News Article

Dallas Tech Company iLife Thinks Nintendo Stole Its Idea For Motion Control

Posted by Damien McFerran

Federal lawsuit has been filed by the firm

A Dallas-based technology company has filed a federal lawsuit against Nintendo claiming that the Japanese video game manufacturer has violated six of its patents by including motion-sensing tech in its Wii and Wii U consoles.

iLife Technologies and Solutions — which claims to invent "innovative technologies to solve critical problems" — feels that Nintendo's products not only infringe on its patents, but "are not capable of any substantial non-infringing use." iLife is seeking monetary damages and a permanent injunction preventing Nintendo from infringing on its patents again in the future.

It's not entirely clear what products iLife creates — its website is suspiciously devoid of content — and this has led some to brand the company a "patent troll". Take into account the fact that iLife has already filed seven suits against other firms since December 2012 and it's easy to see how you could arrive to this assumption.

However, Wallace Dunwoody — the attorney representing iLife in the lawsuit — insists that his client is acting honestly:

iLife and its CEO Michael Lehrman are the original inventors of this technology, and the company does not enforce any patents that it did not develop. Unlike so-called patent trolls, iLife also has a history of developing and bringing to market products using their technology.

The company spent many years researching and millions of dollars developing the environment-based motion detection technology at issue in this suit.

This isn't the first time that Nintendo has become embroiled in a legal battle over the motion-sensing tech in its Wii console. Last year, the company won cases against IA Labs and Movita. However, things haven't always gone Nintendo's way. Recently the firm was found guilty of infringing a patent with its 3DS console.

[via blogs.dallasobserver.com]

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User Comments (112)

arronishere

#6

arronishere said:

I've patented a stick and will sue every company that has ever released a stylus for infringement!

Guybrush20X6

#10

Guybrush20X6 said:

Again?

I think this is the 7th time something like this has happened on motion controls alone.

Volmun

#12

Volmun said:

"We invent peac of mind" so... your gana sue everyone who has idears now too? ... lol reminds me of that stupid woman in the US who clamed she owned the Sun and triyed to sue enione who "Got use out of the sun" -_- some ppl need to get a grip of reality

Volmun

#13

Volmun said:

"Up to four Wii Remote Plus controllers can be connected at once using wireless Bluetooth technology. The wireless signal can be detected within 10 meters of the console. Both the Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuk controllers include motion sensors. The Wii Remote Plus also includes a speaker, rumble feature and expansion port, and can be used as a pointer within five meters of the screen." Errrrrm.. the NON motion plus controler had a speacer too... this just pruves that thay dont do the darn reserche....

Artwark

#14

Artwark said:

So to those like Sony and Microsoft who just copy ideas from Nintendo don't get sued to those "Lawsuits" because they use gamepads?????

Didn't PS3 have a motion remote like the Wii remote did?

ledreppe

#16

ledreppe said:

Nintendo won the case against the last loser of a company that tried to pull this trick on them. De ja vu... It seems the only way iLife can make money from anything it claims to be theres is by suing other companies that have actually done something with the technology.

justlink

#17

justlink said:

Y does it matter know anyway. The courts should make it so a lawsuit over a patent happen in a year of the offender, not 7 years later. Also, the Wii Remote was made in Japan, so it was patented in Japan, not here.

N64ever

#18

N64ever said:

So they were unaware of the Wii for over 7 years? Damn these patent trolls. How come you're not suing sony for their motion controllers.

Ralizah

#19

Ralizah said:

Looks like the success of that 3D Camera lawsuit has emboldened another patent troll.

Volmun

#20

Volmun said:

@N64ever what i dont get is why arnt thay going after Mobile / Cell phone makers as thay have all of what the gamepad has and more..

therick112

#23

therick112 said:

So the original Wii remote was released Nov 2006, and Motion Plus sometime in 2009 if I am not mistaken. They are only discovering NOW that Nintendo infringed on the patent??

