The hits just keep on coming for Activision (ATVI) and its hit Guitar Hero game. Hours after Viacom’s Harmonix agreed to settle its suit with Activsion that stemmed from a royalty dispute, Gibson Guitar Inc. told the company that its game violates a patent.
Gibson says the game violated a 1999 patent for “technology to simulate a musical performance.” The twist: Gibson already has a deal with Guitar Hero: It has licensed out its Les Paul line as the inspiration for one of the game’s guitar shaped controllers. Activision is asking a U.S District Court in California to declare Gibson’s patent invalid.
The Guitar Hero franchise, now in its third iteration, has sold more than 14 million games — and as our Editor In Chief discovered on a Silicon Valley trip last fall, the kids here love it. The first two games were developed by Harmonix for publisher RedOctane, but in 2006 RedOctane was bought by Activision, which developed the third game through its own subsidiary, Neversoft.