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Microsoft Facing Lawsuit Over Kinect Technology

Virginia-based Intelligent Verification Systems has filed a complaint in federal court against Microsoft over the Kinect motion sensing device for Xbox 360 and Windows PC. The company is represented by Michael Mutter with Birch, Stewart, Kolasch & Birch in Falls Church, Va.

According to the lawsuit, the company's '073 patent, "Animated Toy Utilizing Artificial Intelligence and Facial Image Recognition," was issued in 2006. This patent protects expression- and facial-recognition technology with applications, and even notes that it's suited for video games, consoles, and other entertainment systems.

However Intelligent Verification Systems (IVS) also claims this invention is the first of its kind, that facial recognition technology was only used in the security sector prior to the patent. Microsoft's Kinect peripheral, which supposedly infringes on that patent, was first introduced on the Xbox 360 back in November 2010, around four years after the IVS patent.

The court filing states that lawyers representing IVS contacted Microsoft in a June 2011 letter, alerting the Redmond company about the patent infringement. But so far there has been no response, and Microsoft is currently making millions in increased revenue from the stolen technology (and reportedly storing a good chunk in offshore bank accounts to avoid taxes). To drive the stake in even further, IVS points out that Kinect even achieved a Guinness World Record as the "fastest selling consumer electronics device."

Microsoft isn't the only Kinect-related company within firing range. IVS also listed Majesco Entertainment in its lawsuit, as its game "Zumba Fitness Rush" benefits from the supposed stolen technology. Currently it's unclear whether IVS plans to go after other Kinect developers "benefiting from the infringement."

Naturally the company wants to see Kinect and Zumba Fitness Rush banned from store shelves, seeking an injunction. IVS also wants a written acknowledge from both companies within 30 days after the complaint was filed, a jury trial and treble damages – or rather, triple the amount of damages typically awarded in a similar patent infringement case.

As of this writing, Microsoft has not issued a statement.

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