Sony loses PlayStation Patent Suit

A small firm that develops and licenses touch-related technologies, has been awarded $US82 million ($116 million) after winning a patent infringement lawsuit against PlayStation maker Sony.

A US federal jury agreed that Sony’s popular videogame consoles as well as its DualShock controllers and 47 games infringed on two Immersion patents. The panel, however, did not find the violations to be wilful – a factor that could have tripled damages.

News source: Autralian IT Immersion applauded the verdict, even though it was awarded far less than the $US299 million it sought in the suit first filed in 2002 against Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. and Sony Computer Entertainment America.

“While the jury’s award is less than the amount we requested, we are pleased the jury found the patents valid and infringed,” Immersion chief executive Victor Viegas said.

Sony said it disagreed with the decision and promised to appeal.

“Patent cases are highly technical and extremely difficult and too often wrongly decided,” the company said in a statement.

San Jose-based Immersion claimed Sony’s PlayStation products infringed on two of its patents related to “vibro-tactile” technologies that simulate the sense of touch in videogame play.

Last year, Immersion settled another patent dispute with Microsoft, the maker of the Xbox video game console. In the settlement, the software giant paid $US26 million, including $US6 million for a roughly 10 per cent stake in the company.

Mr Viegas said Immersion holds 230 patents and has 270 patent applications pending related to software and hardware that use so-called haptic technology. The company also develops touch technology for use in medicine, cars and mobile phones.

But its 2003 sales totalled just $US20.2 million.

The jury’s decision in the Sony case must be officially entered by US District Judge Claudia Wilkens. A Sony appeal would be heard by a federal appellate court in Washington.


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