GAME CONSOLE VENDOR Microsoft and eight games publishers have been sued by a firm claiming that Microsoft's Kinect infringes some of its patents.
Microsoft's Kinect motion tracking system has been a sales success for the firm, garnering almost universal praise and helping the firm's Xbox division post a significant increase in revenue. However, Impulse Technology is claiming that Microsoft and some of the largest games publishers in the industry are infringing its patents that relate to motion tracking and gaming.
Impulse Technology claims it informed Microsoft of its patents, most of which are titled "System and method for tracking and assessing movement skills in multidimensional space" and seem to apply specifically to the domain of computer gaming. The patent applications were filed as far back as 1999 and, on the face of it, Microsoft might have to find a technicality in order to avoid paying royalties.
One of Impulse Technology's patents, patent number 6430997 granted 13 August 2002, claims, "The present invention provides a system for quantifying physical motion of a player or subject and providing feedback to facilitate training and athletic performance. A preferred system creates an accurate simulation of sport to quantify and train several novel performance constructs by employing: sensing electronics (preferably optical sensing electronics as discussed below) for determining, in essentially real time, the player's three dimensional positional changes in three or more degrees of freedom (three dimensions); and computer controlled sport specific cuing that evokes or prompts sport specific responses from the player."
With a patent like that and others of similar description, you can understand why Impulse Technology believes it has a case against Microsoft. If the company can make its claims stick then it could be in line to receive a boat load of cash.
As if going after Microsoft was not hard enough, Impulse Technology also cited Electronics Arts, Konami and Sega among eight games publishers that it claims infringed its patents. In the world of superfluous patent damage claims, Impulse Technology wants "permanent injunction, damages, treble damages, interest, attorneys' fees and costs". We ask, why stop at treble damages? Why not ask for a lifetime supply of beer while you are at it?
Microsoft has yet to comment on the allegations but, as it is no stranger to patent litigation, we're sure its lawyers are working out how to get around Impulse Technology's claims. µ