Microsoft Sued Over Kinect Patent Infringement

Dennis Faas's picture

Ohio-based firm Impulse Technology has sued Microsoft for allegedly ripping off the idea behind the Xbox Kinect, Microsoft's new and very popular hands-free gaming peripheral for the Xbox 360 video game console. According to Impulse, Microsoft infringed on its patents for motion-sensing technology.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this month in the U.S. District Court in Delaware, says Law 360, an American online media company that tracks and publishes legal news.

Big-Time Game Companies Named in Suit

The suit also names a number of popular video game makers, including Ubisoft (responsible for titles like Splinter Cell and Assassin's Creed), Namco Bandai (Demon's Souls, Tekken), Electronic Arts (Madden, Battlefield: Bad Company), Konami (Metal Gear: Solid, Castlevania), as well as THQ, Sega, Majesco, and Harmonix. All of these companies have produced games for the Kinect since its release last fall. (Source:

According to Impulse, the violated patent covers technology to track player actions in three dimensions and replicate that movement on-screen. Impulse is reportedly seeking damages from Microsoft and hopes a court will agree to impose an injunction that keeps Microsoft from continuing to use and profit from the technology behind Kinect.

Impulse also says that it warned Microsoft in March about the infringement, though it's not clear what kind of reply might have been offered. No doubt it was not to Impulse's liking. (Source:

Another David v. Goliath Patent Lawsuit Ahead?

Although both Impulse and Microsoft have remained rather quiet on the lawsuit, a spokesman for the Redmond-based software firm did say this in a recent statement:

"While we can't comment about this specific case, Microsoft invests heavily in protecting our intellectual property rights and has hundreds of pending and issued patents covering Kinect."

Thus, it's possible we might soon see another David v. Goliath patent lawsuit similar to that carried out between Microsoft and Toronto-based software company i4i last year. In that case a squabble over XML patents in the popular Word program resulted in a massive victory for the i4i, and despite several appeals Microsoft was unable to overturn the decision.

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