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TAC Files Counter-Suit Against Red Octane

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the hard-to-be-a-rock-star dept.

The Courts 16

FCifaldi writes "In response to yesterday's report of Guitar Hero publisher RedOctane filing a trademark and copyright infringement lawsuit against The Ant Commandos over their wireless PlayStation 2 guitar peripheral, the controller manufacturer has responded with a countersuit of their own." From the article: "TAC filed its counter claim in the United States District Court for the Central District of California against both Activision and RedOctane, alleging that both companies are violating Federal Antitrust legislation pertaining to the Guitar Hero game and controller bundle. In addition, the counter claim goes on to allege that both Activision and RedOctane 'copied the identifiable trade dress of the controller from its developer and part owner of TAC, Topway Electrical Appliance, Co.' ... More specifically, the complaint alleges that the controller's design was copied by RedOctane (including its color, shape, and placement of the five fret buttons located on the controller), and that RedOctane developed Guitar Hero 'around Topway's identifiable trade dress.'"

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Stupid (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#16156265)

Red Octane's stuid had merrit. I saw that wireless contoller box the other day and I had to look hard for a while to see it wasn't a Red Octane product, it did look VERY similar.

On the other hand, bundling a peripheral that is required to play a game with the game it is used for is standard industry practice (see: Samba De Amigo, some DDRs, Donkey Konga, Sega Menacer, Super Scope 6, etc.). They aren't locking out other peripheral makers. They aren't saying "you can't make Guitar Hero controllers". They just want the box to look different so it's obvious that it isn't a Red Octane product.

This is stupid.

Re:Stupid (1, Offtopic)

Grym (725290) | more than 8 years ago | (#16156446)

"This is stupid."

It is stupid, but the controller company has a point. Go to your local video games store and look for a used copy of Guitar Hero. They'll probably have one. Now, look for a used controller--you probably won't find one. And you almost certainly won't find a controller that's sold unpackaged in a brick and mortar store. Red Octane has effectively forced most consumers to buy the game both new and bundled. Shouldn't generic companies be allowed to fill this void?

But, back to the patent, what is the innovation in the Guitar Hero controller patent? Is the shape of a guitar patented? Is the color/key combination design patented? Aren't BOTH derivative by their very nature? And if the patent is that basic (guitar shape and/or key position and color), how IS a company supposed to design a controller that is functionally compatible with the game without infringing?

Does it constitute a monopoly? Probably not, but Red Octane definitely didn't have consumers in mind when they filed this suit. And I say this as someone who absolutely loves rocking out with their game.

-Grym

Re:Stupid (3, Informative)

scd (541350) | more than 8 years ago | (#16156574)

Um, both Fry's and Best Buy where I live have boxes and boxes of additional, no-game-included controllers. More of those than the actual game+controller boxes.

Re:Stupid (1)

Some_Llama (763766) | more than 8 years ago | (#16157161)

Parent is right, otherwise to play multiplayer you'd have to buy 2 bundled copies of the game.

Re:Stupid (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#16157351)

But, back to the patent

What the fuck are you talking about? The parent post had nothing about patents in it. Neither does the article. The suit is about trademark and copyright infrigement, not patents. RTFA.

Re:Stupid (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#16157426)

I saw that wireless contoller box the other day and I had to look hard for a while to see it wasn't a Red Octane product, it did look VERY similar.

Are you blind? [theguitarmania.com] The box clearly says, with a big-ass logo: "TAC: the ant commandos: www.theantcommandos.com". The only reference to Guitar Hero on the box is either "Compatible with PS2 Guitar Game" or "Compatible with Sony PS2 Guitar Hero Game", depending on the model. There is absolutely no way that anyone looking at the box alone would come to the conclusion that it was made by Redoctane.

Re:Stupid (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#16157753)

That's not the box I saw. The one I saw was red and black and used a font very similar to the guitar hero box. It was WAY closer than that one (which I agree, is rather far off).

Re:Stupid (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | about 8 years ago | (#16170291)

Now if only I could find a pic of that box :(

Well I'd hope so.... (1)

imboboage0 (876812) | more than 8 years ago | (#16156267)

what did you want the box to look like? Was it NOT supposed to say guitar on it? Also, of course the actual controller is REALLY close to the same. They're made to play the same game. What the hell did they want, a controller that didn't look like a guitar? Disclaimer: I haven't seen either of the boxes.

Re:Well I'd hope so.... (1)

josteos (455905) | more than 8 years ago | (#16156395)

I have the TAC wireless guitar controller, as well as the Red Octane GH game/controller and a single extra SG controller. The Red Octance boxes are black with red flame highlights and lots of gothic printing. The TAC box is red, with lots of red flames and lots of gothic printing. At first I did think it was an official red octane wireless guitar controller, just red instead of black to signify the new version.

I haven't played withthe wireless enough to say if its worth it yet, but it does feel significantly different than a SG controller. Different enought hat I will have to spend some time relearning how to play - no biggie, its a fun game \m/

Identifiable trade dress? (1)

webrunner (108849) | more than 8 years ago | (#16156340)

http://www.topwaycn.com/ [topwaycn.com]
Does anyone see anything on the site that is identifiable topway trade dress? Between the completley original barrel bongos and completely original dance pads and the controller (advertised as 'fully compatable with Guitar Hero' even though RedOctane says that's false), I dont understand what they're trying to prove? That RedOctane went back in time from the future where topway controllers rule all to steal the idea?

they lose the lawsuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16157024)

This lawsuit cannot succeed on those terms. the button colors etc are part of the game, the button layout, in fact the guitar is incredibly rudimentary when you really analyze it. Per the law from Traffix Devices v. Marketing Displays Inc., and the progeny case Talking Rain v. SoBe, when design is integral to the function, trademark protection cannot apply under section 2.e.5 of the Lanham act

this is like... second year of law school stuff

the plaintiffs should sue their own lawyer for malpractice

Re:they lose the lawsuit (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16159285)

The same applies to the shapes on the PS2 controller buttons yet Sony managed to trademark them and force third party controller manufacturers to make strange changes (like interrupitng the lines).

Red Octane actively ordered guitars for testing (1)

BcNexus (826974) | more than 8 years ago | (#16157916)

I read an article in a software dev mag that the developers purchased dozens of guitars and used them to make the game. It wasn't till nearly when the game went gold did they have a custom manufactured guitar to go with the game. So red ocatane has nothing new. No damages warranted.

However, TAC's packaging features a font quite similar to Guitar Hero's packaging. Is that enough for damages?

Old 3rd party Guitar Freaks controller? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16158405)

Is topway the company that made the Guitar Freaks controllers back in the day that had 5 buttons? I'm surprised that either that company or Konami hasn't gotten in on this, although I imagine Red Octane had the foresight to settle that before starting Guitar Hero

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16160359)

The Guitar Hero controller is a complete rip-off of the Guitarmania controller. I think it's a bit cocky of them to do this, when they stole their own game mechanics from another companies game!
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