Nintendo risks Wii ban in the U.S. over patent infringement lawsuit

16 May 2014, 2:59 am EDT By Alexandra Burlacu Mobile & Apps

Philips is suing Nintendo in Delaware, and the outcome may weigh hard on the gaming giant as it may see its Wii consoles banned in the U.S.

The stakes are high, and if Philips wins Nintendo is in for a lot of bad weather. The lawsuit refers to two patents, both of which relate to motion detection - the very thing that made Wii so popular.

The first patent refers to a "virtual body control device," i.e. a gadget that enables you to control your on-screen avatar by making it replicate your movements, moving as you do. While this may be easier to combat, the other patent hits closer to home.

The second patent references a "User interface system based on a pointing device," which refers to the Wii remote. This remote not only allows users to point it at things on-screen and make their desired selection, but it also plays a big role in letting your avatar know what you want it to do. More specifically, the avatar senses the remote controller and executes the action on-screen.

"Philips is a world-renowned company that has expended enormous efforts in recent decades to achieve advancements in research and development in various technological fields. Philips has engaged in the field of applied electronics and has conducted research in areas relating to visual representations of spatial processes and to automatic processes. The present patent-in-suit stem from these fields of research and development and claims protection for an interactive system for which a user can remotely control devices in an intuitive manner. Such intuitive remote control mechanisms are used in present-day home video game consoles," reads Philips' claim.

"Nintendo has made, used, sold, offered for sale, and imported within the United States products with interactive virtual modeling features, including but not limited to motion-controlled gaming consoles and motion-detecting devices. These products are hereinafter referred to in this Complaint as 'interactive virtual modeling products.'"

"Nintendo has made, used, sold, offered for sale, and imported motion-controlled gaming consoles and motion-detecting devices including the Wii console, Wii Remote PlusController, Wii Remote Controller, Wii Nunchuck Controller, Wii MotionPlus, Wii BalanceBoard, Wii U Console, Wii U GamePad, and Wii Mini console."

With this complaint, Philips is seeking a sales injunction, which could result in a ban on sales of all Wii consoles in the U.S. Moreover, the company also seems determined to skip any kind of mediation and go straight for a jury trial. Philips is also asking for back damages, a tripling of all damages, as well as interest on those damages both before and after the judgment.

The company filed this lawsuit on Thursday, May 15, and no motions have been filed so far. If Nintendo wants to continue selling its popular Wii consoles in the U.S., it may have to pay big time. 

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