The England and Wales High Court has ruled that Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U game consoles do infringe on two Philips remote control patents.
First, a little backstory. Phillips sued Nintendo back in 2012 and alleged Nintendo’s consoles infringed on three of its remote control patents. Today, the UK Court ruled that one of the three patents was invalid. But, amended versions of the other two were infringed upon.
These two patents concern a “user interface system based on a pointing device.” Specifically, the patents describe a computer system with a handheld pointing device with both a camera and a physical motion sensor. The device is used for hand-gesture commands to a fixed unit with the gesture analysis based on motion trajectory of the device. Philips says these patents also cover the use in playing games according to court documents.
Well, that sounds just like the tech in Nintendo’s Wii to me. Why pick on Nintendo though? Aren’t there other devices that would violate Philips’ patents? Other devices don’t use the same combination of sensors and gesture analysis according to the court. Nintendo does.
The Court gives the following example. “The Nintendo Wii system set up with Wii Tennis is an example of that combination and therefore infringes the claim,” the Court said.
What happens next? “It remains to be seen how this will proceed,” said a Philips spokesman. I would imagine Nintendo would like to avoid a prolonged court battle. A settlement seems to be the most obvious course. Nintendo will also probably wait and see how its other litigation with Philips plays out.
Today’s ruling is just one in a series of cases Philips has brought against Nintendo since 2012. They sued Nintendo over these same patents in Germany in 2012, France in 2013 and last month in the U.S. The U.S. case will be the one to watch since Philips is seeking a ban on U.S. imports and sales of the Wii and Wii U consoles. These three separate cases are still pending.