Sony Told Vibration Not For Free

Sony Told Vibration Not For Free

Sony was ordered by a U.S. federal court to immediately stop U.S. sales of its PlayStation game consoles and pay USD 90.7 million to Immersion for patent infringement over controllers used with PlayStation game consoles. The federal court's order states that Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Entertainment America Inc. have to stop selling the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 game consoles using Dualshock controllers as well as more than 40 game software products, although the judge immediately put her ruling on hold.

The stay in the case means Sony will keep moving its Playstation consoles in the United States, until the, lengthy, appeal process is completed.

Immersion initially started the lawsuit against both Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo has acquired a license, but the U.S. console manufacturer settled out of court for a USD 26 million payment (the cost of the acquisition of a license) and other settlements which, in fact, brought part ownership of Immersion to MS.

Financial analysts said there was little practical impact to the order. The same experts claim that the worst that could happen for the Japanese giant is that it will lose the appeals and be forced into a license agreement with Immersion.

The meat of the case has to do with patents held by Immersion Corp. on vibration technology. The PS2's Dualshock controllers vibrate during gameplay. The protection offered by the U.S. patenting system helped Immersion win this round although arguments regarding the use of the technology will continue for a long while. Since the patent describes the use of ...spinning eccentric weights to create vibration, some arguments against Immersion suggest that the California-based company has patented a law of nature. The, similar, idea that a centrifuge with an offset weight can be used to apply force to an object has been in use for decades in many fields of science, although in such cases the designers have to compensate by adding weight to the opposite site of the boom that carries the payload to avoid such rumbling forces.

Immersion shares were up nearly 15 per cent following the ruling, though Sony shares remained unchanged. A Sony spokeswoman in the U.S. said the appeal was in progress but declined to say when it would be filed. However, a Sony spokeswoman in Tokyo said the company would be paying compulsory license fees to Immersion while the appeal progressed through the courts.

Games are an important part of Sony's overall income accounting for 44 per cent of Sony's operating profit from October to December, as its electronics division continues to struggle.