Ubisoft Sued Over Rocksmith

Ubisoft Sued Over Rocksmith

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The makers of Guitar Apprentice claim that Ubisoft's Rocksmith infringes upon its patent for "a system for progressive musical instruction."

Rocksmith is an unusual take on the music game genre, in that it allows players to use real electric guitars to control the game and can even teach them a thing or two about actually playing an instrument. But that's a bit of a problem for the team behind Guitar Apprentice, which has filed a copyright infringement suit against Ubisoft in a Tennessee court.

The Guitar Apprentice patent claims "a system for progressive musical instruction comprising: a processor-readable memory medium having software residing thereon, the software executable by a processor to direct the performance of generating audio signals corresponding to a predetermined musical performance, the audio signals in a first operating mode including prerecorded sounds from each of one or more musical instruments associated with the musical performance, the audio signals in a second operating mode including sounds from said instruments with the exception of a predetermined musical instrument; generating display signals corresponding to the musical performance, the display signals arranged to provide musical instruction to a user relating to playing of the predetermined musical instrument during at least the second operating mode; and in association with successive iterations of the musical performance, incrementing a duration of the second mode and decrementing a duration of the first mode."

It's a mouthful, and that's just the first of 18 claims in U.S. Patent 8,119,896, "Media system and method of progressive musical instruction," which Guitar Apprentice claims Rocksmith is treading on. As Patent Arcade points out, however, the filing was only made in October 2010, which could lead to a dispute over its validity based on the existence of prior art. It cites the example of Guitar Rising, a similar but apparently defunct game which Wikipedia claims actually led to the development of Rocksmith and which showed off a playable demo at the Independent Game Conference in November 2009.

Ubisoft is also caught up in legal action with a U.K. band by the same name, which could actually delay the game's European release, currently expected to happen in September. Rocksmith was released in North America on October 18, 2011.

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Oh no? I mean this is bad? right? people play this?

If this is copyright infringement, so is Rockband infringing on Guitar Hero, Halo infringeing on Doom, Command and Conquer infringeing on Dune, etc. etc.

The copyright business is out of date and really needs reform

and you wonder why companies don't take cool risks more often

God the patent system is so broken. Why do they let people file such vague, sweeping claims in the first place?

Every time a patent troll files a lawsuit, a kitty dies. Why do these douchebags hate kitties so much? :(

The pettiness factor just went all the way to eleven.

They use guitars!! Lets sue them for patents as well!

Seems Ubisoft should win this, it seems plausible the Guitar Apprentice guys could have patented the games core mechanic after Guitar Rising was never released.

razer17:
If this is copyright infringement, so is Rockband infringing on Guitar Hero, Halo infringeing on Doom, Command and Conquer infringeing on Dune, etc. etc.

More accurately, C&C would have been ripping off Dune II. Some bonus material in the First Decade pack confirmed that the gameplay was inspired by Dune II.

Grrr. Under all the stupid technospeak, that patent says they're using a console to play a tune and assess your ability to replay it. THAT IS NOT NOVEL IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM. It is, in fact, the most obvious thing imaginable for teaching any given subject.

That's disappointing. I had hoped for some kind of masonry/blacksmithing game from the title.

And, y'know, copyright's a bitch and all that.

Suicidejim:
That's disappointing. I had hoped for some kind of masonry/blacksmithing game from the title.

And, y'know, copyright's a bitch and all that.

I would so be down for a blacksmith game where it came with a hearth, anvil, hammers/tools etc. and some raw materials.

And that's why the current patent system is almost as broken as the current copyright system. Both were created in different times, based on assumptions which no longer hold.

robert022614:
Oh no? I mean this is bad? right? people play this?

I do play it, and it's awesome (aside from a few bugs). I don't think this lawsuit will be bad news for the players though.

