Guitar manufacturer Gibson is suing Wal-Mart and five other big-box retailers for selling Guitar Hero, claiming that Activision’s game violates a patent Gibson filed in 1999 for a virtual reality music game.
The lawsuit, which was also filed against Amazon, GameStop, Kmart, Target and Toys ‘R Us, asks for the federal court system to order all six retailers to stop selling Guitar Hero until Gibson can come to a resolution with Activision.
To Activision’s credit, the game publisher has already filed a suit in California requesting that the Guitar Hero series not be found in violation of Gibson’s 1999 patent.
According to the Associated Press, Activision claims that Gibson’s patent assertions have no merit, while Gibson wants Activision to stop selling all Guitar Hero games until the publisher gets a license under the patent.
In a prepared statement, Activision said “Our Guitar Hero retailing partners have done nothing wrong. We will confront this and any other efforts by Gibson to wrongfully interfere with Activision’s relationship with its customers and its consumers.”
The Associated Press says Gibson attorneys contacted Activision in January accusing the company of violating a patent titled “System and Method for Generating and Controlling a Simulated Musical Concert Experience.” A copy of the patent is included in Gibson’s lawsuit and dated Nov. 23, 1999. The patent describes a device that lets users “simulate participation in a concert by playing a musical instrument and wearing a head-mounted 3-D display that includes stereo speakers.”
In addition, Gibson’s device includes playback of audio and video of a prerecorded concert and a separate track of audio from the user’s instrument.
Whether Gibson will sue MTV and EA, which released Rock Band late last year, remains to be seen. As of press time, no such action had been made public.