Gibson Guitar has alleged that Activision's Guitar Hero videogames infringe one of the company's patents, causing Activision to file a lawsuit asking a court to find the claim invalid.
According to a Reuters report, Gibson made the claim in a letter sent to Activision in January. It has a 1999 patent for technology to simulate a musical performance.
"Based on our preliminary analysis, the Guitar Hero software (including any expansion packs) and the guitar controller provided by Activision being used as a musical instrument (packaged with the software or sold standalone) are covered by the ... patent," the letter read in part.
"Gibson requests that Activision obtain a license under Gibson's ... patent or halt sales of any version of the Guitar Hero game software."
Activision is already involved in a dispute with Harmonix over alleged royalties due over Guitar Hero III.
Gibson has been a high-profile partner in the Guitar Hero videogames, as Activision has licensed the rights to model its controllers on Gibson guitars - not to mention using the likenesses of such guitars in the game.
"Gibson is a good partner, and we have a great deal of respect for them," said Activision general counsel George Rose.
"We disagree with the applicability of their patent and would like a legal determination on this."
Activision has therefore filed a suit asking the US District Court for Central California to declare Gibson's patent invalid and to bar it from seeking damages. The company alleges that Gibson had granted an "implied license" by waiting three years to raise its claim.
The Guitar Hero franchise has sold more than 14 million units in North America and raked in more than USD 1 billion since its debut in 2005.
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