jimmulvaney
jimmulvaney

I have to agree with the vast majority of comments below but one in particular... jsrock_on54: I will take a Fender over a Gibson any day. Though i would kill to see my BC Rich Rave II or Warlock , perhaps a Mockingbird with a Pinhead face plate? ;) BC Rich could totally raise the bar especially if they license some of the custom paint jobs as removable face-plates!

324GaMeR324
324GaMeR324

Way to go Gibson I just lost a lot of respect for you. How stupid is this, you license the god damn controller to be modelled as your guitar 3 times!!! You give license to have dozens of your guitars appear in the game... and then all of a sudden you sue!!! WTF GIBSON. As soon as the game becomes most popular Gibson sues.. wow like they don't have enough money.

johndoh4
johndoh4

Looks like Harmonix got out of dodge just in time.

Virus214
Virus214

to babingka. They don't hit harmonix, cause harmonix is working with Red Octane.

coolmage
coolmage

So does this mean no more GH: Aerosmith? until this stupidity is resolved?

anarchy69yoda
anarchy69yoda

cmon. i knew this would happen. not really. ha. make GH so u can use ur own song

PhantomPhoot
PhantomPhoot

Can anyone please explain what kind of logic is being used here? Ever since Activision and Neversoft took over GH, there have been nothing but problems for them. First the lack of PS3 Rock Band controller compatability,and now this. I'm beginning to think that these lawsuits make no sense.

ChickenHounk911
ChickenHounk911

Hey kids, make sure you get your patents in for things like : Cooking Simulators, Pet walking Simulators, Actual Date Simulators. When the games get made in the near future, you guys will be RICH!

staring_death
staring_death

sniff!sniff! can you feel it? it smells like money!

babingka
babingka

What I don't get is why Gibson hasn't hit Harmonix with the same law suit for making Rock Band. It's basically the exact same thing sans a few buttons.

grant4500neo
grant4500neo

this is all bs why didn't they say anything BEFORE they started supporting Giutar Hero. suspicious.

jsrock_on54
jsrock_on54

sounds like GHIV will be featuring Fender or Paul Reed Smith

yinyang3
yinyang3

Hopefully I'll be able to play Gibson guitars in Rock Band now.

vf21x
vf21x

And the Guitar Hero greed bandwagon continues......................

the-bat-child
the-bat-child

OK, Gibson, this is just..... AH F*** It, not even worth a comment.

comfnumb82
comfnumb82

Gibson isn't exactly known for playing mr. nice guy. As fleeb said, they're pretty known for being a conglomorate squashing the compotition. while i'm mentioning fleeb, i gotta respect anyone who has the cover of surfing witht he slien as their icon

muffinduck01
muffinduck01

this is why gibson has really lowerd the bar for itself and the quality of its guitars in recent years now i defiatly know im getting an Ibanez next and not a gibson

Zoomer30
Zoomer30

Its all greed. Gibson is no better than any other "patent squatter" out there. They "patent" something with no intention of USING the patent, then try to make $$$ when someone does. Patent Squatting is the new way to stop competition.

Get_Shorty
Get_Shorty

What about sueing Rock Band as well? They simulate a live performance. Why just GH? Looks like Gibson kruncked up sueing the hand that feeds them. Good-bye Gibson in GH and hello it's arch rival Fender.

Zoomer30
Zoomer30

So they allow them to use the things in GH and then sue them for using them.....I say it again, do we need to ask why no alien civs will return our phone calls??

Timmy_Gwar
Timmy_Gwar

A cheap move and one typical of a mass producing corporation rather than an artisticly based consumer oriented company. My next guitar is going to be a Fender.

FLEEBS
FLEEBS

Being a guitar player and an ex-guitar salesman, this is another one of Gibson's dirty tricks that just hurts the consumer and themselves as a company. Their recent "marketing tactics" (not to mention service tactics) are absolutely ridiculous. For a game that actively advertises one of the most expensive guitar companies in the world to shove this in their partner's face is disturbing. You can't tell me that Guitar Hero has not generated interest and sales in Gibson or Epiphone guitars. I have no respect for Gibson; only the players that use them.

