Gibson Guitars vs. Guitar Hero

This photo is also the intellectual propertyof Gibson Guitars. Photo: iStockphoto

Last Friday, the guitarsmiths at Gibson expanded their legal campaign against video-game retailers to include Activision, Harmonix, MTV Networks, and Electronic Arts. All these companies were or are involved in the development or distribution of the video games Guitar Hero and/or Rock Band. The premise behind Gibson's lawsuits, apparently, is that in 1999 the company filed a patent related to “the use of technology to simulate a musical performance,” and therefore any and all music-simulation devices are patent infringements.

Now, obviously we’re not entertainment lawyers — we signed away the rights to Asian-market Blu-ray distribution of this post in exchange for a roast-beef sandwich — but this case, legally speaking, is dumb. It's as dumb as someone claiming he patented the concept of air guitar. We think this case should be thrown out of court immediately, on the grounds of dumbness. Maybe the judge should then impose a punitive order that the two sides collaborate to produce a game called Jurisprudence Legend played with controllers shaped like the scales of justice, as well as sequels including Bailiff Champion (in which two bailiffs compete to be the best bailiff), Jury Duty ("12 Angry Men … One Awesome Game!"), and Court Reporter (an old CD-ROM of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing in a new box). —Ben Mathis-Lilley

Gibson sues over "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" [Reuters]