TAC countersues over Guitar Hero controllers

Peripheral manufacturer claims that RedOctane actually swiped its design from another company's Guitar Freaks controller.


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Last month, Activision and RedOctane, publishers of the popular PlayStation 2 game Guitar Hero, filed suit against peripheral manufacturer The Ant Commandos (TAC) over its unlicensed guitar controllers. Rock-and-roll is nothing if not belligerent, so it seems fitting that TAC is firing back.

Guitar Hero controller (l) and TAC Freedom V Wireless controller (r)
Guitar Hero controller (l) and TAC Freedom V Wireless controller (r)

TAC today announced that it has filed a countersuit against RedOctane and Activision, alleging that they have violated federal antitrust legislation.

Much of the RedOctane/Activision complaint centers around the packaging and advertising similarities between the official Guitar Hero game and controllers, and TAC's own "Guitar Mania" line of peripherals. In TAC's countersuit, the company claims that it was RedOctane and Activision who mimicked its own offerings. Specifically, it refers to the Magical Guitar peripheral that TAC part-owner Topway Electrical Appliance made for Konami's Guitar Freaks series of games in 1999.

A TAC representative told GameSpot that the CEO and sales manager of RedOctane visited Topway's Chinese factory twice, once in 2001 and again in 2004, asking questions about the design of the Magical Guitar controller. The representative also said that RedOctane purchased several hundred of the guitar controllers from Topway between 2002 and 2004, when RedOctane was known primarily as a seller of unlicensed peripherals for rhythm games like Konami's Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Freaks.

Topway's original Magical Guitar.
Topway's original Magical Guitar.

TAC is asking a judge to prevent Activision and RedOctane from selling its Guitar Hero game bundled with a controller. The company wants the game sold exclusively on its own, so that consumers can then decide which controller they would like to use. Despite the legal wrangling, TAC has said it will continue to design, make, and sell its Guitar Mania line.

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