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As reported by the IP Law Bulletin, Sony and Immersion are back in court:

Sony has accused Immersion of fraud, alleging the company withheld statements from the inventor of the technology in question. Immersion fired back, saying Sony has initiated a smear campaign and accusing the company of misconduct.

In July, Sony Computer Entertainment filed a motion before Judge Wilken seeking relief from the final judgment on the grounds of alleged “fraud” and “newly discovered evidence” of purported prior art which Sony Computer Entertainment contends Immersion concealed and withheld.

“Immersion disputes and intends to vigorously defend itself against these allegations,” Immersion said in a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

A hearing has been set for Nov. 4, at which time the various motions for discovery filed by both parties will be consolidated and heard by a California district court judge.

The misconduct allegations are the latest development in an extended legal battle that began over vibrating videogame controller technology.

In September 2004, a federal court awarded Immersion, a relatively unknown electronics developer, $84 million in damages after ruling that Sony infringed its patents for a technology that lets video game controllers vibrate in-sync with on-screen effects.

Sony appealed the decision, but the final judgment upheld both the infringement ruling and the monetary award. In addition, the court awarded Immersion $8.7 in prejudgment interest. The judge also ordered an injunction against Sony PlayStation controllers that used the infringing technology.

Sony appealed both the decision and the injunction in the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The lower court judge stayed the injunction while the federal appeals court processed Sony’s claim, ordering Sony to pay 1.37% in compulsory licensing fees for the duration of the stay.

Sony also appealed the compulsory licensing fee in federal appeals court.

Immersion had sued both Sony and Microsoft, claiming that Sony's controllers for its PlayStation and PlayStation 2 console, as well as Microsoft's Xbox controllers, infringe two of Immersion's patents on its sensory feedback technology.

The Sony and Microsoft video game consoles have controllers that rumble and vibrate in conjunction with certain events, like explosions, in some of their video games.

Microsoft later settled the case out of court, agreeing to pay $26 million to Immersion.
In July of last year, Microsoft said it would pay Immersion $20 million to obtain licensing rights to the touch-based technology and $6.million to buy a 10% stake in the small company.

In 2001, Immersion settled another lawsuit over similar technology against InterAct Accessories, the largest distributor of gaming accessories in the U.S.

Immersion is represented in this matter by attorneys for Irell & Manella LLP. Sony is represented by Weil Gotshal & Manges.

The case is Immersion Corporation v. Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. et al, case no. 4:02-cv-00710, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
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