March 28, 2005

Sony loses suit, but can still sell PS2 -- for now

I don't know how I missed this story this morning!

Sony has been ordered to stop selling Playstation consoles in the United States. Sony lost a suit to Immersion Technologies, who claims to have created the tactile technology that Sony uses to provide the feedback in their Dual-Shock controllers.

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 order has been stayed while Sony appeals, but I'm sure that execs over at Microsoft are dancing in the corridors today.

Posted by mhking at March 28, 2005 09:34 PM

Does that affect making and selling new games for PS2?

Posted by: Gib at March 29, 2005 11:47 AM

I hope not -- my kids about had a conniption fit last night when I told them about this story.

Posted by: mhking at March 29, 2005 11:54 AM
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