Nintendo Loses Controller Lawsuit

Nintendo Loses Controller Lawsuit

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Nintendo executives are going to have to start looking under the couch cushions for spare change following a $21 million ruling against the company in a lawsuit over its GameCube and Wii controllers.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2006 by Anascape, a small Texas-based company that claimed that Nintendo's designs for its Wii Classic, WaveBird and GameCube controllers infringed upon 12 patents granted to Anascape covering technologies including analog sensors and feedback and vibration mechanisms.

A federal jury ruled in favor of Anascape yesterday, and ordered Nintendo to pay $21 million in damages.

Charlie Scibetta, a representative for Nintendo, said the company would appeal the decision, and expects the court to reduce the amount of the award "significantly," according to an AP report. He added that Nintendo was pleased the jury found no infringement in the use of motion-sensitive technology in its Wii Remote and Nunchuk controllers.

Along with Nintendo, Anascape also sued Microsoft over its Xbox 360 controllers, but Microsoft elected to settle with Anascape before the start of the trial. Anascape's suit originally sought damages with interest for the patent infringement, as well as a permanent injunction barring both companies from further use of the technology, or, failing that, a payment of "license fees" for the two companies to continue using the technology.

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Wow Anascape are being real dickheads, I mean just google them, they have no products on the market whatsoever. I can understand arguments over patents, but why does Anascape even have a patent if it hasn't made the product?

And why the HELL aren't they going after Sony for its controllers? Don't the PS1-3 controllers have feedback/vibration? I know the PS2 does (I have one).

They already did didn't they? Isn't this the company that sued the pants off of Sony about the PS3 controller and got them to take out the vibration function?

Another company sued Sony, though I can't recall the company's name at the moment.

This is....amazingly retarded. I'm starting to get sick of patent laws, because these guys, with absolutely no product, are assuming that Nintendo intentionally peaked at their patents to steal the technology. Something makes me doubt that's how it happened.

Skrapt:
Wow Anascape are being real dickheads,

Is that because they are going after your favourite companies?

Quite simple. If someone has produced something give them credit. Wouldn't you be annoyed if someone took credit for something you made?

This made me giggle. Go on, have at 'em!

The sheer audacity of going up to both Microsoft and Nintendo and saying "oi, you nicked me ideas you sod, fork over!" and getting away with it is fantastic.

nightfish:

Skrapt:
Wow Anascape are being real dickheads,

Is that because they are going after your favourite companies?

Quite simple. If someone has produced something give them credit. Wouldn't you be annoyed if someone took credit for something you made?

Have they produced something? Or have they just taken advantage of the patent system and patented the technology without producing anything?

Eh, another company playing dog-in-the-manger with patents rather than actually, you know, getting in the marketplace. It's all fair and legal to go bonzo with patents you don't intend to use, but just because they're targetting the large (and thus evil... :B) companies doesn't mean it's any less obnoxious.

Patent Farming, it's an unfortunate part of the gaming industry.

"covering technologies including analog sensors and feedback and vibration mechanisms."

Oh thats just fucking petty. What next ? some twats gonna sue them for having shoulder buttons ?
OH NOES X O ∆ are copyright of sesame street now ?
Oscars getting a payday. Now he can afford that nice roomy dumpster hes always wanted.

Patent trolls are an inescapable part of the tech business, unfortunately.

You don't have to put things on the market. If you've created a tech and are putting it towards something not yet released etc

nightfish:
You don't have to put things on the market. If you've created a tech and are putting it towards something not yet released etc

Excuse me, but this is incredibly nave.

These features are rather well spread, and there's much money to make on them through the classic ways. How many controllers have been sold which included those features? How many more for the years to come?
So what are the chances that you won't try to exploit such a technology you've invented, trying to sign deals with hardware manufacturers?

Extremely slim, to say the least. There'd be no logic in that. Any company that cherishes its creativity, ingenuosity, wants to live from it.

Now, what are the chances that these guys have bought the patents, just to wait for some big ass company to come with something close or very close, and that without ever producing anything with those very patents?

Huge.

That's patent trolling 101.

