Global Game Industry News Blog

Monday, August 07, 2006

Patent Craziness

The thing about this sort of game between patent holder is that Nintendo already knows about the madness, and has many patents of its own. I suspect they can back up a prior art history for their controllers, but I'm curious about Microsoft, who I suspect hasn't been patenting this sort of thing, because it wasn't their territory, and to a large degree did copy what was out there.

Anascape is playing a dangerous game, because in all likelihood this will be harder for them to fight this case, unless the lawyer arguing it is doing it in the hopes of a settlement or a big win, neither of which seems in the cards. I've written previously about Nintendo's patents, and they've got plenty to make this claim look like the foo-faa it is.

GameDaily BIZ: Microsoft, Nintendo Hit with Controller Patent Lawsuit
Just when Microsoft and Nintendo thought they were safe from the madness that is the United States patent system, a Texas-based company called Anascape comes along and sues both console makers over 12 patents relating to video game controllers. As you may recall, Sony has already lost its battle with Immersion over a patent concerning force feedback technology. Many suspect the Immersion lawsuit to be the reason for the lack of rumble in the PS3 controller, but Sony contends otherwise.

Anascape filed suit against Microsoft and Nintendo in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas this past Monday. Anascape has accused the companies of infringing on a dozen different patents that were issued between 1999 and 2005. The patents seem to deal with almost every aspect of today's modern video game controller, such as analog controls, analog pressure sensors for buttons, vibration and tactile feedback, and more. One would think that Sony's PS2 controller would come into conflict with these patents as well, so it's not clear why Anascape has targeted Microsoft and Nintendo and has not included Sony in the suit.

Anascape is looking to be reimbursed for damages along with interest. The company also has requested a tally of the revenues that Microsoft and Nintendo have generated from the use of these 12 patents. Furthermore, if Anascape is not successful in having a judge issue a permanent injunction against Microsoft and Nintendo, the company wants a enforced licensing fee to be instituted.

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