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New Sony force feedback lawsuit emerges

Engineer alleges Sony conspired to obtain patents at below market value

Sony is about to be embroiled in another lawsuit concerning force feedback technology, according to a complaint filed in New Jersey.

As first reported by website Patent Arcade, the lawsuit concerns patent holder Craig Thorner, who alleges that Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) conspired with peripheral maker Performance Designed Products (PDP) to have him sign away patent rights for a fraction of their value.

Thorner held several patents relating to force feedback technology, which became central to Sony's defence in its infamous legal action against Immersion. He claims that after Sony's loss against Immersion he was contacted by PDP, who were also involved in legal action with Immersion.

PDP licensed Thorner's patents using the same attorneys representing Sony and Thorner now alleges that the two companies conspired to cheat him out of a more favourable deal. Thorner is suing PDP for legal malpractice and Sony for patent infringement.

Both Microsoft and Sony were sued by force feedback maker Immersion, in actions dating back to 2003. Sony fought and lost the lawsuit. As a result they ended up paying USD 90 million in damages and saw the PlayStation 3 launch without any force feedback technology in its SixAxis controllers.

Microsoft initially settled for USD 26 million, before receiving USD 20.75 million back in royalties Immersion obtained from Sony.


David Jenkins