All-American Lawsuit (7/4/00)

It's Independence Day here in the colonies-- a distinctly American holiday, and so what better way to celebrate the Fourth than to partake of the national pastime? The crack of the gavel, the roar of the jury... sure, some wussies always say that it's too hot in early July to engage in active litigation, but those folks are obviously lacking that patriotic spirit. And for those of you who are going to try to tell us that baseball is this country's national pastime, we can only ask, where have you been for the past twenty years? Nope, in these thoroughly modern times, there are far more citizens filing lawsuits than swinging bats (at least, swinging them at baseballs), and we can only tactfully advise you to stop living in the past and get with the program.

If you need an all-American role model, just look at Sony. Yes, it's a Japanese company-- what's your point? Japan digs baseball, too, and the U.S. is a big ol' melting pot, yadda yadda yadda, and there's nothing more American than Sony's sudden flurry of legal action just before the Independence Day weekend. You are probably aware that the company filed a copyright infringement suit last year against Connectix upon the release of Virtual Game Station, software that lets people play several PlayStation games right on their Macs. A few months ago, the court cleared Connectix of seven of those nine copyright infringement charges and let the company start selling its product again; in response, Sony filed another suit alleging patent infringement. (If Sony loses the patent suit, sources tell us the next step is to slap Connectix with a "You Got Your Chocolate In My Peanut Butter" suit.)

Last week, though, was when things got really interesting. According to MacNN, right before the patent infringement case was to go to trial, Sony voluntarily dismissed all eleven claims. Sounds suspiciously like Sony never intended to go to trial at all, doesn't it? As in, maybe the suit was filed solely to make Connectix cough up legal fees out of spite? In any event, the Connectix staff sailed into the holiday weekend giddy with the knowledge that a mere two counts of copyright infringement were all that Sony still had over them. Time to kick back and wave the sparklers, right?

Wrong. That wily Sony was just funnin'. "Oh, yeah, we're dropping that patent infringement case... Psych!!" Because even as a jubilant Connectix was gearing up for the company barbecue, Sony celebrated the holiday by refiling its patent suit mere days after dismissing it. According to The Register, the judge overseeing the case was in on the prank; Charles Legge reportedly advised Sony to dismiss and refile its case in order to bypass "procedural issues that may have been unappealable." So Sony and the judge had a good ol' American laugh, and Connectix's lawyers will be working on their case by the light of the fireworks tonight. Happy Fourth, everyone!

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The above scene was taken from the 7/4/00 episode:

July 4, 2000: Sony drops its patent infringement case against Connectix-- for about eight seconds. Meanwhile, questionable images of Apple's new mouse make the rounds, and several clues hint that ATI may soon be supplanted by NVIDIA as Apple's OEM graphics chip manufacturer...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 2393: Function Over Form (7/4/00)   A few years back, Apple was gushing red ink in pulsing arterial spurts, the product line-up included such forgettable entries as the "Boxy And Beige" Power Mac 4400 and the "Doubles As A Hibachi" PowerBook 5300, and the company's future was in the hands of a wild-man visionary known as Gilbert Amelio...

  • 2394: ATI Out, NVIDIA In? (7/4/00)   Given that the Mac is a platform with such a long-standing reputation for graphics excellence, we've always found it a wee bit ironic that our options for graphics cards have always been rather limited...

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