The widely popular Guitar Hero videogame series created by Activision Publishing, Inc. allows players to emulate their favorite rock guitarists, without requiring any actual guitar playing skill. However, this virtual reality was endangered last year by a threatened patent infringement lawsuit by guitar company, Gibson, longtime maker of iconic rock guitars such as the Gibson “Les Paul,” “SG,” “ES-335,” and “Flying V,” to name a few.
In January 2008, Gibson sent a letter to Activision, claiming that Guitar Hero infringed upon Gibson’s registered U.S. Patent No. 5,990,405 (the “‘405 Patent”). This patent covered "a system and method for generating and controlling a simulated musical concert experience." Gibson claimed that the Guitar Hero game controllers – miniature plastic replicas of Gibson guitars with no strings, and four buttons on the fret-board – infringed upon Gibson’s patent and required Activision to obtain a license from Gibson, or else halt sales of any version of the Guitar Hero game and controllers.