The 14 Most Scandalous Legal Battles in Gaming History

Motion Controller Patents

Immersion vs. Sony (2004)

Since the DualShock was released in 1997, Sony has been well known for the vibration feedback features in ist gaming controllers – otherwise known to PlayStation aficionados as “rumble features”. Immersion is a San Jose-based developer of haptic (AKA touch feedback) technology, and in 2002, sued both Sony and Microsoft for patent infringement. Microsoft settled out of court, buying a 10% share of Immersion, but Sony doggedly pursued the case.

This wasn’t one they were going to win. In 2003, they were ordered to pay $82 million in damages. Their subsequent 2004 appeal was lost, and as Ars Technica reported, this indirectly impacted the new PlayStation 3 controllers, which had their motion technology based on the original DualShock and DualShock 2 replaced with “tilt” motion sensitivity. The controversial Six Axis was very expensive and contributed to a drop in PS3 sales when compared to the Xbox 360.

This was a setback for Sony, who was not used to losing a lawsuit. Immersion most recently sued Apple for patent infringement, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out for them.

Published Jul. 6th 2017

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