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View Full Version : Microsoft vs. Immersion: Round 2 (6/19)



Woody
June 19th, 2007, 12:40 PM
In 2002 Immersion filed a lawsuit against both Microsoft and Sony for patent infringement in regards to rumble technology the companies used in their game controllers. In 2003 Microsoft settled with Immersion for $26 million. In 2007, after over 2 years of appeals, Sony settled with Immersion for $97 million for damages and interest plus another $22.5 million to license the rumble technology through 2009. Apparently part of the settlement deal with Microsoft stated that if Immersion settled with Sony, they would repay Microsoft based on the Sony settlement amount. But, after settling with Sony, Immersion "modified their 2006 annual report with a statement proclaiming they no longer felt obligated to pay Microsoft anything".
1Up.Com

Like the source article indicates, Immersion agreed to pay Microsoft money if they got money out of Sony. Which they did. But, now that Immersion has gotten their hands into Sony's pockets, they are claiming they owe Microsoft nothing. Needless to say Microsoft disagrees.

I just can't wrap my head around why they feel they owe Microsoft nothing. It's right there in the settlement agreement. I was going to read the 2006 shreholder report (that Immersion retro-actively modified), but it's 108 pages of eye-numbing textual rambling. So... I gave up on that idea pretty quickly.

As for that final bubble, I know technically no one can own the rights to a word. But if any company could figure out how to... it'd probably be Microsoft.

Whytewulf
June 19th, 2007, 12:46 PM
Suing for suing sake is all the rage...

Don't quote me on that, I don't wanna be sued.

People always go after the big boys. But you’re right; I don't see how Immersion thinks they don't have to pay.

Oh and I believe people can own the rights to a word or phrase even as innocuous as "Your Fired" (thank you Donald Trump), "Threepeat" (thank you Pat Riley) and "I think we should just be friends" (ex girlfriend). But this may be only the case of in print/media/profitable use. (I don't feel like looking up all the details.)

Talquin
June 19th, 2007, 12:47 PM
Ahh yes i can see it now , Microsoft buying Websters Dictionary. Who wants to buy Winbsters Millennium?

KaiTenSatsuma
June 19th, 2007, 12:51 PM
It seems greed knows no bounds, 97 million plus interest, and they didnt make a peep when sony used rumble back on the ps1.

now they want to go around their agreement with microsoft? I guess greed doesn't just know no bounds, but it loves to break the law made by a legal document.

Kamicaze5
June 19th, 2007, 12:51 PM
Actually, a commonly cited example of "owning" a word is the trademarking of "Three-peat" by the NBA coach Pat Riley.

DashCat9
June 19th, 2007, 12:51 PM
My absolute favorite chapter of this story was Sony claiming that the exclusion of rumble from the Sixaxis had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they didn't want to pay the people that invented and owned the rights to the technology. They actually tried to say that taking out a function that almost everyone that plays console games enjoyed and had gotten used to...was to the benefit of the consumer. Longer battery life, lighter controller, etc....Riiiiight.

Anyway. This is just silly. It's obvious that Immersion knows they are going to lose. They had to know that Microsoft would react immediately with a lawsuit and that if they actually plan on fighting this, they are going to have to pay out anyway and eat the additional cost of taking it to court.

Katuyah
June 19th, 2007, 12:53 PM
ROFL! :) Awesome comic! Gotta love Microsoft...I doubt anyone would get away with not paying them their due for long.

Lusitano
June 19th, 2007, 12:57 PM
Weird Al Yankovic comes to mind :D .

Woody
June 19th, 2007, 12:58 PM
Phrases are viable for trademark.

SirGraystone
June 19th, 2007, 01:22 PM
Aah the joy of sueing...

I reamember watching on tv some years ago something about MacDonald (the restaurants chain) threatening to sue a nice scottish lady in england because her restaurant was name Macmuffins. But it didnt go to court after the head of the MacDonald (the scottish clan) got into it and pointed out that they had the name Macdonald a lot longer then the restaurants...

