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January 29th

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[10:53 AM]
Sony Confirms Rumors, Sues Connectix, Connectix Releases VGS Anyway
Confirming reports The Mac Observer reported on January 15th, Sony has filed suit against Connectix over the Virtual Game Station. The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that Sony had in fact filed a lawsuit. According to The San Francisco Chronicle:

"Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. yesterday filed suit claiming that a new software program that runs Sony PlayStation games on late-model Apple Macintosh computers infringes on its copyrights and intellectual property.

'We don't believe any software publisher or developer would be happy about the (Connectix product),' a Sony spokeswoman said. 'It does not accurately emulate the PlayStation gaming experience ... and is not fully compatible with all PlayStation game titles.'

In its complaint, Sony claims that Connectix's product 'circumvents' the PlayStation's anti-piracy policy that is designed to 'inhibit the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit software.'"

Sony is also seeking a temporary injunction that would prohibit sales of the Virtual Game Station until the matter was decided by the courts, a process which could take months or years.

Today Connectix responded by releasing Virtual Game Station 1.1 along with a statement about Sony's lawsuit.

"Connectix denies Sony Corporation's charges and intends to defend itself vigorously. 'We do not believe that we have violated any intellectual property rights in the creation or marketing of Connectix Virtual Game Station', [Roy McDonald, President and CEO of Connectix] added. 'Furthermore, as a software developer and publisher Connectix strongly opposes the use of illegal copies of our product or PlayStation titles. We have developed technology specifically designed to prohibit the use of pirated PlayStation titles with Connectix Virtual Game Station. We've worked hard to prevent use of pirated software and have added additional security technology into Version 1.1.'"

The new version of Virtual Game Station brings compatibility with more PlayStation titles. Virtual Game Station will play only 80 or so of the approximate 500 titles on the market. The software is priced at US$49.

The Mac Observer Spin: The gauntlets have been cast down by both parties. Sony has picked two angles of attack, the copyright and Intellectual Property issue as well as saying that VGS doesn't offer protection against pirated copies of PlayStation titles. For their part, Connectix told The Mac Observer that they had gone to great lengths to not infringe on any Sony Intellectual Property and had developed their emulation engine from the ground up.

Roy McDonald also told us in an interview that he and Connectix greatly admired Sony as a company that has produced remarkable products at great prices. While this may have been a ploy to earn sympathy, we feel the claim to have been honest. It also seems apparent that Connectix looked on VGS as an opportunity for developers and Sony (through Royalties from game titles) as well as Connectix itself to make more money from broadening the market base for the PlayStation. In a statement from Connectix:

"Naturally, we're disappointed that Sony has taken this initial step," concluded McDonald. "We greatly admire Sony, and in particular, its PlayStation product, and we hope that in time, we will be able to cooperate with them in marketing Connectix Virtual Game Station."

As we have also said in our past coverage of this issue, it is very possible that Sony is pursuing this course in order to show an effort to protect their Intellectual Property and copyrights. Their real goal may be only to force a licensing agreement from Connectix through a settlement from the company. Sony can certainly fight a lawsuit far longer than Connectix can.

One last thing: Apple was specifically not named in Sony's lawsuit but it will be very interesting to see if Apple helps Connectix in any way in their defense. As evidenced by Apple's demonstration of VGS at MacWorld Expo, Apple sees VGS as a way of making the Mac more of a gaming platform in the eyes of gamers. Do they see it as important enough to risk the wrath of Sony?

Sony - Connectix - Apple



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