Sony Computer Entertainment and its US division, Sony Computer Entertainment America, are suing Connectix over its Mac-based PlayStation emulator, Virtual GameStation (VGS), according to Japanese news agency Kyodo. When the software was released at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco earlier this month, many observers anticipated Sony would take legal action (see PlayStation emulator launched for Mac). Given that possibility, Connectix has moved very cautiously throughout the VGS' development and launch. The product was only on sale at Connectix's stand during the show -- a spokesman said it would not be available once the show had ended -- unboxed. And after the launch, it emerged numerous Mac-oriented Web sites had colluded with Connectix to prevent news of the product leaking out and becoming the target of a pre-emptive legal strike from Sony. Connectix's argument is that the VGS' was engineered without recourse to Sony intellectual property, Sony has no case against it. That said, the company originally suggested that since Sony only makes money from games, not consoles, Connectix could hardly be sued for damages relating to lost earnings. However, according to the Kyodo report, Sony has finally concluded that it does have a case against the developer. The suit, filed at the San Francisco Federal District Court, alleges Connectix has violated not Sony's intellectual property rights but its copyrights, too. However, Sony was unable to confirm that legal action had indeed been taken -- certainly the news conflicts with earlier reports that Sony had decided that it would not pursue Connectix through the courts. Does Sony have a case? Certainly, Connectix's arguments carry some weight, but having an unsure case has rarely stopped corporates using the courts to delay a product's release or even to bully the developer into abandoning that product. Yet it's hard to see how you can genuinely build as complex an application as an emulator without recourse to the emulated system's specifications and intellectual property -- it's simply not that easy a task. If Connectix chooses to fight, it will certainly make for an interesting battle. ® See also Apple to bid for PlayStation emulator outfit?
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