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How Sony Got It's Rumble Back

Posted on Thursday, September 20 @ 18:50:18 Eastern by Duke_Ferris
The big news from Tokyo Game Show is the new wireless DualShock 3 for the PS3.When Sony said they couldn't put vibration in the SixAxis because of tech limitations, they were simply lying.

It's actually a nasty story of patents and lawsuits. Here's the short version:

Way back in 2002, a company called Immersion sued both Sony and Microsoft for patent infringement, claiming they owned the patent for vibrating controllers. Microsoft decided to settle with Immersion and, in a $26 million deal, got both licensing rights and a big chunk of Immersion's stock. Later, Microsoft sold that stock for a tidy profit.

Sony, on the other hand, decided to fight it out in court. A bad choice because they lost both the case and several appeals, with a court judgement for $96 million. Ouch. Meanwhile, Sony didn't dare put  the rumble in any new systems - as a judge would have just blocked its sale anyway - and so the SixAxis was born.

Finally, Sony coughed up the dough in March of this year, $97.3 million for the lawsuit and an additional $22.5 million to license the rumble for the PS3. Double ouch!

But it still gets uglier - Microsoft is now suing Immersion for breach of contract. As part of the Microsoft contract with Immersion, if Sony and Immersion settled their suit, Immersion was supposed to pay Microsoft a significant chunk of that. A smart move on Microsoft's part because vibration is more valuable when only Xbox controllers have it, and less valuable if everyone has it.

But Immersion isn't paying up because they claim it was not a "settlement" but a "business agreement" with Sony. I have to say, I think Microsoft is in the right here - Sony paid money for Immersion to drop the lawsuit. If that's not a settlement, I don't know what is.

I think all that's left now is for Sony and Microsoft to sue each other, and the circle of life will be complete.



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