NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gibson Guitar said on Friday that it filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Viacom Inc’s MTV networks, Harmonix and Electronic Arts relating to the wildly popular “Rock Band” video game and Harmonix’s previously developed game, “Guitar Hero.”
The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Tennessee, relates to the same patent involved in another suit Gibson filed earlier against various retailers of “Guitar Hero,” a competitor to “Rock Band,” the Tennessee-based guitar maker said in a statement.
The “Guitar Hero” series, published by Activision), has sold more than 14 million units in North America and raked in more than $1 billion since its 2005 debut, while “Rock Band” is a newer rival.
Gibson said the games, in which players use a guitar-shaped controller in time with notes on a television screen, violate a 1999 patent for technology to simulate a musical performance.
Harmonix developed the first “Guitar Hero” game and was later bought by MTV. Electronic Arts publishes “Rock Band” and another company, Activision Inc, as well as several retailers, either develop, distribute or sell one or several of the games in the “Guitar Hero” series.
“This lawsuit is completely without merit and we intend to defend it vigorously,” Harmonix said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Electronic Arts could not be reached for comment.
Earlier this month, Activision filed a preemptive suit against Gibson, which had complained that the games infringe upon one of its patents.
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.
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.
Activision licensed the rights to model its video controllers on Gibson guitar models and to use their likenesses in the game.
Activision has said that by waiting three years to raise its claim, Gibson had granted an implied license for any technology.
Editing by Christian Wiessner