Activision Seeks Declaratory Judgment That Guitar Hero Video Game Doesn’t Infringe Gibson Guitar’s Patent

Los Angeles, CA – Activision, the maker of the popular video game “Guitar Hero,” filed a declaratory judgment complaint asking the Court to rule that the video game does not infringe on Gibson Guitar’s patent. Gibson is the owner of U.S. Patent No. 5,990,405 (“the ‘405 Patent”), titled “System and Method For Generating and Controlling a Simulated Musical Experience.” In January of 2008, patent attorneys for Gibson informed Activision that the Guitar Hero video-game infringed the ‘405 Patent and offered a license. Apparently Activision was already licensing trademarks owned by Gibson and the parties had a continuing business relationship for several years.

guitar-hero-patent.jpgLicensing negotiations hit a sour note and Activision filed the instant complaint asking the District Court in Los Angeles to rule that the ‘405 Patent is invalid and/or not infringed by the Guitar Hero video-game. Activision also alleges that because Gibson has been aware of the Guitar Hero video-game for many years and has encouraged its sale, that Gibson should be estopped from asserting the patent. Also, because Gibson has encouraged the sale of the games, Activision argues that it has an implied license under the ‘405 patent. Further, Activision alleges that because Gibson has been fully aware of the Guitar Hero video-game for several years, it should not be able to enforce the patent under the doctrine of laches. The case is titled Activision Publishing, Inc. v. Gibson Guitar Corporation, CV08-01653 PSG (C.D. California).