Saroc_Luclin
June 19th, 2007, 01:25 PM
Hehe, I'm a bit surprised the title wasn't something like "Lets get ready to RUMMMBLLLLEEE!!!" :)

Just skimmed Slashdot's take on the article and it's a mess I don't even want to peer too deeply into. I'm sure if you look deep enough someone is probably suing themselves. (actually maybe not all that deeply since MS's settlement deal had them buy a portion of Immersion IIRC)

LostintheWood
June 19th, 2007, 01:26 PM
And we wonder why any lawyer can possibly go hungry in this country....

KaiTenSatsuma
June 19th, 2007, 01:32 PM
And we wonder why any lawyer can possibly go hungry in this country....

They dont, legal students, computer science majors and animal rights activists on the other hand...

Jpaugh
June 19th, 2007, 01:47 PM
Maybe this is common knowledge or something I am just oblivious to, but why is it that Sony gets slapped and Microsoft (is supposed to) get a refund? If Microsoft uses the rumble function in it's controllers enough to get sued in the first place, why a money back guarantee pending Sony pays up?

tobalaz
June 19th, 2007, 01:49 PM
This is only the second time in my life you'll ever hear me say "Go Microsoft!" And I hope they win.
Sony pulling rumble for the PS3 was just downright moronic, after all, what's better than the controller going nuts in Grand Turismo when you hit durt at over 100 mph?

Zutan
June 19th, 2007, 01:49 PM
i absolutly hate rumble tech. any game i can turn it off in i do. it drivs be nuts. i hold my controllers fairly lightly in my hands. so having them all of a sudden go apecrap in my hands tends to make them fall out of my hands or shift so the buttons are no longer lined up with my fingers properly.

Smish
June 19th, 2007, 02:02 PM
This is the first time I've actually laughed out loud at a webcomic in a while. Not that I don't find others funny, I just have a very reserved laughing schema. That last bubble really made it for me.

Maverynthia
June 19th, 2007, 02:04 PM
Aah the joy of sueing...

I reamember watching on tv some years ago something about MacDonald (the restaurants chain) threatening to sue a nice scottish lady in england because her restaurant was name Macmuffins. But it didnt go to court after the head of the MacDonald (the scottish clan) got into it and pointed out that they had the name Macdonald a lot longer then the restaurants...

Only it's MCDonald's and that's Irish and NOT Scottish! The fact that they call their food Mac anything is baffling...considering it's MCDonald's....

Though we still own the farms though.....

Ival
June 19th, 2007, 02:05 PM
So when do the sex toy and "handheld massager" companies step up and get their piece of the pie?

Pretty much the same technology...

coprserus
June 19th, 2007, 02:15 PM
Microsoft has trademarked the generic word "Windows". They almost lost it during the Lindows court battle...until they settled out of court... But they settled before actually losing it.

Woody
June 19th, 2007, 02:30 PM
Jpaugh, there doesn't have to be a reason other than "it was in the agreement". If there wasn't some mutual benefit to it Immersion would never have agreed to it.

If I had to guess, they saw the Microsoft settlement as quick money that they could use to really go after Sony. The deal probably would have gone through in reverse too. So if Sony had settled first...

tuckerpb2
June 19th, 2007, 02:32 PM
Woody have you ever consider copyrighting "toast smish"?

Woody
June 19th, 2007, 02:41 PM
No.

Vostagg
June 19th, 2007, 03:16 PM
Hey Woody, long time reader, first time poster. Took a quick glance at Immersion's annual report and the wording dealing with the tentative agreement with Microsoft regarding the Sony settlement is on page 42 under the Long-Term Liabilities heading.

A little more information is included in Note 9 on page 69 (Long-term Customer Advance from Microsoft).

After reading the notes, they do come out saying they don't believe they owe Microsoft any payment, but that they believe "it is uncertain that Microsoft will accept our position or that we will ultimately prevail with our position."

Looks like they at least got the last part of that right.

Woody
June 19th, 2007, 03:41 PM
That info is cited in the source article. (No extra reading required.)