Nakzul

#24

Nakzul said:

Damn u therick122! I was writing the exact same post when I saw it pop up above :D

Nintenjoe64

#25

Nintenjoe64 said:

As many have already said, it's funny how these inventors took nearly 8 years to figure it out. I think the patenting system will either have to change or will become worthless if everyone can successfully sue big ideas by claiming their own patents preceded any major innovation that comes along.

Kaze_Memaryu

#29

Kaze_Memaryu said:

@N64ever Only filing this lawsuit now, when the WiiMote has been around for more than 7 years, really is suspicious.
But about the PS3 point: the Move controller utilizes relative position detection using a camera and the obnoxious lightbulb on top of the controller. By calculating speed and distance, movement is mirrored onto movement feedback modules used in every game with Move support. But positioning is not determined via bluetooth, if I remember correctly, but by utilizing the Ad-Hoc connection (which is more like wi-fi than bluetooth).

9th_Sage

#30

9th_Sage said:

Good lord, again? Oh well, more than likely they'll hand out a spanking to these guys too. Unbelieveable. I still believe they're patent trolls...no one makes all kinds of innovative products (as these guys claim) then doesn't bother to put them on their website.

DarkNinja9

#33

DarkNinja9 said:

ok i have a few things:
"if you don't use it, you lose it" so i guess this applies here too right if they didnt put use to the tech they lost it so someone else put it to use? xD

herp derp come on this took how many years now for them to file a law suit and what not? but what about sony getting suede too?

KARNOVsSTACHE

#35

KARNOVsSTACHE said:

@phoenixology I was thinking that as well. Would be funny if Apple went after this company. I'm directing all of my anger created from SMB3 not being released on the Virtual Console in the US yet towards this iLife company. ;)

Darknyht

#36

Darknyht said:

@therick112 Usually a company tries to get the infringing party to license out of court first. However, (IANAL disclaimer) this sounds more like someone found these patents for medical devices (the Wii Fit U sensor for example) and realized they could make a lot of money by suing other industries in a Patent Troll friendly TX court. It looks like the original 2002 patent was modified in 2006 and 2009 to make it more and more broad and abstract so they could do exactly what they are doing now.

MixMasterMudkip

#38

MixMasterMudkip said:

I'm fine with this. I have no fear that Nintendo will win. If they really stole this idea from them, they would have said something a long long time ago. I mean it been years since the Wii released, But I enjoy watching a court case play out.

TreesenHauser

#40

TreesenHauser said:

Funny how these guys claim to have invented the technology first, yet I've never seen or heard of a motion-control device from iLife. Nintendo has nothing to be worried about.

mike_intv

#42

mike_intv said:

This company appears to be a classic patent troll.

It files about two lawsuits a week.

AlexSora89

#43

AlexSora89 said:

They're gonna lose this one. HARD.
Not even Phoenix Wright could do anything at all about it!

kyuubikid213

#52

kyuubikid213 said:

Basically...

The Wii's life has come and gone. They're a day late and a dollar short on this one. Not only that, but I've never heard of iLife before.

They've invented not being relevant.

ToxieDogg

#53

ToxieDogg said:

Trolls. You can't just decide nearly a decade later that a company is infringing your copyrights with pretty much zero evidence to back up your claims asides from a dodgy patent.

This kind of reminds me of that other idiot Tim Langdell who tried to claim copyright infringement every time somebody used the word 'Edge', lol :D

GearsOfWarU

#54

GearsOfWarU said:

Uh the Wii came out in 2006 ... It's now 2014 and you are just realizing someone stole your idea? 8 years ago ... Sounds Fake as Hell to me...

Yorumi

#55

Yorumi said:

We really do need a loser pays system to stop these lawsuits. It's just too easy to file lawsuits for anything, but if both parties had something to lose you wouldn't see suits that are as utterly asinine as this one. I would love to see the company bankrupted in legal fees but I know they're hiding any assets they have in shell companies so that's not even possible.

