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After losing patent suit, Nintendo plans appeal
After losing patent suit, Nintendo plans appeal
June 23, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

June 23, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

This past Friday it emerged that Nintendo lost a patent lawsuit against Dutch electronics giant Philips in the UK -- one of four countries where the company has sued Nintendo for patent infringement.

The patents concerned govern motion control technologies; the two companies had been negotiating about them since 2011. Nintendo isn't taking the loss lying down, however, and plans to appeal the verdict. Nintendo of America has provided this statement from Nintendo of Europe regarding the case to Gamasutra:
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.

Nintendo has prevailed in several patent lawsuits in recent years, most recently in May and also earlier this month.

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Jeferson Soler
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The statement (which I read about on Gameindustry International) is something that I commented about on another Gamasutra article. Based on the statement, the patents from Philips were indeed invalid, but because the company was allowed to make validating amendments during the litigation, Philips took advantage of the opportunity to make the ruling go in its favor. Even if Nintendo wins the appeal, that still doesn't change that Philips opened a can of worms in here. I'll admit that Philips didn't do this alone and the blame should be more towards the UK judge, but can you imagine how many patent trolls will now try to do the same thing that Philips did if they are given the opportunity to do so? This is looking at the big picture and at how much the patent laws need to be changed for the better.

Luke Shorts
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From a legal point of view, the English judge did not have any choice in the matter. According to European law, in proceedings relating to the validity of a European patent (which the three patents asserted by Philips were) the patentee has the statutory right to limit the patent by amending the claims. Furthermore, if a judge finds that the grounds for invalidity affect a patent only in part, he may not revoke the patent in its entirety.

In any case, Philips was not free to change the claims of the patent as they saw fit: they could change the claims only if i) they had a basis for such amendments in the application as originally filed and ii) if the resulting claims had a narrower scope of protection than the granted claims. These conditions are typically enforced very strictly. So it's not like you can go to court with one patent and then shift the goalposts arbitrarily so as to make the defendant guilty of infringement of something completely different.