Gibson Guitar has sued five large retailers, software developer, Harmonix and publisher, Electronic Arts in two separate lawsuits relating to popular guitar simulation games and their alleged infringement of Gibson’s 1999 patent for technology to simulate a musical performance.
This follows the guitar manufacturer’s out-of-court attempt to stop Guitar Hero owner, Activision from selling all versions of the game. Activision responded by filing a lawsuit, requesting the US District Court for Central California to declare Gibson's patent invalid and to forbid it from seeking damages.
The 1999 Gibson patent is for a product that allows the user to simulate participation in a concert by playing an instrument and wearing a headset with 3-D display and audio speakers.
Gibson has been a high-profile partner in the Guitar Hero franchise, which has sold more than 14 million units in North America and grossed over a billion dollars since its debut in 2005. Activision has licensed the rights to model its controllers on Gibson guitars and depict them in the game.
Activision has said that by waiting three years to raise its claim, Gibson had granted an implied license for any technology.