Sony gets a bad vibration

Sony has been ordered by a US judge to pay $90 million damages to the Californian company Immersion Corporation for patent infringement. The suit refers to the vibration mechanism built into control pads for PlayStations that provide synchronised tactile feedback during a game

The award follows a decision by a jury in the Northern Californian jurisdiction that Sony had infringed Immersion’s patent by incorporating the Dual Shock controller technology into its consoles.

In addition, the court decreed a permanent injunction against Sony manufacturing, importing or selling PlayStation consoles, Dual Shock controllers, and the 47 games which make use of the feature. Sony says it will appeal the ruling. Until then, the permanent injunction remains on hold. However, it will be paying a licence fee to Immersion until the hearing.

Immersion remains confident it will prevail in the appeal process. It also seemed to hold out the promise of a deal once the lawsuit is finally settled. From Immersion’s point of view, the damages constitute a big pay day. In 2004, Immersion’s total revenues were $23.8 million.

On the other side, Sony Corporation makes far too much money from the PlayStation to allow the permanent injunction to take effect. In the quarter ending 31st December last year, Sony’s total operating income was $1,341 million of which Games constituted $433 million.

Immersion’s CEO Victor Viegas said in a statement, ‘We now hold more than 270 patents in our worldwide intellectual property portfolio and have more than 280 patent applications pending. Immersion has a long list of licensees in the automotive, gaming, medical, mobility, and other markets, and we will continue to license our technology under appropriate circumstances.’

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