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Nintendo loses motion control lawsuit to Philips
Nintendo loses motion control lawsuit to Philips
June 20, 2014 | By Mike Rose

June 20, 2014 | By Mike Rose
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Dutch electronics giant Philips has won a patent infringement case against Nintendo, with patents related to the Japanese manufacturer's Wii technology.

Philips had been trying to come to a licensing agreement with Nintendo back in 2011 over the motion tracking tech, stating that Nintendo had infringed on its own motion and gesture tracking system with its Wii console line.

But when Nintendo allegedly wouldn't play ball, Philips filed legal action against the company in various countries, including the U.S. last month.

Now Philips says that one of the four lawsuits that it filed in different regions of the world -- the lawsuit filed in the UK -- has been decided in Philips' favor.

"It's about a patent for motion, gesture and pointing control that we make available to manufacturers of set-top boxes and games consoles through a licensing programme," Philips spokesperson Bjorn Teuwsen told Reuters.

There has not yet been word on how this will affect Nintendo's Wii and Wii U consoles, nor did Philips give much indication of what sort of compensation they are looking for.

"We've requested fair compensation for the use of our patents," Teuwsen said.


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Comments


Michael Dougherty
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Something does not seem right with this ruling.

First of all, it appears the patents on which the case is based were not approved in final form until 2011 (which would explain why Philips did not start seeking a license before that time.

Second, the judge said that Sony's controller did not track motion but general descriptions of the Move talk about it having sensors.

My guess is that this gets appealed -- quickly.

Jeferson Soler
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@ Michael Dougherty - I agree with what you said. Plus, based on the wording of the claimed patents from Philips, they seem to have more to do with the technology from Sony and from Microsoft than from Nintendo. Even so, like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft shouldn't get any patent lawsuit from Philips and that's mostly due to the dates of the patents that Philips said that it had. In any case, just like you said, something does not seem right with this ruling, but fortunately, Nintendo gets a chance to appeal.

E Zachary Knight
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The approval date is not the date the patent is valid from. That is usually the priority date. So an earlier priority date would put it before the Wii's release.

Jeferson Soler
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@ E Zachary Knight - If priority dates do count, then Nintendo is still technically ahead of Philips as much of the technology behind the Wii Remote tends to be based on technology that Nintendo experimented with in the past, like the Kirby GBA game that used motion controls in limited form and the NES Zapper. The same may be true for Sony on having its own tech before it all came together, but in case of Microsoft, I'm not 100% sure (the company was mostly a software company in the beginning). Having said that, the patents that Philips claim to have have nothing to do with Nintendo technology, and while the patents sound similar to Sony's tech and Microsoft's tech, Sony and Microsoft can still find a way to not let Philips sue them. For one thing, Philips hasn't used the patents that it claims to have, especially for media entertainment purposes. That alone should give a strong case against Philips.

Now, the reason why Philips won this UK case (for now) is because Philips took advantage of the system. To understand more what I'm trying to say, here's the response from a Nintendo UK official that I got from Gameindustry International at http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2014-06-20-nintendo-loses-u
k-parent-ruling-to-philips:

"On 20 June 2014, following a trial heard before Mr Justice Birss, the UK Patents Court found that the Wii, Wii U and Wii Remote infringe two patents ('498 and '650) asserted against Nintendo by Philips Electronics. The '498 and '650 patents were held to be invalid as originally granted, but Philips Electronics were permitted to make validating amendments during the course of the litigation.

A further patent ('484) was asserted by Philips Electronics but was found to be invalid.

Nintendo firmly believes that the amended '498 and '650 patents are invalid and intends to seek permission to appeal Mr Justice Birss' judgment.

Philips Electronics has yet to make clear whether it intends to seek permission to appeal any part of the judgment.

Nintendo is committed to ensuring that this judgment does not affect continued sales of its highly acclaimed line of video game hardware, software and accessories and will actively pursue all such legitimate steps as are necessary to avoid any interruptions to its business.

Nintendo has a long history of developing innovative products while respecting the intellectual property rights of others"

Basically, the patents from Philips really had nothing to do with Nintendo's tech and were invalid, but because Philips was allowed to make validating amendments during the litigation, Philips could manipulate the system to make the ruling go in their favor. Fortunately, Nintendo has a chance to appeal, but let's look at the big picture in here. Even if Nintendo wins, Philips opened a can of worms in here and showed that the current patent laws are more problematic than expected. If things don't change with the patent laws, then anybody could do the same thing that Philips did to anyone or any company and that individual might get away with it.


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