Nintendo has settled a lawsuit over its motion control system that could have resulted in an import ban on the popular Wii console in the U.S.
Nintendo was sued by Hillcrest Labs in August 2008 over four patent violations covering motion control technology and television-based “graphical interface software.” While the company sought a cash settlement through the lawsuit, it also filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission asking that Nintendo be barred from importing the Wii and Wii Remote into the U.S. The International Trade Commission judge was scheduled to rule yesterday but both companies requested that he end the case instead.
While it was never likely that the Wii would be banned from American shores, Nintendo was nonetheless probably eager to make this case go away quickly. Sales of the console, which once appeared invulnerable to conventional market forces and rational logic, have slipped dramatically and even the slightest possibility of a long and complicated disruption was probably enough to keep company executives awake at night. And unlike the usual “patent troll” lawsuits, Hillcrest appeared to be in a good position to cause trouble: It had not only developed the technology in question but also previously licensed it to companies including Logitech and Universal Electronics.
Despite settling the case, Nintendo continues to deny that it violated any of the patents in question. Terms of the settlement, including whether the console maker agreed to license the Hillcrest technology as a result, were not revealed.