Konami sues Viacom over Rock Band

[UPDATE] Japanese publisher claims Harmonix-developed multi-instrument hit violated its "musical rhythm-matching game" patents, reports Bloomberg; MTV responds.

Nearly a decade ago, Konami released the first installments in the DrumMania and Guitar Freaks series, which used drum and guitar peripherals. Though neither franchise was a huge hit, the Japanese publisher did sell millions of its dozen-plus Karaoke Revolution games worldwide.

Given Konami's primogeniture in the instrument and karaoke genres, the publisher was likely none too happy when developer Harmonix combined drums, guitars, and singing into one game--Rock Band. Since its release last November, the MTV Games-published, Electronic Arts-distributed title has sold more than 3 million $179 bundles and more than 10 million song downloads. MTV's parent, Viacom, went as far as to name-check the game in its annual earnings report in May, crediting it with increased profits.

Now, it appears Konami is expressing its displeasure in legal form. According to a report on the Bloomberg news service, this week the Japanese publisher filed suit in a Marshall, Texas, court against Harmonix, MTV Networks, and Viacom. Its suit claims that Rock Band violates a series of US Patents registered in 2002 and 2003 relating to "simulated musical instruments" and "musical rhythm-matching game."

Bloomberg's report did not outline what Konami wanted in terms of compensation from the suit. However, the legal action's timing comes shortly after the announcement of Rock Band 2 and Rock Band: Japan as well as the release of Rock Band: Special Edition for the Wii. It also comes less than two months after Konami announced its own peripheral-based, guitar-drum-vocal title, Rock Revolution, due out later this year.

[UPDATE] Unsurprisingly, MTV Games and Harmonix will not be taking the suit lying down. "Konami's actions are extremely surprising," an MTV representative told the company's Multiplayer gaming blog. "Unfortunately, successful products such as Rock Band can often become targets for baseless litigation. We have substantial defenses to this claim and intend to vigorously defend it."

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Discussion

313 comments
joshboy101
joshboy101

@dthlord Your right. I wrote that comment 2 years ago when DDR, and yu-gi-oh defined konami for me.

dthlord
dthlord

@joshboy101 "THEY ARE A SMALL COMPANY" I'm surprised I mustered the constitution to reply to you, after laughing so hard. Small, eh? Ever heard of a little game called Frogger? What about Castlevania? Maybe Contra? Or Metal Gear/Metal Gear Solid? Silent Hill? Dance Dance Revolution and it's 38 remixes (exaggeration). Heck, they pretty much created the music genre, not to mention defined it. Last year alone they developed 83 games. Different games, not counting individual for separate platforms. (meaning, despite Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 being developed for PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii, and PC, I'm only counting it as 1, not 6.) But I digress, by no sensible definition can Konami be defined as small.

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

@ASG Because according to pdilly3, Activision had an agreement with Konami to ensure Guitar Hero dosen't share Rock Band's fate.

ASG_
ASG_

Why don't they sue Activision too? -_-

Eric_Drav3n
Eric_Drav3n

If this is true then Konami really dissapoint me, I always thought they were a great company but this just sucks, go make new games instead of waste time on this

alifoxey2
alifoxey2

Konami is a great company you guys don't know what you are talking about. What you guys are basically saying is, for example, if you just copy and paste a report from the internet and then change some of the words and then claim it as your own. Furthermore blacksparrow15 what do you mean by crap? The game guitar freaks was a great game and even today Konami still makes great games (MGS,PES,DDR, Zone of the Enders, Silent Hill, Castlevania, etc.) Unless you are an ignorant gamer then you these aren't "crap."

blacksparrow15
blacksparrow15

We gamers are the one who should sue Konami for putting this kind of crap in our respected stores, Gamestop, and Wal-Mart and Best Buy and such.

gnutux
gnutux

now if Konami just make even DDR better, then it can sue all it wants to. I wouldn't care.

joshboy101
joshboy101

I'm begining to really hate Konami! THEY ARE A SMALL COMPANY THAT LIKES TO SUE PEOPLE BECAUSE ITS THE ONLY WAY THEY CAN GET MONEY! They have already sued activation's in the groove which was a lot better than ddr and now there sueing ROCKBAND! WHAT THE HECK!

joshboy101
joshboy101

I'm begining to really hate Konami! THEY ARE A SMALL COMPANY THAT LIKES TO SUE PEOPLE BECAUSE ITS THE ONLY WAY THEY CAN GET MONEY! They have already sued activation's in the groove which was a lot better than ddr and now there sueing ROCKBAND! WHAT THE HECK!

