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.