But if, for some farfetched reason, it does delay the release of the Judas Priest DLC that should come out next week, I'll have to organize a group to take down these patent trolls.

robert022614:
Oh no? I mean this is bad? right? people play this?

It's actually a cool setup for guitar instruction.

I know I'm breaking the cool factor of "lol music games," but still.

razer17:
If this is copyright infringement, so is Rockband infringing on Guitar Hero, Halo infringeing on Doom, Command and Conquer infringeing on Dune, etc. etc.

The copyright business is out of date and really needs reform

None of those would actually violate copyright. Of course, we're talking patents, which are different from copyright. It's okay, I know a lot of people don't understand the difference between the three major forms of intellectual property.

As far as I know, there is no patent on first person shooter mechanics in general. Specific mechanics, perhaps. I couldn't even find one of those, though I was looking specifically for FPS mechanics or devices. Rock Band was made by the creators of Guitar Hero, so they would be infringing on their own rights. Can't speak on the Dune/Command and Conquer thing, since I don't know what they're supposedly infringing on.

KeyMaster45:
God the patent system is so broken. Why do they let people file such vague, sweeping claims in the first place?

It's not vague OR sweeping?

DVS BSTrD:
The pettiness factor just went all the way to eleven.

I think they patented eleven. You're going to need a bigger ten.

Suicidejim:
That's disappointing. I had hoped for some kind of masonry/blacksmithing game from the title.

And, y'know, copyright's a bitch and all that.

Locksmith would be an awesome kinect title.

TUMBLER POWER READY!

Captcha: One Hit Wonder. Heh.

Yeah going to be kinda pissed if this PC version is AGAIN delayed. This is the only game that I have been even remotely willing to break my "no ubisoft" stance against predominantly for the recognition software involved.

I know things are a bit dire for the gaming industry in the UK, but this seems a little petty.

robert022614:
Oh no? I mean this is bad? right? people play this?

I play it almost every day actually.
Shame about the lawsuit. As if Rocksmith didnīt have enough of those already.

Oi, escapist, what the fuck? Who said you were allowed to publish content on the internet? I applied for the patent years after you started doing it!

Zachary Amaranth:
It's not vague OR sweeping?

It's not really vague, but it certainly is sweeping. It's also painfully obvious, as they're merely placing simple, ancient teaching techniques on a console.

Nintendo should be suing the both of them if "musical instruction" is the basis of the argument. I learned the basics of composition from Mario Paint.

What -- no "patent troll" tag?

razer17:
Command and Conquer infringeing on Dune

Ah, no, not that example, really. Same devs, you see.
However, your point is correct. You could totally argue nearly that every game is just a "copy" of an older game, just a bit different.

Pyrian:

Zachary Amaranth:
It's not vague OR sweeping?

It's not really vague, but it certainly is sweeping. It's also painfully obvious, as they're merely placing simple, ancient teaching techniques on a console.

That's really not "all" they're doing at all.

Zachary Amaranth:
That's really not "all" they're doing at all.

Sure it is. Read the patent.

"a system for progressive musical instruction comprising:" a teaching game

"a processor-readable memory medium having software residing thereon, the software executable by a processor" on a computer/console

"to direct the performance of generating audio signals corresponding to a predetermined musical performance, the audio signals in a first operating mode including prerecorded sounds from each of one or more musical instruments associated with the musical performance, the audio signals in a second operating mode including sounds from said instruments with the exception of a predetermined musical instrument;" in which you listen to and play along with music

"generating display signals corresponding to the musical performance, the display signals arranged to provide musical instruction to a user relating to playing of the predetermined musical instrument during at least the second operating mode;" with the notes displayed on the screen

"and in association with successive iterations of the musical performance," played repeatedly

"incrementing a duration of the second mode and decrementing a duration of the first mode" with increasing difficulty

That is extremely sweeping, with vast quantities of prior art (I could even cite Monkey Island's banjo duel), and nothing novel whatsoever. Such a thing should never be granted a patent.

 

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