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Microsoft, Sony sued over vibrating game controllers

By Stephen Lawson

(IDG) -- Immersion, which develops technology used in making video game controllers vibrate, has caused a legal rumble by suing Microsoft Corp. and two Sony Corp. subsidiaries for alleged infringement of its intellectual property rights, the company said in a statement Monday.

Immersion said it sued Microsoft, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. and Sony Computer Entertainment of America Inc. over their alleged use of Immersion's so-called "haptic" technology in Microsoft's XBox and Sony's PlayStation and PlayStation 2, as well as associated games and devices. INFOCENTER
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Haptic technology lets users receive touch feedback from electronic devices including computer screens and mice as well as gaming hardware, according to Immersion. The complaint was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. It alleges infringement of two U.S. patents, one issued in 1999 and one in 2001, said Patrick Reutens, vice president of strategic relationships and legal affairs at Immersion.

Sony Computer Entertainment of America has not seen the complaint and declined to comment on it, but did assert that it does not infringe on Immersion's technology or patents, said Sony spokeswoman Monica Wik, in Foster City, California. A Microsoft Corp. spokesman declined to comment on the issue before seeing the complaint, and Sony Computer Entertainment in Tokyo could not immediately be reached for comment.

Immersion and its subsidiaries have more than 150 patents issued and 200 pending worldwide, according to the statement. The technology has been licensed to partners in the game console market as well as to PC peripherals makers Logitech Inc. and Kensington Technology Group and others, Immersion said.

Immersion licenses the technology, which carries the brand name TouchSense, to makers of some peripherals for the Xbox and PlayStation. However, it has not licensed TouchSense technology to Microsoft or Sony for use with their consoles or controllers, Reutens said.

The company will seek a sum of damages based partly on information it expects to obtain through the legal discovery process, Reutens said. It would not rule out a settlement.

"If a business relationship could be created that made sense to us, we would be more than willing to consider it," Reutens said.


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