Brokendemise
Brokendemise

It's kind of silly. Gibson definitely pulled this one out of grandma's basement.

blitztwn36
blitztwn36

@BringTheBlood. If you'd read a little more carefully or have any knowledge of law you might realize that by Gibson licensing their guitar design to Activision and collaborating in the development of the guitar, there is an implied license. Essentially Gibson authorized the work through collaboration. Otherwise, what was preventing Gibson from working on the development of Guitar Hero and right as it was completed it filed a suit saying "WAIT NO, THAT'S OURS!" It's not fair at all to Activision. This case has no chance in a US court. It's not like Activision went around Gibson's back and designed it's own Les Paul-esque guitar and was like 'that's our original design.' Then Gibson has a case. Easy on the stupid little kids remark, since you are the one that is erring - because this is all about the money. It's America, what else would it be about.

darkdragonmage9
darkdragonmage9

Gibson is already geting a cut of the profit i don't really see why they are so pissed they get money for all those lisanced guitars now they want to quote a patent that really doesn't seem to apply if you ask me details a method for using instruments to simulate a live performance, and provides for a 3D headset with stereo speakers and a prerecorded concert. the controler is not an intrument it's shaped like one but it's one too small and two does not play music

Kenji_Masamune
Kenji_Masamune

Ah yes, greed: the american dream. Looking at what's going on here nowadays, they should really only teach kids 1 simple thing in school and nothing else - Learn to suck Benjamin Franklins **** because that is all we all care about - money.

Mau-Justice
Mau-Justice

Yea, Guitar hero has been out for years. Gibson has even been a supporter. It's too late for a lawsuit in my eyes. If they had a problem it should have been adressed earlier. Just looks like they are trying to get a hand in the cookie jar.

BringTheBlood
BringTheBlood

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

speed45823
speed45823

Its other words, Gibson's trying to say is, "WE WANT YOUR MONEY".

Artemis_D
Artemis_D

But come on... this lawsuit is silly. I understand that at the end of the day, it's business, but really. Come one. They see someone making a heap of cash, and they want a cut. That's all it boils down to.

THE_DZA
THE_DZA

"Filaki In legal terms, you can sue the sky if you were so inclined, or ants for bothering you. That doesn't mean it makes much sense or that a judge will rule in your favour" What? You have very little idea of how the legal system works beyond some generalized and false notion that lawsuits in general are usually bogus.

joey4uncw
joey4uncw

Hopefully this will be quickly dismissed in court. It does seem like they did make a pretty general patent that they were hoping someone would walk within 30 miles of so they could say...HA...Gotcha. The fact that they granted the license for the guitars for so long I don't think bodes well for their lawsuit.

Filaki
Filaki

In legal terms, you can sue the sky if you were so inclined, or ants for bothering you. That doesn't mean it makes much sense or that a judge will rule in your favour

THE_DZA
THE_DZA

Oh you silly kids... When a story involves videogame company X in a lawsuit with non-videogame company X, it doesnt hold up that every time the non-video game company is evil, greedy, stupid, hateful, spitefull, jealous, etc. Corporations are not evil because they sue to enforce patent rights. Gibson doesnt "hate" activision. Greed is not a factor when your reason to exist is to make money for your shareholders. Everyone should learn a litle bit about how patents work. This is a purely commercial issue, someone has an IP right that they believe is being used here, and their patent gives them the right to have some share of the profits. Its the reason patents exist.

X_gamer_god_X
X_gamer_god_X

Maybe they wouldn't need to sue Activision, if they lowered the price on their guitars!

Hitman2500
Hitman2500

Activision can not catch a break

mattcake
mattcake

And it only takes one judge to make the obvious ruling that their vague patent squatting, and in this case, encouragement to infringe said patent is a joke and boot it out of court with a big fine for Gibson, and maybe we will see less of this rubbish in future :)

dryden555
dryden555

Gibson figured out that a law suit would get them more $$

hoolesy
hoolesy

And there was me adoring Les Paul Cherry Sunbursts, Gibson stop being cheeky.

Filaki
Filaki

Legal sense...zip. Chance of ridicule...high. Change of losing a cash-cow....infinite.

juju187
juju187

pink floyd money should be the next DLC song

enix165
enix165

I don't get it...they're best pals one second then SHABAM! Gibson sures Activision...ah, oh well. I sorta prefer Fender's guitars anyways, and I always wanted a Fender Mustang controller. And CapoX, I agree...Aerosmith's sorta getting lame now...I'd prefer a Rush or Led Zeppelin one. Or a Rolling Stones one(SA-TIS-FAC-TION!)

exiledsnake
exiledsnake

@sonicdivision, apparently the legal team forgot to consult PR team huh? lets severe good ties with a multi-million dollar franchise for a few bucks! that makes so much business sense! haha.

spartan389
spartan389

Their just jealous that it is selling more than their real guitars.