Sony settles Immersion lawsuit

Next Generation reports that the long-lasting suit between Sony Computer Entertainment and force feedback technology firm Immersion has finally been settled, and the two companies have already announced a new agreement to work on vibration capabilities

"We are pleased to have put this litigation behind us," said Immersion CEO Victor Viegas. "Our new business agreement with Sony is specifically intended to enable advanced vibration capability for the benefit of the PlayStation gaming community. We are happy to provide our technology in this regard and hope to make technical proposals very soon with respect to use of our technology in the PlayStation products."

Immersion will be awarded damages, costs and interest, pre-judgment interest and will retain compulsory licensing fees ordered by the District Court which were already paid.

In 2005, the court had ordered Sony to pay Immersion over $90 million, which includes interest, for infringing on force feedback patents for game controllers. Sony appealed the decision last year and lost.

The specific financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed by the companies in a press release, although Immersion's form-8K filed today shows that under the agreement, Immersion will receive from Sony 12 quarterly payments of $1.875 million beginning in March totalling $22.5 million, along with fees and royalties. Immersion has also agreed not to enforce the permanent injunction issued in March 2005.

Sony said that the litigation will have ‘no material impact’ on its previously-announced earnings forecast. This new agreement between the companies also gives SCE ‘certain new rights with respect to Immersion's patent portfolio’.

SCE president Kaz Hirai said: "We look forward to exploring with Immersion exciting new ways to bring the largest and best range of gameplay experiences to our customers. We are very excited about our new partnership with Immersion and the potential for new and innovative products incorporating their technologies."

In the past, Hirai and other Sony execs had downplayed the importance of the rumble feature in its PS3 controller, Sixaxis. Hirai had previously called the exclusion of rumble a ‘strategic’ move to save customers money. Prior to that, Sony had claimed that combining vibration and the motion-sensing features of the Sixaxis wasn't technically feasible.


Tags: Sony , ps3 , rumble

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