Kyllinge
June 19th, 2007, 03:48 PM
See if there was a first come first refund clause to either side depending who settled first. I'm wondering why they did this to Sony (and bless their hearts for doing so) and MS only got a hand slap settlement? Would occur to me to go deeper into MS's pockets seeing it has more money. (least last I knew it did, head by one of top five richest in world)

Pojodan
June 19th, 2007, 03:49 PM
Heh.. wow.

Would this be an example of biting the hand that fed you?

Not to say that Microsoft or Sony are in the right on this matter.


All this over a tiny motor that spins an unbalanced weight.

Kyllinge
June 19th, 2007, 04:03 PM
I'm actually surprised they didn't try to press their luck and go after Nintendo too with their N64 "rumble pak" and believe the gamecube had rumble tech as well. I doubt the Wii does, but since I don't have the $600 for any of these newer systems, I wouldnt know. (I know, only PS3 cost that much BUT as Wii is more for multi-player, you have to buy the extra controllers, the gamepad for the downloaded games, the nunchuck, memory card...)

Pojodan
June 19th, 2007, 04:05 PM
I'm actually surprised they didn't try to press their luck and go after Nintendo too with their N64 "rumble pak" and believe the gamecube had rumble tech as well. I doubt the Wii does, but since I don't have the $600 for any of these newer systems, I wouldnt know. (I know, only PS3 cost that much BUT as Wii is more for multi-player, you have to buy the extra controllers, the gamepad for the downloaded games, the nunchuck, memory card...)

The Wii has rumble, too.

And, as I recall, Nintendo actually pays for usage of the technology, hence them not being sued.

Calbeck
June 19th, 2007, 04:37 PM
Well, TSR (They Sue Regularly, may they RIP) did trademark the term "Nazi". -:D

Seems they didn't want anyone infringing on their Indiana Jones RPG, which bombed anyways.

I was also once sued by FASA, who claimed they didn't have a contractural relationship with me. Given that I never claimed they did, I just checked the paperwork to make sure they weren't slipping anything "extra" in, and pretty much let 'em waste their lawyer fees.

Volante
June 19th, 2007, 04:40 PM
The Wii has rumble, too.

And, as I recall, Nintendo actually pays for usage of the technology, hence them not being sued.

Nintendo designed and patented their own rumble technology. They were immune from the Immersion suits.

/hides back under lurking rock

Crissa
June 19th, 2007, 05:20 PM
They probably feel that the wording in Microsoft's settlement was unfair... Or that they expent Microsoft's money many years ago, and so no longer believe that Microsoft has a stake in it.

It's a stupid patent, anyhow. Why aren't they suing all the companies in the world that make vibrating pagers and phones?

-Crissa

Woody
June 19th, 2007, 05:34 PM
Unfair or not, they agreed to it via legal document. The return payment to Microsoft would come out of the money from the Sony settlement.

Like with the Nintendo, it would depend entirely on the rumble technology that was used. Not all rumble technology is the same.

Razorback
June 19th, 2007, 06:35 PM
Sony has to pay them nearly 5x the amount MS did because they drug it out longer? nice... :)

Woody
June 19th, 2007, 07:08 PM
Yeah, basically because they'd lost a jury decision previously, and would likely lose a jury decision again. In that case the jury would make a suggestion as to how much Sony would owe in damages. The judge would make a final decision. But, if Sony lost, he would take Immersion and the jury's suggestions into advisement.

Jawajoey
June 19th, 2007, 07:38 PM
First time poster here, I just registered, but I've read GU for a while.

I just had to say, this comic was hilarious.

And I too have been baffled by this development. I think it's kind of silly that Microsoft got that provision in the contract in the first place, I wonder how they pulled that off, but now that it's in there, on what possible grounds can Immersion just say "Eh, I don't really want to."

Darkwolven
June 19th, 2007, 08:05 PM
Can anybody verify the details of the original suit? Is it that Immersion own a patent on the -idea- of rumble technology in a controller or has MS and Sony used specific code and algorithms? I was of the thought that rumble technology in controllers was invented by Sony because Immersion wasn't on my map until a few years later? In actuality, the original PS1 rumble pads were pretty weak.