Valo_Skater
Valo_Skater

notice how people start suing once the franchise go's big.

pokerguy94
pokerguy94

That's a great philosophy, if someone else can make a better game than you can sue them! God I hate this planet.

bestbuy319
bestbuy319

what else are the Japanese going to do god knows they cant make good games any more so they will just sue good developers.

DarthEthong467
DarthEthong467

Face it Konami, you suck! If you couldn't get it right than stop whining! Sore-losers...

Fooglewasp
Fooglewasp

Rock Band, Viacom, EA, Harmonix>Konami

Dreamerdude26
Dreamerdude26

I think that Konami is just mad because most of their games didn't sell very well but someone else created something that has similar but not identical instruments that has sold extremely well. Why didn't they bring this suit into play while the game was being developed? Obviously they just wont some more green.

BIFFAR
BIFFAR

Im with konami on this one. They have every right to defend what they created with all these imitation guitar/band games.

BRINCA
BRINCA

For all the people who keep saying why now or anything else like that do you think most gaming companies care about us no they just want our money or any money at all so stop blaming konami for anything they just want money like all gaming companies.

pdilly3
pdilly3

For those unaware: From Dictionary.com - PATENT: the exclusive right granted by a government to an inventor to manufacture, use, or sell an invention for a certain number of years. Wikipedia - "A patent provides the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing the patented invention for the term of the patent, which is usually 20 years from the filing date." Konami A. Has (and had) no obligation to file this quickly. They did so when they were ready. B. Have every right to protect such inventions that they were granted rights to by the US government. Activision was smart enough to get an agreement in place with Konami; as such there should be some validity to their patent ownership, else Activision would have ignored it as well. let the flames begin...

BrushedMetal
BrushedMetal

I dont think GuitarFreaks was the greatest name in the world for a rhythum game. Guitar Hero and Rock Band just has a better presentation and songs. And the develepers for GH and RB also have inspiration and perserverance to make these great games. I dont know if this makes sense to everybody but its just my opinions

Harvestbuddy
Harvestbuddy

guitar freaks and drummania are huge hits at the arcade!!

ddr_hero
ddr_hero

Konami has been sueing copycat games for quite some time now, but only if they're better. ITG and PIU anyone? I sort of hope this hurts konami to the point where they stop trying to pick on the little guy now that they're taking on someone their own size.

son012189
son012189

Thank god, someone is sueing Viacom.

TXMostWanted
TXMostWanted

I was wondering when this would happen, having seen these sorts of games in Tokyo arcades for the longest time...I honestly didn't think America would want to play these games, but that's Japan for ya

mattk442001
mattk442001

I know how some people are saying "Good for Konami! They should win against Viacom!". I would've agreed with that if the lawsuit was filed a year ago. They waited until Rock Band was a success before taking action. It looks like Konami is going to try to knock Rock Band 2 out of the way so their new game will become successful. Although I do agree with the purpose of the lawsuit, I don't agree with the lawsuit. I think Konami is just going after greatly-needed money.

score89
score89

Imagine that Nintendo sues everyone because today controllers' design came from their ideas like the L R buttons on SNES controller or the small joystick of the N64 . what i am trying to say is that the idea was almost forgotten and practically without use in america. And if you are going to sue anyone because he is using you patent idea you do it immediately ,waiting for a profit for you to "steal-take-sue" it is just greed

Konfusion
Konfusion

Maybe it's just me, but hitting a guitar with my fingers and jumping like a monkey over a dance pad are two very different things. Maybe Konami's mad cuz the other guy's idea is more fun... but just too bad.

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

@AlexandLandon I said to forget that thread ever happened a while back. Why didn't you listen? Now you made me feel as bad as Bret when he left Jemaine behind with the two man gang while he was running back home for safety in the third episode of Flight of the Conchords. And everyone hated him for that except two of his other friends, which is Murray and Dave. Back on topic, I wasn't taking anyone's side between the two companies. All I said was there's no fluppin point in these fluppin lawsuits, since "gaming clones" are very common. That's why I think these lawsuits are pointless as heck.

jaSteRdcX
jaSteRdcX

i'm for konami on this one. its not fair.

