Gibson Guitar sues MTV, Electronic Arts

NEW YORK Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:53pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Gibson Guitar said on Friday that it filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Viacom Inc's MTV networks and Harmonix as well as Electronic Arts relating to the wildly popular Guitar Hero video games.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Tennessee, relates to the same patent involved in another suit Gibson filed earlier against various retailers, the Tennessee-based guitar maker said in a statement.

A spokesperson for MTV and Electronic Arts could not be reached immediately for comment.

Harmonix developed the first Guitar Hero game and was later bought by MTV. Electronic Arts and another company, Activision Inc, as well as several retailers either develop, distribute or sell, one or several of the Guitar Hero series of video games.

Earlier this month, Activision filed a preemptive suit against Gibson which had complained that the games infringe upon on of its patents.

Gibson said the games, in which players press buttons on a guitar-shaped controller in time with notes on a TV screen, violates a 1999 patent for technology to simulate a musical performance.

Activision filed a lawsuit asking the U.S. District Court for Central California to declare Gibson's patent invalid and to bar it from seeking damages.

The "Guitar Hero" series has sold more than 14 million units in North America and raked in more than $1 billion since its 2005 debut.

Gibson, whose electric guitars are used by legendary blues and rock artists such as Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Slash, has been a high-profile partner in the "Guitar Hero" games, with Activision licensing the rights to model its controllers on Gibson guitar models and to use their likenesses in the game.

Activision earlier said its games did not infringe Gibson's patent, and that by waiting three years to raise its claim, the guitar maker had granted an implied license for any technology.

(Additional reporting by Scott Hillis and Gina Keating)

(Reporting by Ilaina Jonas)

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