Guitar Apprentice Makers Sue Ubisoft Over Rocksmith Patent-Infringement

The British rock band Rocksmith aren't the only ones suing Ubisoft over the French publisher's guitar game Rocksmith. Now, the folks who make the instructional guitar game Guitar Apprentice have filed claimed patent infringement against Ubisoft over tech similarities to their own game.

Both Guitar Apprentice and Rocksmith use a real guitar, plugged into a computer (or PS3) to help players get better at the instrument.

The Guitar Apprentice patent describes that game as a "Media system and method of progressive musical instruction," before going into an "abstract" detailing how the game will work:

A method is provided for progressive musical instruction using a media system with processor-executable software modules storing musical performances each having a plurality of segments. A first set of audiovisual signals is generated to simulate a predetermined musical instrument from a selected performance during host segments. The audiovisual signals are adjusted to mute the predetermined instrument during user segments (non-host segments) of the performance. During the host segments a second set of audiovisual signals is generated for demonstration of a preferred user operation of the instrument. The number of user segments may be maintained or increased for successive iterations of the performance, as the user becomes more proficient. The determination to maintain or increase user segments, and which segments are added to the user segments, may be user selectable or programmable by the system based on various criteria.

The gist is that Guitar Apprentice is a game where you play an instrument that generates real sound and blends that sound with pre-recorded performances to show players how to play. Which is indeed pretty much the same thing as Rocksmith.

Guitar Apprentice's patent is dated October 12, 2010, almost six months before Rocksmith made its debut in March of 2011. As Patent Arcade points out, both games are predated by games like Guitar Star and Guitar Rising. Seems to me that the pro-guitar interface in Rock Band 3 is also very similar, though just one small part of a larger game.

My knowledge of patent law is too limited to make any guesses about how this will shake out, but I'll be keeping an eye on it.

New Case: Guitar Apprentice v. Ubisoft [Patent Arcade via Eurogamer]