Meh, they're all dicks... I'm gonna go back to my 'happy place' now. The real world's not cool anymore...

In the event that anyone wants to know what went down:

http://news.justia.com/cases/featured/texas/txedce/9:2006cv00158/97919/

You can access all pertinent court documents from the lawsuit there. Public disclosure laws and all that. Here's the analog pressure sensor patent (one of several, but the biggest violation) he sued over, posted in 2000:

http://www.google.com/patents?id=i4EDAAAAEBAJ&dq=Game+Controller+with+Analog+Pressure+Sensor

And yeah...this seems like a situation of asshole #1 and asshole #2 duking it out.

The problem is that most people have forgotten what patents were created for. The idea behind a patent was to make it easier for people to develop products and services that bettered people's lives. It did this by ensuring the inventor had the ability to prevent other people from stealing their ideas, so therefore motivation to go ahead and create.

What is increasingly missing in these patent suits is any proof that the defendant actually stole the ideas and didn't independantly derive them. With all patents being published openly, that's something that's extremely difficult to prove. So someone can have an idea, patent it, do absolutely nothing with it, and then claim infringement later even though there's no indication that the patent fulfilled the objective of the system -- ie, caused a product or service to be developed that bettered people's lives.

Currently, the system protects the person who patents the idea first, not the person who actually betters people's lives with it first. In the past, that wasn't as much of a problem because the two were almost always the same. Things have changed, so our system needs to change as well.

But the solution is actually very simple. We just need to stop making patents anonymously accessible and track who accesses them. If we require that in order to view a patent a person or company has to register with the patent office, and ensure the system tracks what patents they look at, then patent infringement plaintiffs could then be required to demonstrate that the alleged infringer had some reasonable means of accessing their idea, say if they'd already released a product to the public that the defendant could have seen, or if the defendant had accessed their patent material.

Thus, the system would then shift the protection away from the initial inventor to the initial independant inventor who actually helped society with it.

Kwil,
It's not that simple.
How can you prevent someone hired by an interested company accessing the patent and then copying/explaining/delivering the information to the company? How can you prove/disprove that was done?
What happens if the original patenter goes into financial problems and isn't able to cash in on the patent for three years... should the patent expire?

wait, they put out the patent in 2006?
vibration technology has been out much longer than that!
you can't just file a copyright claim on something after someone has already invented it.

Wow, this is one hell of a necro mate

OT: Well good for Anascape

Out of curiosity, what does this mean exactly for Nintendo in terms of the Wii controller? Do they have to change anything? I ask because I didn't even know any of this was going on so I might be misunderstanding the situation..

OK, wow. Old topic...
And it's been 3 weeks since it was necro'd too.
Oh... What the hell. ;p

So... Somebody linked to the actual patent that was violated.

And now I see why Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo were all hit with it...

(patents are a funny thing though. The Snes controller is patented, yet just about everybody has ripped it off and gotten away with it. Or the first analog stick for that matter.)

In any event, this patent case seems to be about the use of analog buttons.
Eg, the shoulder buttons on the Gamecube and Wii classic controllers, as well as pretty much all of the buttons on Playstation controllers since the PS2, and the shoulder buttons on the Xbox 360.

A dodgy case, since there's no evidence of the company itself ever attempting to do anything with it, but they've had it since 2000...

snowfox:
Out of curiosity, what does this mean exactly for Nintendo in terms of the Wii controller? Do they have to change anything? I ask because I didn't even know any of this was going on so I might be misunderstanding the situation..

Not all that much. The Wii controller isn't covered by the patent claim.
The patent is basically for controllers with analog buttons (eg. Analog triggers).

That means it covers the PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360, Gamecube and Wii Classic controllers.

However, neither the Wii remote or nunchuk have any analog buttons, so they're not affected.

armageddon74400:
wait, they put out the patent in 2006?
vibration technology has been out much longer than that!
you can't just file a copyright claim on something after someone has already invented it.

It's not a claim relating to vibration technology. It's about analog triggers. And it's a patent from 2000.
I guess it just took 8 years to resolve the court case?

 

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