Sony’s latest video game console, the PlayStation 4, was released last Friday in North America. The launch was successful. Very successful. In fact, Sony sold more than one million units in the first 24 hours of the launch. It is an impressive figure that is sure to be a record and marks a strong start for Sony in this new console race.
However, Sony will not have long to enjoy last week’s success. Microsoft is set to release this Friday what many gamers consider to be the PS4’s direct competitor, the Xbox One. Both the PS4 and the Xbox One feature impressive technological capabilities, an extensive game library, and versatile multimedia capabilities. At the time of this writing, it is anyone’s guess which will win the hearts and dollars of the world’s gamers.
Of course, there is a third horse in this console race. The Wii U, the successor to Nintendo’s successful Wii console, was in fact the first horse out of the gate in this gaming generation. The Wii U was released last November and like the PS4 and Xbox One features high definition graphics and multimedia features. The Wii U’s sales were low initially but are currently on the rise due to the strong hold Nintendo has on the youth and casual gaming markets.
So why should the legal community care about this latest generation of video game consoles?
Why shouldn’t they?
In particular, this writer advises the copyright and trademark attorneys out there to keep an eye on this new generation of consoles. They are making it easier than ever to share user created content and media online. For example, the PS4 has a dedicated “share” button on its controller intended to help gamers record video of their in game achievements and other content. It is not unforeseeable that the lion’s share of this content will be protected intellectual property. Sony may very well find itself defending against contributory liability claims before the dust settles on its successful console launch.
Sound familiar? Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417 (1984)