CloudlessSky
CloudlessSky

I was wondering if Konami was ever going to step up. I'm glad they did.

ThreeVo
ThreeVo

AlexandLandon - i agree completely. Dogswithguns said "Too bad that GuitarFreaks didnt get a hit. GH and Rockband did....." wether Guitar Freaks was succesfull outside of japan or not doesnt justify anything.. if thats what u were aiming at. If not, then my apologies

AlexandLandon
AlexandLandon

@Nintendoboy16 I love how you fail to realize the numerous amounts of rude comments aimed at Konami for wanting to protect their inventions from being stolen for use by another company. I also love how you're the same person that accused Battle of the Bands, a game with totally different gameplay that uses the wii-mote for pete's sake, of being a rip off of Guitar Hero, yet you'll defend a game that copied Guitar Freaks and DrumMania's gameplay almost exactly. Talk about irony.

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

@AlexandLandon "I hope Rock Band dies. You people deserve it." Be careful what you say. That was actually very rude on how you said that. Sometimes, depending on how it's taken, you can hurt someone's feelings. The reason why I think this lawsuit is pointless as the Nintendo "infringing" on other gaming ideas cases they had a while back with Anascape. Is because there are other things like a controller. This even includes music Guitar Playing games like Guitar Hero, Guitar Freaks, or even Rock Band. Something tells me a lot of people knew this for a while.

goldeneye_basic
goldeneye_basic

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

Dogswithguns
Dogswithguns

Too bad that GuitarFreaks didnt get a hit. GH and Rockband did.....

Warlock89
Warlock89

Wasn't Viacom the one that sued YouTube for copyright infrindgement? Now this is just hilarious. Harmonix did still or were HUGELY inspired by Konami's games. I doubt many people have seen them. They are just like Guitar Hero and Rockband.

The_Great_Woggy
The_Great_Woggy

I hope konami wins something from this lawsuit it might stop the big money hungry companies stealing others ideas, if not it shows who's buying the judge with the money. Plus I don't know who some of these people commenting are trying to be but yeah being racist and retarded isn't cool.

Goku40210
Goku40210

Viacom will not be scratched by this lawsuit in fact they could make the money in a day probably this is a suit of face and sadly Konami is only equipped with a nose

intotheshadowz
intotheshadowz

Viacom getting sued over infringement? Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Elvis4576
Elvis4576

Silly japanesse this is rock not hardcore techno

ThreeVo
ThreeVo

1upMushroomX6 said "konami is just a arogant japanesse company... they will lose the lawsuit" This is ubsurd.... everyone needs top educate themselves with the industry and Konamis' past develpomenst.... im left to aonly assume the people here bashing konami are the ones that live in backwater smallvilles'.. with no experience of a highly entertaining arcade scene.. the fact of the matter is simple.... activision new this.. and properley payed for konamis patents... what they knew is this.... KONAMI is the pioneer of rythm based games, simple. no one esle has done it as good as them or prior to them with success... Guitar freaks, DDR, beatmania (wich is a trance/techo rythm game) and also many iterations of drum games. get ur facts straight b4 bashing a solid gaming company that founded this genre in a scene that is praised in japan, and not so much in the states.. it was only a mater of time

1upMushroomX6
1upMushroomX6

konami is just a arogant japanesse company... they will lose the lawsuit

Falco_648
Falco_648

Did Konami think anyone was actually gonna buy this anyway?

snoopy248
snoopy248

I agree completely with AlexandLandon! Well said!

AlexandLandon
AlexandLandon

@Whirlbat You have no idea what you're talking about. Konami's Guitar Freaks and DrumMania games are huge in Japan, popular enough to still spawn sequels since both games debuted almost 10 years ago. Here we bash Konami for taking legal action against another company that infringed their patents because we loooove Rock Band. Face it, that's exactly what's going on here. Activision was smart by paying to use Konami's patents. Maybe just maybe Konami was giving Harmonix enough time to eventually do the same? However, since they did not, they had to sue. I wouldn't want someone else making money off of my own inventions without getting something out of it, would you?

silentchuck
silentchuck

up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, b,a, SUE