3.13.2008

Gibson Guitar Corp. dumb; trying to steal profits

This is just stupid. Gibson Guitar Corp. is suing Activision, the makers of the "Guitar Hero" series of games for patent infringement. Not because the totally-realistic plastic guitars violate some design policy of the axe-maker, but because the games themselves are allegedly a violation of a 1999 patent held by Gibson.


Due to my extremely high level of loserness, I dug up the patent via Google (patent #5,990,405 if you're interested) to see how similar it is to "Guitar Hero", given the 8 year difference in technology (as the original patent is dated 23 November, 1999). Yeah ... it's really not even remotely the same. The Gibson patent allows a musician to play a musical instrument wearing a head-mounted 3D display. Portions (audio/video) of the concert are pre-recorded, and then a "sound track corresponding to the musical instrument played by the musician" is dubbed in. You can also "suppress the instrument sound track so that the sounds created by the actual playing of the musical instrument are heard along with the pre-recorded audio & video portions".


The bold was all added by me, to stress how different this patent is from "Guitar Hero". Even if you've never played the game, I'm sure you're well aware that there is no real musical instrument involved. You press colored buttons on a plastic guitar. It's not notes, it's not music, it's not a concert: it's how well you can time the colors. It's like a high-end Tetris game. If you took away the "instrument sound track" from "Guitar Hero", all you'd hear would be "click-click-click", not "sounds created by <a> ... musical instrument".


Clearly, Gibson Guitar Corp. is just trying to make a few extra dollars from the astounding success of Activision. They just want the video game manufacturer to obtain a license to use the patent (which I'm sure they'll charge dearly for). Companies like Gibson should stick to what they know best: making guitars. Leave the game development to the pros.


Source: LA Times | Business






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