Will Sony Have to Stop Selling PlayStations?

A U.S. court ordered Sony Computer Entertainment to pay Immersion $90.7 million for patent infringement of touch feedback technology used in PlayStation games consoles, said court documents. The court also ordered a halt to U.S. sales of infringing PlayStation-brand consoles and 47 software titles as part of a patent-infringement lawsuit, but put the order on-hold pending an appeal.

The rulings from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Thursday are the results of a lawsuit filed in 2002 by San Jose-based Immersion against Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment America, and Microsoft.

In the suit Immersion alleged that the three defendants had infringed on its patents covering haptic--or touch--feedback. Microsoft licensed Immersion's technology in 2003 but Sony decided to fight on.

In the rulings, U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken ordered Sony and its U.S. unit to pay $82 million for infringement of U.S. patents 6,424,333 and 6,275,213 and an interest payment of $8.7 million. The court denied a counter-claim from Sony for a declaration of non-infringement, according to the judgment.

The court also enjoined SCEI from manufacturing, using, selling, and/or importing into the U.S. infringing PlayStation consoles, Dualshock controllers, and 47 games that were found to infringe one or both of the patents.

On Hold

However, this injunction was put on hold in response to a counter-motion from Sony. The court said it stayed the order after consideration of Sony's chances of winning an appeal against the injunction, damage to Sony and Immersion that such a stay would cause and also the public interest, said the judgement. Sony was also ordered to pay a license for products already in the marketplace and those subsequently sold.

Sony was disappointed by the decision but intends to fight the injunction, said Daisuke Nakata, a spokesperson for Sony Computer Entertainment in Tokyo.

Immersion could not be immediately reached for comment.

The games listed in the judgement are: A Bug's Life; Amplitude; Ape Escape; Atlantis: The Lost Empire; Bloody Roar 2; Cool Boarders 3, 4, and 2001; Crash Bash; Crash Team Racing; Draken: The Ancients' Gate; Emperor's New Groove; Extermination; FantaVision; Final Fantasy X; Formula One 2001; The Getaway; Gran Turismo 1, 2 and 3; Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and 3; Grind Session; ICO; Jak & Daxter; Kinetica; Kingdom Hearts; Legend of the Dragon; The Mark of Kri; Medal of Honor Frontline; Medieval 2; Metal Gear Solid 2; Monsters Inc.; Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus; SOCOM Navy Seals; Speed Punks; Spyro; Ripto's Rage and Year of the Dragon; Stuart Little 2; Syphon Filter 2, and 3; Tony's Hawk's Pro Skater 3; Twisted Metal: Black, 4 and Small Brawl; Treasure Planet; and War of the Monsters.

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