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Sony Ordered to Pay Tech Company in Patent Infringement Suit

28 Mar, 2005 By: John Gaudiosi

Sony Corp. must pay Northern California technology company Immersion Corp. $90.7 million in patent infringement damages for its use of the rumble feature that allows PlayStation and PlayStation 2 Dual Shock controllers to vibrate in conjunction with in-game action.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ordered Sony to pay the full amount and also issued an injunction for Sony to stop selling PlayStation and PlayStation 2 hardware, Dual Shock Controllers and 47 games that utilize the technology, including third-party games like Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and first-party titles like Gran Turismo 3.

A jury last year awarded Immersion $82 million in damages and the additional amount accounts for interest, as post-trial motions have come to a close.

Sony appealed the decision and was granted a stay of permanent injunction, but will have to pay Immersion a licensing fee for the duration of the stay. As a result, the sale of all PlayStation and PS2 hardware and software will continue uninterrupted. The injunction is limited to sales in the United States.

“The court-ordered permanent injunction to stop the shipment and sale of infringing products in the U.S. is an important indicator of the strength of our case and the potential risks involved in this litigation,” said Immersion CEO Victor Viegas in a statement. “We have always believed, and continue to believe, in the strength of our intellectual property. We remain confident of our position in the appeals process.”

Immersion filed its suit in February 2002 against Sony and Microsoft Corp., which uses rumble technology in Xbox controllers. In 2003, Microsoft settled out of court for $26 million and was awarded a 10 percent stake in Immersion. Sony decided to let the battle go to the courts, and will now likely pay more for its decision.

The legal issues will have no immediate impact on the sales of Sony hardware and software. Sony's new PSP device, which does not employ force feedback technology, is not part of the litigation.

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