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Konami Sues Harmonix Over  Rock Band  Patents

Konami Sues Harmonix Over Rock Band Patents

July 11, 2008 | By David Jenkins

July 11, 2008 | By David Jenkins
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Japanese-headquartered publisher Konami has sued Rock Band developer Harmonix over alleged patent infringements with its range of rhythm action games and associated controllers.

Konami's long-running Guitar Freaks and DrumMania series of titles feature similar gameplay to Rock Band and also use musical instrument shaped controllers. Konami also publishes a range of karaoke themed games, including the Karaoke Revolution series on consoles, which Harmonix has worked on in the past.

Harmonix's first game to feature a proprietary controller was the original Guitar Hero in November 2005 and its unclear why Konami has only now disputed its patents.

However, according to a Bloomberg report, the patents in question date from 2002 and 2003 and relate to "simulated musical instruments", a "music-game system" and a "musical-rhythm matching game".

Gamasutra exclusively exposed some of the patent-related licensing between Konami and Activision in late 2007, done at the time for Guitar Hero III's release.

We noted at the time of that game's release: "Patent disputes and licenses such as this have major ramifications for the future of music games - and one area of particular interest might be how Harmonix/MTV's Rock Band deals with the same patents... Harmonix itself has several patents related to its music game history."

Konami's demands include cash compensation and a court order blocking Harmonix and owner/publishers MTV Games from continuing to sell the products. MTV Games owners Viacom have not responded to the complaint at time of press.

Konami is planning to release its own Rock Band style title named Rock Revolution for home consoles, while Harmonix recently announced Xbox 360 timed exclusive Rock Band 2.


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