Link to Bloomberg article
Battle of the virtual bands shifts from the stage to the courthouse.
By Ben Silverman
We wanted a rock opera, not a soap opera.
According to a Bloomberg report, the one-time king of the music game genre has filed suit against Harmonix, MTV Networks and Viacom, claiming that the hit game Rock Band violates a variety of patents issued to Konami back in 2002 and 2003. These involve "simulated musical instruments, a music-game system and a musical-rhythm matching game."
If you think Konami is just digging for a cash settlement, you'd only be half-right. The Dance Dance Revolution masterminds are reportedly seeking financial compensation along with an order to block Harmonix from using any inventions covered by the patents, which presumably would include Rock Band's lauded peripherals. If it goes through, it could spell disaster for the breakout MTV music game franchise.
The suit is just the latest in a series of legal salvos between music video game makers. Several months back, guitar maker Gibson sued Viacom, Guitar Hero publisher Activision and a group of retailers over the violation of another suite of music game patents. Harmonix, meanwhile, claims to own its very own set of patents, making this quite the patent-holding headache.
Harmonix issued a terse response to the Konami suit.
"Konami's actions are extremely surprising. Unfortunately, successful products such as Rock Band can often become targets for baseless litigation," a company spokesperson said. "We have substantial defenses to this claim and intend to vigorously defend it."
Ironically, Konami has recently been criticized for jumping on the video game bandwagon after announcing Rock Revolution, an upcoming rhythm game inspired in large part by Rock Band itself. A Rock Band sequel is planned for release this September.