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Offbeat Ruling could halt sales of Sony's PlayStation

Jung

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http://www.latimes.com/technology/l...ll=la-headlines-technology&ctrack=1&cset=true
A judge's order to stop selling the units is on hold while the company appeals a patent verdict.

By Jon Healey, Times Staff Writer

A federal court ruling that could force Sony Corp. to pull the plug on its popular PlayStation video game consoles marks the latest in a series of underdog victories in legal disputes over intellectual property.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken on Thursday ordered the Japanese electronics giant not to manufacture, use, sell or import into the United States PlayStations that incorporate so-called force feedback technology developed by San Jose-based Immersion Corp.

Immersion won an $82-million judgment against Sony in September over use of Immersion's patented technology that makes game controllers shake and vibrate to enhance realism.

Although Wilken stayed her order while Sony appeals, the threat of stopping the flow of one of Sony's most lucrative products — PlayStation accounted for 32% of Sony's operating income last quarter — highlights the legal risks in an era of rapid technological change.

"Where innovation goes on at a torrential pace … it puts a real premium on intellectual property" such as patented technology, said attorney Bruce D. Sunstein of Bromberg & Sunstein in Boston. "If you don't have any, you're likely to die. You're definitely forced big-time to innovate."

A spokeswoman for Sony declined to comment on the case.

The defeat was one of several handed to big technology companies in recent weeks.

A jury in Santa Clara County last week ordered consumer-electronics giant Toshiba Corp. to pay Lexar Media Inc. of Fremont, Calif., $465.4 million for stealing and revealing Lexar's trade secrets. And on March 16, a federal appeals court in Virginia set the stage for tiny MercExchange of Great Falls, Va., to win an injunction preventing online auction powerhouse EBay Inc. from infringing MercExchange's patented online-buying technology.

Jason Schultz, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the companies most likely to wage patent battles were large manufacturers and small companies that specialize in selling the rights to use patented technology. An entire industry of patent-holding companies that acquire patents and enforce them is emerging, he said, and wins like the ones recorded by Immersion and MercExchange will only encourage that approach.

The problem, Schultz said, is that companies with such a narrow focus "can poison the ecosystem for innovation in technology."

Immersion Chief Executive Victor Viegas agreed but said Immersion was no mere patent mill. The company, which reported almost $24 million in sales last year, has come to dominate the force feedback market. Its technology is used not only in video games but also in car navigation systems, medical equipment and, soon, cellphones, he said.

Viegas said Immersion licensed its technology in exchange for a portion of the revenue generated by the products involved — typically 5% of the wholesale price. In its lawsuit, it asked for nearly $300 million, or 5% of the more than $5 billion that Sony collected on PlayStation products in the 2 1/2 years leading up to the trial.

After the jury awarded $82 million, or about 1.4% of the PlayStation sales, Wilken ordered Sony to pay Immersion the same percentage of its sales from July 1, 2004, on. Later, she awarded Immersion $8.7 million in interest.

Immersion acquired the two patents at issue in the Sony case through its purchase of Virtual Technologies Inc. in August 2000. Although the patents were not granted until 2001 and 2002, Virtual Technologies had filed for them in 1996 and published them in 1997, before Sony put its disputed technology into the PlayStation consoles, controllers and games.

Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles said Sony was expected to sell 5 million to 7 million PlayStation 2s this year and make $40 to $45 per unit. Given how much PlayStation contributes to the bottom line, he said, Sony is likely to strike a deal with Immersion if it loses its appeal.

"There's no way Sony stops selling PS2s," Pachter said.

Immersion shares rose 55 cents, or 9.6%, to $6.30 on Nasdaq. Sony shares were unchanged at $41.16 on the New York Stock Exchange.
 
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Hm...interesting...but force feedback in car navigation? what?

i'm sure that it won't effect them that much, i didn't even know that sony had force feedback...UNLESS they mean the rumbling from the controller. But even then, all it does is shake the hands. what happened, did some idiot that didn't drink enough milk break his wrist or something?
 
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Holy Fuck!

Jung, why must you bring such news in my direction?


:(
 

Zickddot

Banned - What an Asshat!
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yeah, after that, its down to one form of entertainment....porn


naughtygirl....if it comes to it...would u....help me out?
 

Descent

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Damn, that is abolsutely deplorable.

This could have seriously bad effects for the gaming industry...

Coming from a guy who views Sony as the anti-christ, that says a lot.

EDIT: Jimmy need sleep. I retract my statement.
 

