Last week Nashville-based Gibson Guitar filed a patent infringement lawsuit against MTV Networks, Harmonix and Electronic Arts, makers of the popular Guitar Hero video games. Gibson claims that Guitar Hero violates a 1999 patent for a similar technology. The patent in question appears to be No. 5,990,405, System and Method for Generating and Controlling a Simulated Musical Concert Experience, issued on November 23, 1999. The inventors listed on the patent are Don R. Auten of Nashville, Richard T. Akers of Antioch, Tenn. and Richard Gembar of Mt. Juliet, Tenn. According to press reports, sales of Guitar Hero have earned more than $1 billion since its release in 2005. Since 1976 Gibson Guitar has received about 90 patents, roughtly 40 percent design and 60 percent utility.
Gibson was founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1902 by Orville H. Gibson. It was originalyl called the Gibson Mandolin Guitar Mfg. Co. Gibson was issued at least one patent for a mandolin, No. 598,245, in 1898. He was hospitalized several times for mental illness and died in a psychaitric hospital in upstate New York in 1918.