Azooooz

#57

Azooooz said:

If it's the war you want, then it's the war you'll get. But be advised: Not one of ya's gonna survive this.

Untitled

TrueWiiMaster

#58

TrueWiiMaster said:

So it took them 7 years to realize that Nintendo's famous motion controllers infringe on their patents so blatantly... Yeah, I don't think they have any case here. If there was such an infringement, they would have filed a claim years ago.

rmeyer

#59

rmeyer said:

iLife? I'm pretty sure they are infringing on apples patents with that name alone

russellohh

#60

russellohh said:

Why does every one of these companies have an i in their name? Can Apple sue for overuse of lower case i's?

Kaine_Morrison

#61

Kaine_Morrison said:

Go into Big Lots! there is a TONNE of stuff there with the iLife brand in the Electronics "section."
It's mostly just crap that fails after a few uses, if it even lasts that long...
This will get thrown out soon...

Kaine_Morrison

#63

Kaine_Morrison said:

I feel bad for Nintendo though...
Think of all the money that they are spending on Court Fees and Lawyers.
That money could be going into R&D, but no, it's wasted on these jerks...
I think that all these companies got together behind closed doors with Sony and Microsoft and they were told to bring as many Lawsuits as possible against Nintendo to bankrupt them this way, because they can't do it through sales alone....

Yorumi

#64

Yorumi said:

@Kaine_Morrison you just don't hear about the ones that sony and ms faces cause this is a nintendo site. The biggest problem is for a large company is much cheaper to just settle a case than to fight it. That's why you see so many stupid lawsuits, not just patent trolls but also why a basketball is labeled a choking hazard.

That's why everyone just sues all the time. A million dollars is a fortune to an individual or a small company, but pocket change to someone as large as nintendo. Then you have the BS the media puts out, so when a big company does decide to just absolutely destroy on of these people they get the PR flack from morons. "Oh look at this big giant evil corporation going after this poor innocent little small business just struggling to survive."

I'd love to see everyone, nintendo, sony, ms, and anyone else just so utterly financially ruin patent trolls no one would ever again dare to troll them. Unfortunately the system is entirely stacked against them from too many angles.

WaLzgiStaff

#65

WaLzgi said:

Oh noes, your products are damaging our completely unrelated products. Our lawyers are insisting that we are acting honestly, therefore we are.

I love America...

AdanVC

#66

AdanVC said:

Well, Apple should sue this "company" for using iLife as it's name... ´Merica.

Yosher

#67

Yosher said:

Why do these guys always figure out so late that people 'stole' their ideas? Yeesh.

Anguspuss

#69

Anguspuss said:

Arent they slightly ever so late. Hell Wii isnt in production anymore.
This gets on my nerves. Should be no product no patent.
You can have a company that dosent actually do anything claim patents for everything.

BinaryFragger

#73

BinaryFragger said:

@Kaine_Morrison

As Yorumi already mentioned, Microsoft and Sony get hit with these types of lawsuits all the time. These small patent troll companies love going after big gazzilion-dollar companies, hoping the giants will simply settle for a few million dollars.
I know it's common to hate Microsoft and Sony here, but they have nothing to do with this new iLife lawsuit.

Yoshis_VGM

#78

Yoshis_VGM said:

When was their supposed "breakthrough" technology created? If I remember correctly, the Wii entered development shortly after the GameCube launch in 2001. I seriously doubt they were making motion controllers before that.

And considering the fact that they filed 8 lawsuits since December 2012, I think it's perfectly acceptable to label this company a patent troll. So pathetic...

Hyperstar96

#80

Hyperstar96 said:

They're about seven years late, and they're not doing anything about Sony or Microsoft. I call patent troll.

