Wii Patent Infringement: Court Rules Nintendo Does Not Infringe On Motion Control Patent

By Ural Garrett , Updated May 14, 2013 04:31 PM EDT
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Nintendo can claim a much needed victory today as the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the developer over a 2008 patent lawsuit filed by Motiva LLC.

According to court documents, Motiva alleged that Nintendo infringed on technology that featured "a system to track player position and movement" through its Wii console. 

Through the lawsuit, Motiva had to prove it had made "significant investment in plant and equipment," "significant employment of labor or capital" and "substantial investment in its exploitation, including engineering, research and development, or licensing." Court documents say that Motiva and Nintendo weren't even competing in the same market.

"Moreover, according to the ALJ, the Wii would not even compete with Motiva's potential products because they were in different markets. Motiva's product was an "expensive tool" designed for "exercise, athletic performance training, and physical therapy and research," the opinion read. "The Wii, though, was a "relatively inexpensive video game system for home consumers" that had games for exercising but would not "compete with the expensive and sophisticated fitness product envisioned by Motiva." 

The court ruling concluded that because Motiva was not concerned with taking swift actions to remove Nintendo from the market, it was only interested in extracting a monetary award either through damages or a financial settlement. Support for that claim came from emails between the inventors and the Ohio-based company.

"Motiva was never close to launching a product incorporating the patented technology," wrote Judge Sharon Prost in the opinion.

Nintendo says they are satisfied with the verdict.

"We are very pleased with this result. The court confirmed that Motiva's sole activity, litigation against Nintendo, did not satisfy the ITC's domestic industry requirement," said Richard Medway, Nintendo of America's deputy general counsel. "Nintendo has a passionate tradition of developing innovative products while respecting the intellectual property rights of others. We vigorously defend patent lawsuits when we firmly believe that we have not infringed another party's patent."

This year has seen the "house that Mario built" face a lot of court room drama. In March, a jury awarded inventor Seijiro Tomita $30.2 million in compensatory damages in relation to technology used in Nintendo's 3DS that provided 3D images without the need for glasses.

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