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March 25, 2008

Get Your Game On – 03.25.08

Posted: 04:12 PM ET

"Guitar Hero" hits a sour note with Gibson

The Gibson Guitar Corp. has filed a series of lawsuits aimed at pulling the plug on the wildly popular "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" video game franchises.

According to court papers filed in federal district court in Nashville, TN, Gibson has set their sights on several retailers, including Wal-Mart, claiming that by selling "Guitar Hero," the stores have violated a virtual reality patent the guitar maker holds.

Gibson is also claiming the same patent has been violated by Harmonix, MTV Networks and Electronic Arts in their development of "Rock Band." Harmonix also created some of the original "Guitar Hero" games for Activision, Inc. before being sold to MTV.

According to court papers, Gibson's patent describes a device that lets a user "simulate participation in a concert by playing a musical instrument."

Both "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" allows players to perform songs using a string-less, plastic guitar that plugs into a game console.

What's interesting is that Activision, Inc. which produces the "Guitar Hero" franchise, has not been sued directly. In fact, Activision recently filed a law-suit of their own back in January claiming it is not violating Gibson's patent.

To make matters even more confusing, at least two official licensed controllers for "Guitar Hero" are modeled after popular Gibson guitar models: The SG (made popular by such artists as Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and AC/DC's Angus Young) and the Les Paul (which is featured on the cover of the current edition of "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock")

Meanwhile, the band plays on...

Watch more here

And as the lawyers play their games in court, here are couple of this week's notable new releases...

Dark Sector (D3 Publisher)

From the co-producer of the original "Unreal" franchise comes "Dark Sector." This eagerly anticipated action thriller puts players in control of an incredible array of super-powers that you'll have to master in order to survive a Black-Ops mission gone wrong. "Dark Sector's" developers are excited about the game's proprietary engine that drives the games fast-paced play and stunning graphics. Having seen it on both the PS3 and Xbox 360, it's worth the hype. (Rated M for Mature; 360, PS3)

Command and Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath (EA)

Not so much a self-contained game and more of an expansion pack for the immensely popular "Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars" game for the PC, fans of the series will be excited to discover more than 13 different missions steeped in the C&C universe. Some variations on the game-play formulas will also keep older engaged by switching things up in this deep real-time strategy platform. More importantly, it offers hard-core players a glimpse at what's to come later this summer when "Kane's Wrath" makes its Xbox 360 debut. (Rated T for Teen; PC)

- Matt West, CNN Entertainment Producer

Filed under: video games

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Tachyons   March 26th, 2008 3:39 pm ET

Guess I'll stop air-guitaring for fear of getting sued for playing a "simulated musical instrument". OOPPS, did I just incriminate myself??

Robert Showers   March 26th, 2008 10:31 pm ET

I think I've been following things pretty close for years, and I can't figure why they don't want the next best thing to gravity drive. I'm witnessing the meld of turbo and rocket designes in engine technology, the not so far future I may add. our defence and transortation tech is in the crux of a new era. but the production is closed I know we've taken a blow and am sorry but I still need to work,. robert

Mark E   March 27th, 2008 3:40 am ET

That seems really backwards. Guitar manufactures have to have noticed a bump in sales generated by Guitar Hero and Rock Band. It shouldn't be hard for them to really tap the floodgates that those titles have opened up by making their own more realistic offerings to the genre.

Some of the technology in Rock Band makes it pretty clear that a relatively easy to play game could be made using a 'real' Gibson guitar as the controller. If they were to go THAT route they could scoop up tens of thousands of gamers with a fairly easy but exciting game, and litterally use the game to teach the gamers to play and buy real guitars.

Think about it, a $100 plywood guitar that comes with a pretty fun game. Thanks to Guitar Hero/Rock Band, that would sell. Nobody is going to be happy with just one guitar/controller, so they'll need more for their friends. Then they're going to want to show off by getting a better guitar/controller than their friends. They could make countless legions of devoted gamers into loyal guitar playing customers.

Gibson made it big by jumping on the electric guitar concept decades ago, now an even bigger revolution is at their doorstep and they're chasing it away with a stick!

Mike   March 27th, 2008 8:38 am ET

I want everyone to know that I hold all the patents for virtual sex. If I so much as catch any of you, Big Trouble!!

Gibson is lame!

maude   March 27th, 2008 8:57 am ET

Whatever. I own Guitar Hero and Rock Band and they can pry them from my cold dead hands. Suck it, Gibson!

Chris Harris   March 27th, 2008 11:44 am ET

"Gibson has set their sites on several retailers,"

Should be "set their sights...."

Jonathan   March 27th, 2008 12:31 pm ET

I agree with Mark... I think everyone's just a little to flighty about protecting their rights. The way I look at it, it's free advertising to them and if people really enjoy it, they'll get their own guitar.

Companies should be glad that they are imitated and not try and to stamp out something because they didn't come up with it themselves.

Ian the Human Bein'   March 27th, 2008 12:55 pm ET

The blog is pretty vague, concerning the plantiff's reasons for taking the software companies to court.

Sounds like Gibson overlooked some fine print, ... or approved the rights to the model and then changed there mind.

The Guitar Hero franchise spent a pretty penny getting the rights to all those songs, and I'm sure that they wouldn't have overlooked the Gibson label, without running it by them first.

Something doesn't add up here... and I doubt this will hold up in a court of law.

Frank   March 27th, 2008 12:56 pm ET

You forgot to mention this from the claims by gibson.
"Gibson's patent calls for a "head-mounted 3D display that includes stereo speakers" by which musicians can simulate a concert using an instrument. As per the patent, the prerecorded concert would play while musicians accompany the concert on their own instruments.

It all boils down to spilt milk, Gibson is upset because Activision did not renew the contract on the guitars and they are sueing to get their share of the preverbial pie.

John G   March 27th, 2008 4:04 pm ET

Damn Gibson just loves to sue anyone. They got there money and there still crying. They should leave rockband alone thats Fender terrotory!!!

Jalas   March 27th, 2008 6:21 pm ET

"...Gibson is upset because Activision did not renew the contract on the guitars and they are sueing to get their share of the *preverbial* pie."

It's spelled "proverbial"...

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