Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Activision mocks Gibson 'Guitar Hero' lawsuit

Guitar giant thinks it has a patent that covers the controller in video game giant's mega-hit, <i>Guitar Hero</i>. Activision scoffs.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
2 min read

I can almost hear the derisive laughter coming from the executive suite at Activision.

This after the video game giant, the publisher of the monster-hit Guitar Hero III, issued a scathing response to a lawsuit brought against it by its former partner, iconic guitar manufacturer Gibson.

Activision responded harshly Thursday to a patent infringement lawsuit brought against it by guitar maker Gibson. Activision

According to the video game blog, Kotaku, Gibson filed suit against Activision, claiming that it owned a 9-year-old patent for "technology to simulate a musical performance."

In a March 11 filing for declaratory relief (Click for PDF), Activision noted that in a January 7, 2008 letter, Gibson attorneys argued that Guitar Hero infringed on Gibson's patent.

"By continuing to sell any version of the Guitar Hero game software and/or instrument controllers for use with the Guitar Hero game software...Activision is taking advantage of Gibson's patented technology without properly compensating Gibson," the guitar maker's attorneys wrote. "Gibson requests that Activision obtain a license under (the patent) or halt sales of any version of Guitar Hero game software."

But Activision later decided it didn't need a license under Gibson's patent and on March 10 wrote Gibson saying so.

Gibson subsequently sued for patent infringement.

In a press release Thursday, Activision also went public with its assertion that Gibson has nothing on it.

"Gibson's lawsuit is a transparent end run around an impartial court that Activision asked on March 11 to rule on patent assertions that Gibson knows have no merit," Activision wrote in its release. "As Activision noted in its filing, Gibson waited three years to make its patent allegations, and only did so after it became clear that Activision was not interested in renewing its marketing and support agreement with Gibson. Activision continues to believe that Gibson's claims are disingenuous and lack any justification."

To be sure, one would expect language like that from any company in Activision's position. And one would expect a company in Gibson's position to file suit. Because that's how business gets done these days.

But usually, one side or the other in these cases has no real argument, and the courts tend to determine that awfully quickly.

In this case, it is probably too early to tell what the outcome will be.

But as one commenter called VeritasVierge on the Kotaku story put it, "The problem for Gibson is the patent says that the guitar would have strings which the Guitar Hero controllers lack...The idea of recording music and replaying it via a guitar is just to broad an idea to patent."