One of our readers has pointed out a new press release stating that the Supreme Court has refused to even see the lawsuit that Sony has brought against Connectix regarding their PlayStation emulator Virtual Game Station. While Connectix has won this round by default, Sony still has one lawsuit that will be heard sometime in March 2001. Here's the Supreme Court's reply on the case:
WASHINGTON--Sony today lost a U.S. Supreme Court bid to limit rivals from using reverse engineering to create competing products. Make sure to give the demo a try, it is well worth it!
The justices, without comment, refused to consider Sony's appeal of a decision rejecting its copyright claims against Connectix, whose Virtual Game Station competes with Sony's top-selling
PlayStation game console.
Sony contends that closely held Connectix designed its Virtual Game System only by pirating Tokyo-based Sony's software. Sony and other electronic game makers argued that the San
Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave short shrift to the copyright interests of companies that create innovative electronic products.
''The 9th Circuit rule permits free-riding competitors to siphon off the originator's fair return soon after the original is released," Sony argued in its appeal.
Sony drew support at the high court from fellow game makers Nintendo and Sega, as well as a software industry trade group.
Connectix, based in San Mateo, Calif., urged the Supreme Court not to get involved. The company called the 9th Circuit decision ''mainstream and unremarkable.''
Sony says it spent three years and $500 million to develop PlayStation and now faces direct competition from a company that spent only $150,000 in development costs. The Connectix Virtual
Game System lets personal computers run games designed for PlayStation.
Sony doesn't contend that Connectix's Virtual Game System itself infringes the Japanese company's copyright. Instead, Sony argues that Connectix developed its product only by copying crucial,
copyrighted PlayStation software, known as the basic input-output system, or BIOS.
Although Connectix eventually created its own version of the software, it couldn't have created the Virtual Game Station without first copying Sony's BIOS, the appeal stated.
The 9th Circuit said Connectix's activities were protected under the ''fair use doctrine,'' which permits copying of software when necessary to understand the way a program works.
Sony argued the lower court took that doctrine too far, permitting "wholesale copying of computer programs undertaken to produce software that simply emulates the copied program in order to
Connectix said the 9th Circuit decision is consistent with rulings from other courts and a new federal law that endorses reverse engineering of software.