Please no people replying to this with BS talking out of rear ends. Anybody know specifics regarding this? As for Nintendo, the rumble pack is a separate device, therefore not covered by the Immersion patent.

duncan922
June 19th, 2007, 09:31 PM
I find it kind of odd. I'm not a legal expert, but if I understand what is said correctly, Immersion won against both Microsoft and Sony. But the settlement with Microsoft says that if they won against Sony, they would give money back to Microsoft....


What the hell kinda stupid settlement was that? They settled, so it means that they were right, why do they felt compelled to give money back to Microsoft if they won against someone else???

I believe they did not have to give any money to Microsoft. But they should've thought of that before making that settlement. They should fire their lawyers.

athos69
June 19th, 2007, 10:34 PM
Looks (to me) like it is a case of corporate warfare by proxy.

Microsoft saw that Sony was also being sued and told Immersion, " Look guys, we could keep this suit in the courts until Hades freezes over, but we want to screw over Sony because they are a bunch of tigh-wad assholes. You help us hurt them, and we'll finance it. The trick is to make it look like we aren't the ones sticking it to Sony, so we'll settle and you use the money to hurt Sony. The catch is that this is an unofficial 'loan', and will have to be paid back when you win the suit against Sony. Whadda ya say?"

42
June 20th, 2007, 12:34 AM
[Microsoft has] deep pockets and are very litigious and Immersion is wasting money and clogging the courts.

Post edited. Needless ranting removed.

midmagic
June 20th, 2007, 01:19 AM
There's an Article at wikipedia about it "Immersion v. Sony"

Post edited. "Unspoken" Rules #2 and #4.

bruenor
June 20th, 2007, 02:20 AM
I come from denmark its such a small contry that you have city's that have more people in em then we have as a nation. This however dosent limit people from finding ways to sue someone.

We have a small micro brewery that made a beer called braveheart, and yes they got sued by Mel gibson for useing the name braveheart as he though that he owned that name..
The brewery couldnt afford the lawsuit and has therefore taken the product of the market..

just seems silly to me.. Way to go Mel
Bruenor

Bladestorm
June 20th, 2007, 04:43 AM
I would imagine the amounts also have something to do with the number of controllers sold that used rumble technology, which would be a much bigger number for sony (longterm sales of PS1+PS2 vs more recent original XBOX at the time)

Basically the situation being something like microsoft said "Ok we'll pay you $10 per controller, if sony settle for $7 per controller in the end, we expect $3 per controller to be refunded"

(all numbers merely to illustrate point, I haven't a clue what actual numbers would look like)

B_Delacroix
June 20th, 2007, 06:21 AM
Like someone said, Weird Al comes to mind. (search Weird Al Sue ya in google or whatever).

Dark Jedi
June 20th, 2007, 06:42 AM
It's all about the money. Take what they would have paid Microsoft, put it in high yield term investments. Tell MS "No."
Wait for suit. Resist with paperwork and stalling tactics for a year or two, as long as you possibly can. Settle out of court and give that invested principal (and maybe less, depending on settlement) to MS. Interest is sitting at 25% or so, and you made a tidy profit off of someone else's fortune.

Intricase
June 20th, 2007, 07:09 AM
I honestly believe that since Mircosoft knows that it will be a target for other companies to file law suits they go ahead and initiate the lawsuit and adjust the wholesale price of their products to fund their own behavior and financially justify the loss.

[So, to me,] Its not that Microsoft even really wants the money from immersion its just that their Legal Force needs a moral booster.

Woody
June 20th, 2007, 08:09 AM
Alright, I think that's about enough Microsoft bashing. Let's rein it in some and move on. Your personal issues with Microsoft are better served addressed to Microsoft.

Kyllinge
June 20th, 2007, 11:03 AM
Good idea. Posting MS hate only goes so far anyway. If you're mad at MS just send them a picture of a X-Box running Linux instead. Woody said nothing about stopping the Sony bashing though... ;)
Anyhow, what exactly is the current state of the PS3 as to vibration? It completely unsupported or it has the ability and just not allowed to use ATM?

