September 22, 2004 10:29 AM PDT

Jury slaps Sony with $82 million verdict

Immersion, a maker of force-feedback joysticks, said Wednesday that a jury on Tuesday found that Sony's PlayStation unit infringed on its patents and awarded the company $82 million.

The jury found that Sony Computer Entertainment infringed on two Immersion patents. However, the San Jose, Calif., company cautioned that the judge has not yet entered a verdict in the case and said it expects post-trial motions from Sony. The case was heard in U.S. District Court for the Northern District Court of California.

Immersion said it will ask the court to issue a permanent injunction to bar future infringement.

In a statement, Sony said it would appeal the verdict.

"While we appreciate the hard work of the court and the jury, we are, of course, disappointed and disagree with the outcome," Sony said. "Patent cases are highly technical and extremely difficult and too often wrongly decided."

Sony is not the first company to find itself in Immersion's legal crosshairs. Microsoft last year paid $26 million to settle a patent infringement claim filed by Immersion.

Immersion is a specialist in what is known as haptic technology, which uses the sense of touch to expand interactions between humans and computers. Among the uses for the technology are joysticks that shudder to simulate motion within a game.

Immersion sued Microsoft and Sony in 2002 and has also licensed its technology to companies including Logitech and Kensington.

Shares of Immersion rose on Wednesday, following news of the verdict. The company's stock changed hands at $6.29, up 47 cents or 8 percent.

6 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Yet another..
Yet another company making a living off the courts and patents that shouldnt have been granted in the first place.

Controllers that shake and vibrate.. woo.. took a lot of brain power to figure THAT one out, right?

C'mon thats even more obvious than clicking twice to perform a different function than when you click once.
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
Reply Link Flag
But patents are critical
Patents are critical to ensure that a company can market an idea and how they impliment it in the marketplace. Without the right to patent most inovation would stop as we know it today.

The big problem with a patent case and a jury is that most consumers and jurers do not understand how patents work. They further do not understand the technology that has a patent applied. There are many ways to provide "force feedback" to a user via a shaking joystick.

If Sony does not impliment the method that is covered by the patent, then there is no patent infringement. If however, Immersion has covered the Sony method in their patent, then they are entitled to losses. I doubt that an award over 80 million is deserved and in such a case where the technology has been distributed to millions of customers a license should be forced by the courts.

It seems from Immersions statements that they intend not to license the patent to Sony. This would seem like a way to extort more money from other companies in pre-litigation negotiations. ie: Pay our license fee, or pay for it anyway and lose your right to produce the product.

Unfortunately not all forms of extortion are illegal, and that's the biggest downfall to patents. IMHO patents shuold be changed to require a marketing and licensing mechanism.

Intel owns a lot of patents on chip technology that would have made for great processors. They filed them away and nobody was able to build on the technology. They did this of course to keep their products dominant in the marketplace, but it is an example of bad use of patents.

Patents should be used to protect their owner when selling a product based on the patent. Hopefully our lawmakers in the US can change the patent law to reflect this in the next decade or two.
Posted by zaz.net (46 comments )
Link Flag
Yet another..
Yet another company making a living off the courts and patents that shouldnt have been granted in the first place.

Controllers that shake and vibrate.. woo.. took a lot of brain power to figure THAT one out, right?

C'mon thats even more obvious than clicking twice to perform a different function than when you click once.
Posted by Fray9 (547 comments )
Reply Link Flag
But patents are critical
Patents are critical to ensure that a company can market an idea and how they impliment it in the marketplace. Without the right to patent most inovation would stop as we know it today.

The big problem with a patent case and a jury is that most consumers and jurers do not understand how patents work. They further do not understand the technology that has a patent applied. There are many ways to provide "force feedback" to a user via a shaking joystick.

If Sony does not impliment the method that is covered by the patent, then there is no patent infringement. If however, Immersion has covered the Sony method in their patent, then they are entitled to losses. I doubt that an award over 80 million is deserved and in such a case where the technology has been distributed to millions of customers a license should be forced by the courts.

It seems from Immersions statements that they intend not to license the patent to Sony. This would seem like a way to extort more money from other companies in pre-litigation negotiations. ie: Pay our license fee, or pay for it anyway and lose your right to produce the product.

Unfortunately not all forms of extortion are illegal, and that's the biggest downfall to patents. IMHO patents shuold be changed to require a marketing and licensing mechanism.

Intel owns a lot of patents on chip technology that would have made for great processors. They filed them away and nobody was able to build on the technology. They did this of course to keep their products dominant in the marketplace, but it is an example of bad use of patents.

Patents should be used to protect their owner when selling a product based on the patent. Hopefully our lawmakers in the US can change the patent law to reflect this in the next decade or two.
Posted by zaz.net (46 comments )
Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.