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Court rules against Sony in Immersion case

Dual Shock drops Sony in hot water over tactile feedback patents.

A federal jury in the USA has found in favour of technology firm Immersion Corporation in a case taken against Sony two years ago, agreeing that the PlayStation's Dual Shock controllers infringe two Immersion patents.

The case focused on US patents 6,275,213 and 6,424,333, which cover "haptic feedback" - specifically, the use of computer-controlled vibrating motors to provide tactile feedback to the user of a program.

Immersion filed suit against both Sony and Microsoft for infringing these patents in early 2002, and settled out of court with Microsoft in mid-2003, with the Seattle-based giant paying the company $26 million to license the technology, and buying a portion of the firm in the process.

Sony's decision to fight on in the US courts turned out to be the wrong one this week, as the jury found in favour of Immersion in the case, and, while no final judgement has been filed in the case, Sony has been ordered to pay $82 million in damages.

A number of post-trial motions and potentially appeals are expected to be lodged in the coming weeks, and Immersion has already begun rattling legal sabres, saying in a statement last night that it intends to ask the court for a permanent injunction against Sony.

This would effectively prevent the firm from selling any more Dual Shock controllers, although of course the real outcome here will be that Sony licenses the technology from Immersion, as Microsoft has done.

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GamesIndustry International is the world's leading games industry website, incorporating GamesIndustry.biz and IndustryGamers.com.

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