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Nintendo, Third Party Devs Face Exercise Game Patent Lawsuit
Nintendo, Third Party Devs Face Exercise Game Patent Lawsuit
November 22, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

Ohio-based Impulse Technology has brought a lawsuit against Nintendo and a number of third-party Wii game developers, accusing them of violating a 1996 patent on motion control technology.

The complaint [PDF, thanks Patent Examiner] cites Nintendo, EA, Ubisoft, Konami, Majesco, and Namco Bandai for violating Impulse's patent on an "interactive system for measuring physiological exertion."

That patent describes a system that measures movement using sensors attached to users' limbs, with data sent wirelessly to a monitor that shows an "interactively controlled" video sequence.

Impulse currently manufactures and markets the Trazer InterActive Fitness Machine, which uses a waist-mounted beacon to let a user control the position of an on-screen avatar in simple sports-themed games.

The suit alleges that games including Wii Fit Plus, Grand Slam Tennis, Zumba Fitness 2, Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 3 and UFC Personal Trainer infringe on the patent when used in conjunction with a Wii, Remote and/or Balance Board.

Earlier this year, Impulse brought a similar lawsuit against Microsoft and multiple Kinect game developers, citing additional patents it holds on movement tracking systems.

Nintendo has previously prevailed in multiple patent lawsuits regarding the novelty and utility of the Wii Remote.

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Nick Kinsman
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You know, this stopped being a novel, laughable thing a while back. At this point I'm just entirely confused how so many different companies can have so many different patents on which the Wii, Kinect, and Move can somehow infringe. Seriously ...


Martain Chandler
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I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Eric Geer
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Isn't this the same company that tried to sue M$ for Kinect and its motion tech?

Kyle Orland
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As noted in the piece: "Earlier this year, Impulse brought a similar lawsuit against Microsoft and multiple Kinect game developers, citing additional patents it holds on movement tracking systems."

Bryan Wagstaff
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It is an obvious troll lawsuit. The suit was filed 11/18/2011, the Wii released 11/19/2006. The deadline for timeliness is five years. They cite the release of the Wii itself as a violation.

In other words, they waited until the last possible moment (4 years 364 days) and filed suit against everyone that violated over the course of that time. They cannot reasonably claim they didn't know about the Wii and all those major games they listed in their claim and only happened to notice all of them at the 11th hour.

Apparently this patent troll isn't aware of the Doctrine of Laches. They seem to have committed a textbook violation.

The correct time to notify the companies and to request a license was when it was announced at E3 as the Revolution. Even if they waited until it hit retail they could have claimed it was a reasonable delay by not knowing about it. The correct approach would have been to discuss a license agreement that is followed up in court immediately if they felt it infringed.

Waiting five years (minus one day) after the official retail release date and claiming damages for the full five years and also suddenly requiring a license is disingenuous. Judges tend to ensure those backfire in a big way. By filing this lawsuit the way they did, they have practically given the companies involved a license for the cost of a (relatively small) lawsuit.

[Edit: Their earlier Microsoft lawsuit is in the process of quietly enjoying a similar death. Here's hoping the patent trolls end up bankrupt.]

Harry Fields
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Jesus.... this crap is getting beyond old and costing the industry too much. My left toe for true patent reform, software and otherwise!

Ashkan Saeedi Mazdeh
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it's really the time for reforming the patent laws. i don't think so that these general things should be patented. a movement tracking system which shows interactive video sequences on the screen is something like an idea and not something to be patented even if you have the machine, you should patent that and not the whole stuff.

Geoff Schardein
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I am thinking of getting a patent on firing of electrons which cause a contraction to exchange gases for the fueling a biochemical system that is Oxygen based, I call it "breathing". Seeing how the patent office allow patenting of the obvious I expect it will fly, I will just describe animals as biochemical mechanisms and then I will be able to sue all of the people and animals that dare to use my patent without compensation. Next I will move into liquid environments, hmm, maybe water to start...

Ian Williams
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Patent trolls should die off as companies.