March 28, 2005 12:14 PM PST

Sony to challenge block on PS2 sales

Sony will continue to sell its PlayStation 2 in the United States while it appeals a court-ordered ban on sales of the market-leading game console, the company said Monday.

Judge Claudia Wilken of the U.S. District Court for Northern California issued the order late last week in a patent infringement case filed against Sony Computer Entertainment by Immersion, a San Jose, Calif.-based developer of "haptics" technology. Among other applications, the technology can generate force feedback in games so that the game controller rattles in response to events during play.

Immersion claims that Sony's implementation of force feedback in its PlayStation 2 and the original PlayStation consoles infringes on its patents. Microsoft paid the California company $26 million two years ago to settle similar claims regarding its PC joysticks and other products.

Sony has fought those charges and suffered a setback late last year, when a jury sided with Immersion and ordered the console maker to pay $82 million in damages. Enforcement of the verdict was delayed, pending the judge's ruling on post-trial motions.

Judge Wilken's latest ruling entered judgment against Sony and ordered it to give Immersion the $82 million laid down by the jury verdict, plus $8.7 million in interest.

In a separate order, Wilken consented to Immersion's request for an injunction barring Sony "from manufacturing, using and/or selling in, or importing into, the United States the infringing Sony PlayStation system." The injunction further instructed Sony to pay licensing fees to Immersion for PlayStation hardware already sold in the United States.

It also covers 47 games that the jury said infringed on Immersion's patents. Most of the games, including the smash hit "Grand Theft Auto" series, aren't published by Sony, possibly complicating enforcement.

The judge agreed to stay enforcement of the injunction, however, citing "the strength of Sony's showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its appeal."

A representative for Sony Computer Entertainment America declined to comment on the case, except to confirm that Sony plans to appeal the ruling and will continue to sell PlayStation products in the meantime.

Immersion CEO Victor Viegas hailed the orders as a validation of the developer's claims. "The court-ordered permanent injunction to stop the shipment and sale of infringing products in the U.S. is an important indicator of the strength of our case and the potential risks involved in this litigation," he said in a statement. "We have always believed, and continue to believe, in the strength of our intellectual property. We remain confident of our position in the appeals process."

Sony's new PlayStation Portable system, which does not employ force feedback, is not included in the suit.

30 comments

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How American firms compete
Now the Japanese firms will see how American firms have found a way to "compete"...On patents.
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
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blah blah whine whine
Hey Neil, how about the Japanese practice of patent flooding?

This post has been edited for content.
[Edited by: admin on Mar 28, 2005 10:45 AM]
Posted by (5 comments )
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PS3
I wonder how this will affect the playstation 3?
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
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Shouldn't this effect Nintendo and Microsoft too?
They also have rumbling features.
Posted by (14 comments )
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This won't hurt Sony...
...they can easily make up the cost through the bloated PSP profits they're poised to receive.
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
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I agree in part and disagree in part.
First, I agree that it's probably not going to hurt Sony. I'm not terribly familiar with the documents in this case, but even if the order is upheld, I don't think it's going to slow them down too much. From what I gather, all they really have to do is continue to pay licensing costs and get official licensing agreements. Not terribly hard.

However, I disagree with your viewpoint on the PSP's price. Perhaps you and I define "bloated" differently, but I personally feel $249.99 is fair market value for a system that can do more than simply play games (whether it does these things well or not is a matter of individual opinion, of course).

Are there shortcomings to the PSP? Of course there are, but for everything it can do, Sony could have inflated the price to $400.00 (which, a few months back, just before the release of the PSP in Japan, most gaming stores were speculating a price point of $400) and still sold them hand-over-fist. Then I would have complained that the price was inflated. $250 just seems fair to me.
Posted by (38 comments )
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The 47 Games
I found a copy of the ruling but I have found no mention of which games Immersion wanted an injunction against. I can't seem to find any filings through FindLaw or the Northern California District Court.

That said, the article eludes to games that are not published by Sony as being included. I do not think games that are not published by Sony should be included in this as they were only developing for what was included with the PS1/PS2 and were not actively attempting to infringe Immersion's patents. Blocking games manufactured or published by Sony I could understand, but not third-party games.
Posted by (38 comments )
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SCO in point
Look at SCO. They are suing people for using Linux. As far as I know most of them didn't modify Linux, but SCO can still sue them. Same goes for people who make games I guess. It doesn't matter that they may not have know about the infringment they still took part in it.

Right or wrong I couldn't tell you, but in my opinion it's cow dookie.
Posted by System Tyrant (1453 comments )
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Here ya go
The games are: "A Bug's Life," "Amplitude," "Ape Escape," "Atlantis: The Lost Empire," "Bloody Roar 2," "Cool Boarders 3," "Cool Boarders 2001," "Crash Bash," "Crash Team Racing," "Drakan," "Emperor's New Groove," "Extermination," "FantaVision," "Final Fantasy X," "Formula One 2001," "The Getaway," "Gran Turismo(s) 1, 2 & 3," "GTA: Vice City," GTA 3," "Grind Session," "Ico," "Jak & Daxter," "Kinetica," "Kingdom Hearts," "Legend of the Dragoon," "The Mark of Kri," "Medal of Honor Frontline," "Medievil 2," "Metal Gear Solid 2," "Monsters Inc.," "Sly Cooper," "SOCOM Navy Seals," "Speed Punks," Spyro," "Stuart Little 2," "Syphon Filter 2 & 3," "THPS 3," "Twisted Metal: Black," "Twisted Metal 4," "Twisted Metal: Small Brawl," "Treasure Planet," "War of the Monsters."


David Becker, CNET News.com
Posted by (1 comment )
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Copyrights...
...Why do companies copyright such features and then never use them? I mean, the "rumble" feature I'm sure is of more use to Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo than Immerson.
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
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Immersion does use them.
They have some desktop software that use the force feedback feature. It's kind of lame, but they do have it.

Oh, and it's a *patent*! You can't copyright an invention!
Posted by (282 comments )
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