More Plastic Guitar Patent Suits: Viacom Sues Konami


First Gibson Guitar sued Activsion (ATVI), claiming plastic guitars violated one of its patents. Then Japanese video game company Konami sued Viacom (VIA) on similar grounds. Now Viacom is suing Konami back.

Consider it a scramble for what few plastic guitar dollars are still out there — as we noted last week, (at least in NYC) bankrupt Circuit City cannot move hundreds of the surplus faux musical instruments, in a sign (together with falling revenue) that the once white-hot music game fad has run its course.

Bloomberg: The complaint, filed yesterday in federal court in Boston, seeks to block sales of the video game by Tokyo-based Konami, plus cash compensation…

Konami began selling “Rock Revolution” in October to compete with “Rock Band” by Harmonix and “Guitar Hero” by Activision Blizzard Inc. “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” together accounted for 16 per cent of video-game software sales in December, according to researcher NPD Group Inc.

Konami sued Harmonix and New York-based Viacom in July, claiming “Rock Band” infringes two of its patents for simulating musical instruments. Viacom is seeking to have that case transferred from a federal court in Marshall, Texas, to the one in Boston because Harmonix is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Viacom patent, issued Dec. 2, claims it is an improvement of earlier video-game controllers that emulate musical instruments, and cites the Beatmania series of games by Konami as an example of the older inventions.