JacketsNest101

#81

JacketsNest101 said:

It's pretty obvious to me that this a patent troll case. Their patent was repeatedly modified in 2002, 2006, and 2009 to intentionally make it more broad just so they do this stuff. Does anyone know if they happen to have sued Microsoft over the Kinect, because with how they describe their technology in the 2009 patent it would be easy to get a lawsuit going. Generally speaking though, suits like this don't register on the radar of big companies. A few million dollar buyout is nothing to something Nintendo.

ningeek185

#83

ningeek185 said:

Brother…this is just stupid. All they want is cash. Let's all settle this by betting on who can find the eight red coins on Cool Cool Mountain first! (SS64)

Chris720

#86

Chris720 said:

Yo, Apple, someone's using "i" before their name, go get 'em!

By the way, why not file this 8 years ago? Bloomin' patent trolls. Why not get off your fat donkey and use your patents instead, rather than waiting for someone to develop it then actually USE it. No respect for this iLife company, what a bunch of wan- Chris720 is being sued because of iLife's patent on this word

JohnBgon

#88

JohnBgon said:

Also, I attempted to email info@ilifetechnologies.com ridiculing them for being ~8 years late. But received a bounce back by their server: mail.net4india.com
lolz

Williaint

#90

Williaint said:

If iLife has their name patented, they would have an easier time going after Apple for using the name on iLife software. I'm sure the reason their page is called iLifesolutions, is because apple already had iLife.
@JohnBgon That Tom Quinn story pretty much negates iLife Solution's attack on Nintendo. Well, I don't blame it for getting bounced back, according to their site, they haven't updated in over a year.
The Wii which, released in 2006, Was first publicly revealed 9 years ago.... Which again raises the question.... Why now? They say they have something against the Wii U? It's over a year old.

R_Champ

#92

R_Champ said:

@HeroOfCybertron

EXACTLY what I was thinking. Sure, they could have stolen the tech....eight years ago. That's a long time, especially considering how popular the Wii was so pretty much everyone knew about it. That's patent trolling if I ever saw it. Today, I said 1+1=3 and then patented my stupidity...pay up Texas, especially you Bush.

cfgk24

#93

cfgk24 said:

Maybe ilife are being goaded by Lawyers so that they will have to pay a large legal bill just to the lawyers lol. :)

epicrean

#94

epicrean said:

So lets see... Wii Was Released Nov 19th 2006. Ilife filed suit for patent violations on 6 patents, 2 of which were issued after the Wii was released, another in Aug. SO first we are to believe that Nintendo infringed on Patents that weren't even in exsistence at the time?

We can assume Nintendo started devlopment for the Wii and it's controller before the system launched so Second, we are to believe that while Nintendo made their controller they failed to patent their technology

Based on that I am looking at three of the sex can be thrown out leaving us with a possiblity of three Patents infringed.

They also included the Wii U gamepad and Wii U into their suit and ask for an injuction on those products as well.

What I see here is a company with 3 possible patents that could target the Wii controller, (Not the non chuck) and only the controller. 3 of 6 patents that can be thrown out due to dates. I won't say they are trolls but the suit seems a little late to show which makes it suspicous

Urbanhispanic

#95

Urbanhispanic said:

Are you kidding me? This is a joke, right?

There is no way that this lawsuit is legit or even worth taken seriously. Get 'em, Nintendo!

RaylaxStaff

#96

Raylax said:

I hope the courts say that Nintendo have to pay iLife royalties for every brand new Wii console manufactured from this point onward.

(The Wii is no longer in production)

element187

#98

element187 said:

@HeroOfCybertron I think you know the answer to that question.... If the Wii flopped we would have never seen this happen..... But since it was a smashing success every company wants a piece.....

I mean, why Nintendo? Why not go after Sony for 'Move' ? Because 'Move' was an abysmal failure.

Stu13

#99

Stu13 said:

I just registered a patent for posting comments on this story. You'll all be hearing from my lawyer.

mch

#100

mch said:

Patent Trolls are best spottet by focusing on companies that try so hard not to be called Patent Trolls.