Whytewulf
June 20th, 2007, 12:00 PM
Wait for suit. Resist with paperwork and stalling tactics for a year or two, as long as you possibly can. Settle out of court and give that invested principal (and maybe less, depending on settlement) to MS. Interest is sitting at 25% or so, and you made a tidy profit off of someone else's fortune.

Just a quick note, this doesn't always work, as the settlement figures can figure in interest and punitve damages. And in some cases, you can't always stall, and then again even the stalling can cost big money.

tobalaz
June 20th, 2007, 01:30 PM
MS made an agreement with Immersion, Immersion went back on it, MS deserves to rip 'em a new one.

Rip
June 20th, 2007, 09:13 PM
TSR did trademark the term "Nazi".

TSR didn't trademark the term "Nazi". Its an urban legend that comes from the fact that the Indiana Jones RPG included cardboard figures some of which were labeled "Nazi(TM)". What was being trademarked wasn't the term "Nazi" but rather the cardboard figures themselves. Also, it was LucasFilm that held all the trademarks related to the Indiana Jones RPG, not TSR.

Now Marvel and DC comics claim to co-own a trademark on the word "Superhero" so if you try to publish a comic book with "Superhero" in the title you'll be getting a cease & desist letter from them pretty quickly.

Marvel Comics also claims a trademark on the word "Marvel" so you can pretty much forget about publishing a comic book with "Marvel" in the title as well. Its why DC always publishes their Captain Marvel character under the title Shazam! and its why Alan Moore's Marvelman series, originally published in Great Britain, had to change its name to Miracleman when it was reprinted here in the States. (And its also why Alan Moore got extremely pissed off and swore to never work for Marvel. Not that it takes much to get Alan Moore extremely pissed off mind you.)

Nanaki
June 21st, 2007, 09:33 AM
Now Marvel and DC comics claim to co-own a trademark on the word "Superhero" so if you try to publish a comic book with "Superhero" in the title you'll be getting a cease & desist letter from them pretty quickly.


It is also very likely that such a trademark will not actually hold up in Court if someone ever bothered to challenge that trademark.

KaiTenSatsuma
June 22nd, 2007, 09:10 AM
Well since people are legally enforcing words, grabbing them and yelling "MINE!" I'll just go ahead and trademark the 1337 dictionary.

And no one can use it, ever again, I have done the universe good.

I figure the MS issue this way, they could have probably whupped Immersion in the court room, lord knows they have enough money right? The only thing they had in there was the clause in the thing they signed, "If you sue Sony, we require a kickback" or something like that, Immersion signed the thing, either they didnt see the clause or they ignored it.

Low and Behold now they're trying to fight a legally enforced document? Sorry, no go there, you signed it, you agreed, its time to hold up your end of the bargain or you WILL suffer. I have no fight with Microsoft's business practices, its simple commerce, Bush and lawyers we know and will not speak about do much worse on a regular basis, PEOPLE do worse than microsoft is allegedly doing in this case, in Yahoo a couple are being sued because their children are shouting and having fun in a pool, plaintiffs say: "Our 5 dogs dont make that much noise"

Oh yeah? What do you feed these dogs, morphine? one of my classrooms was down a hill from a dog pound, a rather large hill at that, and we could hear dogs barking there all the time, it only took one, and they didn't stop barking through the whole day.

Kyllinge
June 22nd, 2007, 02:01 PM
Oh yeah? What do you feed these dogs, morphine?

I have a Rott & Pit mix, and she rarely ever barks, so it isn't unheard of to have quiet dogs. It all depends on the breed. (beagels are amoung the noisy breeds) Let me know if they win though, got a few people around here that don't know when the 4th of July is, as they set fireworks off all thru June. (which my dog is terrified of)
Enough is been said about this lawsuit. While this one makes Microssoft look bad for simply having the clause, Sony's no victim either. Remember those Sony vs. Ebay suits? And that was only over make-beleive items.