Infidel

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I do not have any of those gaming consoles, I do not play video games, I do not care much for those things, so I don't give a damn, bar the fact this would hurt the entertainment industry and that would leave a deep impact in our economy. As if it didn't suck already...
 

BRiT

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Descent said:
Damn, that is abolsutely deplorable.

This could have seriously bad effects for the gaming industry...

Coming from a guy who views Sony as the anti-christ, that says a lot.
Once again, you're view is tainted, ignorant, and wrong.

This is not deplorable. Thieves deserve to be punished. Inventors deserve to be compensated for their works. This will have no bad effects on the gaming industry.

Immersion Technologies are merely protecting their Intellectual Property and Patents by enforcement. Microsoft and Logitech have licensed their technology since the beginning. As it stands, Nintendo's implementation of the technology is uniquely different and does not infringe on these patents. Immersion Technologies' patents in question are real and legitimate.

Before anyone says the patents must be bogus, consider the following. Sony is one insanely large super-mega-corp with an endless supply of money and great lawyers. They still lost this case. The patents are legit.

Immersion tried to get Sony to license the technology before proceeding with the lawsuit. Sony didn't want to deal. The payment comes down to less than $1.37 per product sold that incorporates the technology at issue.
 

Darklight

Oppressing your posts...
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yeah but with the release of the PSP does it really hurt them that much... I mean the handheld crackheads are prolly slaughtering eachother over it by now... not that i've been to a mall lately to find out..
 
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Infidel said:
I do not have any of those gaming consoles, I do not play video games, I do not care much for those things, so I don't give a damn, bar the fact this would hurt the entertainment industry and that would leave a deep impact in our economy. As if it didn't suck already...
question: not to be mean, but why did you respond if you don't like video games in the first place?

go blow up a propane tank!
 

Infidel

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Darklight said:
yeah but with the release of the PSP does it really hurt them that much... I mean the handheld crackheads are prolly slaughtering eachother over it by now... not that i've been to a mall lately to find out..
Pardon my ignorance (and perhaps my laziness) on this, but is PS = playstation, PS2= Playstation 2, what is a PSP?
 
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PSP = playstation portable

came out last thursday, and lke everyone at my school got one....they were playing each other wirelessly during lunch hehe
 

Infidel

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dull_bullet said:
question: not to be mean, but why did you respond if you don't like video games in the first place?
Because they have managed to become a commonplace part of society it seems, a sudden stop in sales might piss off alot of people, not just the people who use these for entertainment, but many stores and other markets affliated or related to the Playstation who somehow may rely on its sales as part of their revenue, or whatever.

If Sony does stop selling the playstation until they remove the technology or w/e solution they come to, why wouldn't a major products removal not have a bad effect on the gaming industry?

I am just curious about the business issues at hand.
 
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oh ok

it would have a terrible effect on gaming, millions of nerds who can't last a minute without playing a video game would start a rebellion. or something. point is, the government shouldn't eliminate the PS and PS2 and the PSP altogether just cause of force feedback, they should just tell sony NOT to sell force feedback in the US. otherwise it would probably lead to ALL of sonys products being banned(maybe..) and that would have a terrible consequence on entertainment.
 

Infidel

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dull_bullet said:
oh ok

it would have a terrible effect on gaming, millions of nerds who can't last a minute without playing a video game would start a rebellion. or something. point is, the government shouldn't eliminate the PS and PS2 and the PSP altogether just cause of force feedback, they should just tell sony NOT to sell force feedback in the US. otherwise it would probably lead to ALL of sonys products being banned(maybe..) and that would have a terrible consequence on entertainment.
Well, I am sure this may also mean a nerd lifestyle change for the better.

I do not think the "government" is actually itself taking a role in this, but this is case brought to a court, whose ruling is according to law.

I think mabye the ruling itself will just force Sony to modify its consoles?
 

BRiT

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Infidel said:
Well, I am sure this may also mean a nerd lifestyle change for the better.

I do not think the "government" is actually itself taking a role in this, but this is case brought to a court, whose ruling is according to law.

I think mabye the ruling itself will just force Sony to modify its consoles?
All Sony has to do is to remove the dual-shock controllers from their systems. They also need to remove the adaptive feedback-vibration code from the titles in question [very doubtful to happen] or stop selling those titles.

Does anyone even bother to read the articles or do additional research on the subject before posting?
 

Descent

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BRiT said:
Once again, you're view is tainted, ignorant, and wrong.

This is not deplorable. Thieves deserve to be punished. Inventors deserve to be compensated for their works. This will have no bad effects on the gaming industry.