WaxxyOne

#101

WaxxyOne said:

I'm pretty sure I invented using motion for playing games when I came up with the idea of picking up two (2) plastic cubes with numbers on each side, tossing my arm around repeatedly to sufficiently randomize their orientation, and then releasing them onto the table or gaming surface (henceforth known as "THE SURFACE" — Microsoft, you'll be hearing from my lawyers as well) and using the resulting random number created by combining the two values shown on the top-most face of each cube to influence the board game I was playing.

This is bullpoopydoodiedoggiepooples, and I want my cut of Nintendo's profits too!
Please watch the profanity — TBD

WaxxyOne

#102

WaxxyOne said:

@element187 and ironically a complete ripoff of Nintendo's technology, who to my knowledge has not sued Sony yet.

At least Microsoft had the decency to explore a different method of accepting motion input when they set out to imitate Nintendo's success.

the_shpydar

#103

the_shpydar said:

While this is likely a so-called "patent troll" in action, I just love how people in the comments section on these types of stories are all of the sudden legal experts who pretend to actually know what they're talking about, when they clearly don't. I find it rather entertaining. :D

kendorage

#105

kendorage said:

So they don't sue nintendo during the "printing money" wii yrs.....but they are suing them during the "revenue loss" wii u years.

Patent trolls? Possibly
Stupid patent trolls? Definitely

the_shpydar

#107

the_shpydar said:

@SebCroc Thank you for your interest. In all honesty I'd rather not get into a long legal discussion — lawyerly stuff is what I do all day, and the last thing I want to do when I'm home for the night and reading my fave video game site is discuss legalities. Sorry. But I do appreciate the fact that you actually want to know more. :)

Just one quick legal point though: the timing of the suit is irrelevant — 7 or 8 years after the Wii was released? So what. There are statutes of limitations for lawsuits, and the fact that they exist doesn't mean that a suit needs to be filed right away. We have no idea what's gone on behind the scenes — iLife may have been trying to deal with Nintendo for years to work out a settlement and once that wasn't going to happen, iLife decided to file suit.

Sadly, I can't help but think if this exact same situation was happening but iLife was suing Sony or MS, then the same commenters on this site would be supporting iLife.

Facts are this — we don't know the full extent of this suit, its validity, or its likely outcome. iLife does appear at first blush to be something of a patent troll (though this term, more properly referred to as a "patent assertion entity", is being misused by many — it's correctly used to refer to companies who sit on owned patents to collect revenue, while creating no true products of their own), but we don't have all the facts.

Even if they are a "patent troll", if Ninty did infringe on patents that they hold, then iLife is entitled to restitution (so long as they are acting in good faith, which will of course be a large part of the argument in defense).

Meh, time to turn by brain back off and watch more Old School Raw. :D

JaxonH

#108

JaxonH said:

@the_shpydar No, we don't know all the facts, but that doesn't mean we can't use our God-given common sense to arrive at some logical conclusions. And considering it's a fact that this company has filed 7 other infringement lawsuits in the last 2 years alone, and it's a fact that the Wii has been out for over 7 years, it's more than reasonable to assume the obvious. This company is looking for easy money. Sure it "could" turn out they have a legitimate case, but I seriously doubt it.

Trikeboy

#110

Trikeboy said:

It took them this long to realise their patent was infringed? Where was this back in 2006. They just saw a chance with the 3DS camera issue to try and get some cash.

Windy

#112

Windy said:

Well Nintendo did steal the no Glasses 3d technology. So this wouldn't surprise me either. If they did Pay them, if they didn't fight them and win. Nintendo also had Contracted out the manufacturing of the Wii to a company who was Exploiting Children and that story got buried very fast and Nintendo was let off the hook because it was contracted. Seriously they need to know who they are doing business with. This is the kind of thing that happens when you contract out work.

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