Patent Ruling Could Affect Sony PS3

A federal judge denied an effort by Sony Monday to overturn a jury verdict that awarded $90.7 million to Immersion over accusations of patent infringement. The ruling came after Immersion sued the PlayStation maker over the use of "haptic technology," which Sony calls DualShock.

Haptic technology is the term game manufacturers use to describe what makes game controllers vibrate in response to game activity. An Oakland, Calif. jury found Sony guilty of violating patents surrounding the technology in September 2004.

The DualShock feature is currently included in the PlayStation 2 and Sony may be forced to drop or modify such functionality for the PS3.


Sony attempted to have the jury's decision thrown out based on allegations that Immersion withheld information of earlier haptic technology inventions by a former consultant, Craig Thorner. Sony maintained that the information could have changed the outcome of the trial.

However, the judge said she doubted the reliability of the consultant's testimony. She also said a $150,000 payment by Sony to license his patents likely influenced Thorner's testimony that was given in support of the motion to overturn the trial, and it could have been viewed as a payment for positive testimony.

"The court finds that Sony has not presented clear and convincing evidence of misconduct by Immersion that would warrant a new trial," U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken wrote in her decision.

However, Immersion isn't planning on letting the matter stand as is. The company told the Wall Street Journal it is considering legal action against Sony for the alleged payment for testimony. Neither Thorner nor Sony would comment.

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