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.