Court-ordered ban on PS console sales delayed for now.
SAN JOSE, Calif. — A judge has ordered Sony to pay $90.7 million to a company that develops technology to enhance video-game realism, but she immediately stayed an order that would have halted U.S. sales of Sony’s popular PlayStation consoles.
San Jose-based Immersion sued Sony in 2002, saying the Japanese company violated two of its patents, using them to create tactile-feedback features.
A federal jury in Oakland decided in favor of Immersion in September and ordered Sony to pay $82 million in damages.
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Thursday, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken affirmed the decision and tacked on $8.7 million in interest. She also ordered the sales ban but granted Sony an immediate stay pending its expected appeal.
Sony has already paid Immersion $7 million in license payments ordered by the court, It will continue to do so each quarter, based on sales of infringing products, until there is a reversal or settlement.
A Tokyo-based Sony official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the company plans to appeal.
“We have always believed, and continue to believe, in the strength of our intellectual property,” Immersion Chief Executive Victor Viegas said yesterday. “We remain confident of our position in the appeals process.”
Immersion was awarded far less than the $299 million it had sought in the suit against Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Computer Entertainment America.
It claimed PlayStation products infringed on patents related to “vibro-tactile” technologies that simulate the sense of touch in video-game play. The suit specifically names the PlayStation consoles, Dual Shock controllers and 47 games.
In news releases last year, Sony last year claimed to have sold more than 27 million PlayStation2 consoles in the United States, making it the No. 1 video-game machine. Last week, it launched a portable version, though Viegas said the new device does not appear to infringe on Immersion patents.
In 2003, Immersion settled another patent dispute with Microsoft over the Xbox video-game console. In the settlement, the software giant paid $26 million, including $6 million for a roughly 10 percent stake in the company.
In an interview yesterday, Viegas did not rule out a settlement with Sony but said previous discussions have gone nowhere.
“We had numerous discussions, but none of them have ever yielded a settlement, resolution or a solution to our problem,” he said.
He added the appeals could take 12 to 18 months.
Immersion, founded in 1993, has more than 270 worldwide patents and more than 280 applications pending related to software and hardware that use haptic technology, which simulates the sense of touch.
It also develops touch technology for use in medicine, cars and mobile phones.