Immersion Technologies are merely protecting their Intellectual Property and Patents by enforcement. Microsoft and Logitech have licensed their technology since the beginning. As it stands, Nintendo's implementation of the technology is uniquely different and does not infringe on these patents. Immersion Technologies' patents in question are real and legitimate.

Before anyone says the patents must be bogus, consider the following. Sony is one insanely large super-mega-corp with an endless supply of money and great lawyers. They still lost this case. The patents are legit.

Immersion tried to get Sony to license the technology before proceeding with the lawsuit. Sony didn't want to deal. The payment comes down to less than $1.37 per product sold that incorporates the technology at issue.
No, I agree with you 100% on that. My problem with Sony is the nasty, cutthroat business tactics they use no one else really practices, such as this.

Another one they are famous for is the overhyping of the Playstation specs. I believe this original spec was something around 100,000 MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second). By comparison, the original Pentium could only handle around 30,000.

As we all know now, MIPS pretty much means "Misinterperetation of Processing Speed." But then, it was the "in" thing to do.

Also, lets not forget the way they manipulated people into not buying Dreamcast. They originally said when the Dreamcast's final specs were announced that the PS2 could easily handle 40 million polygons a second.

By comparison, the Dreamcasts NEC/Videologic PowerVR GPU could process a "scant" 3 million, about 1.5 times that of a Voodoo 2.

However, they announced MUCH later that the PS2 could easily process 13 million polygons at once with features such as hardware T&L, dynamic lighting, and texture filtering enabled.

Yep. The 40 million was just thoeretical wireframe thouroughput.

But by then, the damage had been done. Dreamcast was a flop, and it died a tragic death in December, 2000. It was Sega's CEO's deathbed wish, when he was sick with heart cancer. He wanted Sega to become a third party software publisher.

Also, they tend to build their systems quite cheaply, such as with the PS2's easily contaminated laser, and the Playstation Mark I & II's poor top-loading design, which leads to servo misalignment.

I retract my statement. I just slept deeply for two hours and I feel like I've been touched by the hand of Jesus. Due to my horrible form of ADHD, my brain refuses to shut itself off at night, and keeps ticking. I'm going to see a sleep therapist. 16 years of that crap is enough.


I was stone dead when I posted that. My apologies. I'm worried I'm an incurable insomniac. I got a buddy with the same form, and his sleep life is hell too...
 

Infidel

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BRiT said:
All Sony has to do is to remove the dual-shock controllers from their systems. They also need to remove the adaptive feedback-vibration code from the titles in question [very doubtful to happen] or stop selling those titles.

Does anyone even bother to read the articles or do additional research on the subject before posting?
Yes, but I was only using that question in replying to dull bullet, as he wondered why they just didn't tell them to remove that technology, and that this might lead to all Sony's being banned, which I do not think will happen. It was sort of like using a question to answer one.

I already figured Sony would most likely just remove those components.
 
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it's all clarified in my head now...no more stupid questions or comments lol :thumbsup:

i kind of figured that it was the dual shock controllers. but the dual shock controllers aren't really dangerous. if the courts didn't like the whole feedback thing, why don't they talk to nintendo and microsoft also?
 

BRiT

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This is a case about patent infringement. Patents protect a specific implementation or means of doing something.

Dull_bullet, I already covered the Microsoft/Nintendo aspect in my earlier post. I suggest you read the entire thread before commenting. I'll cover it again for those too lazy to read.

I'll try to simplify this further.

I create a technology called "MegaTech". I have a patent on this technology. That means no one else can use this technology without a license from me. A company "Sony" steals my technology and used it in their products. I approach Sony informing them that I own all rights and use of the technology. I tell them if they want to continue selling their products using my technology they need to license it from me.

They refuse to pay me for the use of my technology. My only recurse is to take them to court over patent violation. If I do not take them to court, then everyone else is free to use my technology without compensating me for it. The courts bear witness to all the evidence and make a legal ruling. The courts rule that Sony needs to compensate me for my technology. To add salt into the wound, since Sony played hard-ball before I ask the courts to prevent them from shipping the products which illegally used my technology.

At the same time, Microsoft has already licensed my technology. Logitech also already licensed my technology. They pay me for the use of my creation.

At the same time, Nintendo spent the time and research and development to accomplish the same means of my "MegaTech" technology by using a completely different implementation.

The courts never go after someone. They only hear the differences involved between two or more parties. In this case, I can not go after someone who has not broken any laws (MS/Nintendo/Logitech).