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Sony surrenders PlayStation emulation fight

Voluntarily dismisses patent suit against Connectix

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Sony has canned its latest attempt to prevent Mac software developer Connectix from selling Virtual Game Station (VGS), a PlayStation emulator.

The two companies were due today to appear before the US District Court, Judge Charles Legge presiding, to hear a motion by Connectix to dismiss Sony's patent infringement case against it. However, Sony yesterday withdrew the case.

Sony filed the suit in February after its copyright infringement and trade secret violation suit against Connectix was all but dismissed. Appealing against a preliminary injunction banning the sale of VGS, Connectix was told that Sony's case did not warrant such a ban - though had Sony fought on patent grounds the case might have warranted it.

That verdict - and the subsequent overturning of the preliminary injunction - led to the collapse of Sony's case. Not satisfied, Sony then relaunched the action, this time seeking to attack Connectix on patent grounds.

Seven of Sony's nine patent claims were later rejected by Legge, but it now seems the final two will not be tested in court, and neither will a further 11 patents that Sony alleged that Connectix violated.

It's not clear whether Sony's mover was unilateral or the result of out-of-court negotiations. Connectix's comments suggest the former: "We recognise that Sony may still attempt to bring some of these claims back before the court at a later date," said company president and CEO Roy Macdonald.

With Sony now focused on the promotion of the PlayStation 2, it presumably is less concerned with fighting over the console's predecessor. Indeed, the company may even see the emulation market as a further way of maintaining sales of PlayStation software, which is broadly compatible with the PlayStation 2.

Then again, Sony is preparing a cut-price follow-up to the PlayStation, dubbed the PS One, so you'd have thought it would wish to keep battling. Clearly, then, it feels it doesn't have much of a chance of winning out against Connectix and that discretion is the better part of valour in this case. ®

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