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Gibson and Activision duel over Guitar Hero

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Publisher Activision has asked a US court to reject a claim made by legendary guitar manufacturer Gibson that the hugely popular Guitar Hero game - even Bill Gates likes it - spanks a software patent owned by the plank producer.

Gibson has yet to file a formal complaint of its own, but it says it contacted Activision in January to show how it believes Guitar Hero violates a patent it filed in 1999. The patent details a way of using virtual-reality hardware to simulate participation in a musical concert.

Gibson wants Activision either to license the patent or to halt sales of all Guitar Hero games, of which there are already numerous versions.

In a statement, Gibson said that it has tried to resolve the problem company-to-company. For its part, the games publisher said in a statement of its own that it disagrees with applicability of Gibson’s patent and so is seeking legal clarification.

Guitar Hero was first released in 2005. Activision claims that by waiting so long before voicing a complaint, Gibson tacitly gave the publisher a licence for its technology.

Ironically, the two companies already have an agreement allowing Activision to model Guitar Hero's electronic guitar controller, and virtual ones used in the game, on Gibson’s real-life instruments.

Last year, US rockers The Romantics sued Activision for use of the band’s hit What I Like About You in game sequel Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s. The lawsuit claimed the game used a sound-alike imitation of the song and not the band’s master recording.

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