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Nintendo: "We Refuse to Succumb to Patent Trolls"

Posted by James Newton

Wii Fit patent case dismissed

Rick Flamm, Nintendo of America's senior vice president of Legal & General Counsel, has spoken out against "patent trolls" after winning a third litigation case this year.

Californian firm IA Labs claimed that the Wii Balance Board and Wii Fit software infringed on U.S. Patent No. 7,121,982. IA Labs' patent covers:

A computer interactive isometric exercise system includes an effector, a sensor coupled at a selected location on the effector to measure a force applied by a user to the effector, where the applied force effects a strain on the effector, and control circuitry.

Patent images show a rowing machine-like apparatus, quite different from Nintendo's now iconic Balance Board. A Maryland U.S. District Court judge dismissed the lawsuit without the need for a jury trial, to which Flamm said:

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. We refuse to succumb to patent trolls.

Trolls everywhere.

Nintendo Prevails in Maryland Patent Suit

U.S. District Court Judge Says No Need for Jury Trial

REDMOND, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- For the third consecutive time this year, Nintendo has prevailed in a patent litigation in the U.S. A Maryland U.S. District Court judge has summarily dismissed a patent infringement lawsuit against Nintendo brought by IA Labs CA, LLC. IA Labs had alleged that the Wii Balance Board accessory and Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus software infringed on one of its patents (U.S. Patent No. 7,121,982).

“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. We refuse to succumb to patent trolls,” said Rick Flamm, Nintendo of America’s senior vice president of Legal & General Counsel.

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User Comments (37)

WaLzgiStaff

#2

WaLzgi said:

These trolls simply want $$$$ from Nintendo, and Nintendo said "no". End of story :D

misswliu81

#7

misswliu81 said:

yet another company trying to get one nintendo over silly lawsuits such as this one. and yet failed.

i agree with nintendo, they are trolls.

DarkKirby

#8

DarkKirby said:

The patent laws need to change. How can you allow patents for concepts of designs that don't work? Then they go on to allow people to use those patents of "ideas" to sue people with actual products? That's crap.

komicturtle

#9

komicturtle said:

Speak of trolls, did anyone read up the crazy lawsuit Apple won against Motorola? It was over a "bounce" animation that Motor had incorporated in there phones. Apple threw in some other nonsense about photo editing, pretty my much crying over a simalarity. My smart phone has a bounce animation, so I guess they should Sue LG too. Apple is also suing Kodak, right when the company is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Apple are the biggest patent trolls. And the sad thing is they are winning these cases. This article reminded me of the rediculous claim by Apple.

sillygostly

#12

sillygostly said:

I seriously hope that they are able to counter sue and take those trolls to the cleaners.

Ren

#13

Ren said:

Such is the nature of patents, though. How else could you protect your intellectual property in genuine cases then? There must be firm protection for any issued, detailed patent whether or not it 'works' or is ever sold for money (which is really just a judgment call). It makes for lots of silly cases like this but it also stands to protect smaller guys with real new ideas if they chose to patent early and can't afford to produce right away.

I can't imagine any other structure that would prevent these cases without crippling the rights of genuinely 'good' ideas getting the fair protection they deserve. It's only our litigious society that sours the policies, there will always be greedy opportunists and our media driven, and now internet heavy economy has just produced more of them, but the basic laws work as intended.

DestinyMan

#18

DestinyMan said:

This reminds me of the guy who sued Nintendo for "copying" his idea of a 3D handheld device. That one was tossed out too.

They must think they can get some cash from Nintendo and cause a ruckus when they know they can't win, thus earning the name, "troll" pretty well. Abuse of suing is a laughing stock now and cannot be taking seriously. Nintendo will get right back to work and let their lawyers like Kirby deal with these trolls.

DarkKirby

#22

DarkKirby said:

@warioswoods
Agreed. Apple doesn't want to change their donkey hole business practices of offering their customers poor choices for high prices which causes them to lose business to Andriod so they are trying to claim a monopoly on the right the make smartphones by suing all their competition instead of improving their business model and being more customer friendly to earn their customers back.

@Ren
You don't understand the problem. The patents used in "patent trolls" are not patents of functioning items, they are vague concepts of items that don't work or exist that are used to sue people with actual functioning products because they claim "they had the idea 1st". The problem could be solved if patents could only be made for items that you can prove function.

Mikau94

#23

Mikau94 said:

Now Nintendo needs to take out the 3rd party companies that sell fake controllers that are practically the same as theirs.

C-195

#24

C-195 said:

I still don't understand how you can patent an idea or theory, it goes against all logic and common sense! It's because of these patent laws that people like me have such a hard time.

Ren

#31

Ren said:

I'm just saying you have to look at the fundamental purpose of Patent laws. If you have a killer idea, would like to develop it and need time/ money it's really worth having protection to buy you that time or small players would be dominated by huge companies WITHOUT exception. In practice it means tons of opportunists take advantage of that law.
You can't tell me if someone has a fantastic design for a car that walks and runs on water and makes chocolate pudding they shouldn't have a right to patent it until they have a fully functioning vehicle that some judge thinks works really well. Even 'function' is subjective when you're talking about the early stages of a product/ invention. People have a right to come up with an idea make a design, and write up specifics of it's functions and uses and file a patent theres nothing absurd about that, just when people abuse that right.
Thomas Edison stole lots of invention ideas from independent tinkerers and patented them himself for profit. I'd rather not have that kind of strong arming going on from bigger/ powerful companies and patents are sometimes the only protection someone has.

StarDust4Ever

#32

StarDust4Ever said:

That reminds me, back in 2005, I filed a patent for a motion-sensing joystick that didn't require a base stand. I should probably go sue Nintendo for damages.

-Sarcasm

tiffwi

#34

tiffwi said:

Seriously, guys, read up on patent trolls. This is not just a term Nintendo made up, and it is a rampant problem. These trolls usually don't even file patents themselves, they just buy up patent portfolios. Then they try to find companies that offer products/services that might be covered under the patents they've bought. Next they file lawsuits for tens of thousands of dollars against any company they can find that might offer a product or service that could be covered under one of the patents they own.

In most cases, if a company fights the patent trolls' lawsuits, like Nintendo did here, they can win easily. Unfortunately, patent trolls also target small businesses, and often the cost of legal fees to fight the suit would be much higher than the amount the trolls are asking for, so even though they know they would win the case, they just have to pay up to avoid a costly court battle. In some cases, even just paying to make the lawsuit go away can bankrupt a business. It's disgusting and immoral, but it's also currently legal, so these trolls make good money mooching off of others' ideas. And what makes it even worse is that it also means they're scaring innovative people from wanting to share their ideas, because there is now always the fear that a patent troll might own a patent that covers some portion of your idea, and if they sue you, you'll have to pay up. It's really sad.

Dreadjaws

#35

Dreadjaws said:

@Ren

Well, then there should be a way for those who sue to prove they can actually build their device. You give them an estimated time and money for them to build their "invention" and if they can't or won't then they have to give the money back plus pay a fine or be counter-sued.

Also, your example with Thomas Edison doesn't precisely suit your point. If he stole the ideas and patented them himself how the heck was the law going to help the original inventors? It would help Edison, since he held the patents, for inventions he didn't come up with. This example actually proves the patent laws are messed up. Anyone can steal your idea, patent them themselves before you get a chance and you won't be able to sue because they have the patents.

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