News Article

Nintendo Involved In Patent Dispute Over Wii U's Dual Screen Capabilities

Posted by Damien McFerran

It's that time again

Nintendo is no stranger to patent cases, and it has been revealed that the company is involved in yet another — this time relating to the Wii U's selling point: its ability to display two screens at once.

Nintendo Co. Ltd., Nintendo of America, Inc. and several other companies — including retailers who sell the system in North America, like Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon — are being taken to court by Secure Axcess, LLC.

The disputed patent was taken out in 2003, and relates to "Multiscreen Personal Computer Display Method and Apparatus".

Secure Axcess is chasing "compensatory damages, costs, among other reliefs" relating to the sale of the Wii U without proper authorisation. This isn't the first time that the firm has had a legal tussle with Nintendo — last January, it claimed that the same patent had been infringed by the Nintendo DS, DS Lite, DSi, 3DS, and 3DS XL.


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User Comments (77)



JaxonH said:

This kind of stuff pisses me off.

First they say the DS and 3DS family handhelds infringe on their Personal Computer Display Method patent, which is, ya know, for Personal Computers, and when that doesn't work they go after the Wii U. AS IF they own a patent for using more than one screen or something. Well, you can't use buttons either cause we own a patent for buttons. BS... The technology used in DS/3DS second screen is completely different than the wireless technology used for Wii U. The fact they went after DS/3DS first should be Nintendo's saving grace. You can't sue anytime someone puts a screen on a device....



Dreamz said:

Read the abstract. The Wii U's implementation is nothing at all like the method described by the patent. It doesn't make it any less annoying that Nintendo has to deal with it however.

I really wish US patent law would catch up to the 21st century. Specifically, I would like to see them implement damages for obviously malicious litigation like this.



DreamOn said:

Patent trolling is becoming such a widespread way of money getting. It affects far more than businesses like Nintendo. In fact I was listening to a podcaster who's podcast along with other podcasts came under lawsuit by patent trollers.

In many cases depending on the amount they are suing for, these groups just aim to be paid out a settlement because they know it may cost these companies more in legal fees to defend their property. So the companies could be tempted to just pay out a settlement to end the litigation.

In the cases of true patent trolling - groups that go out and file patents to later sue businesses - it's just terrible profiteering.



3dcaleb said:

thats pretty stupid. i dont think they will win that one. wouldnt they also be suing any other product that can be displayed on more than 1 screen? my computer is a toughbook that has a handheld wireless second touchscreen, so wouldnt they be suing them too? and what about the xbox thing that uses your ipad or iphone as a second screen? i forgot the name. oh, and cant you use a psvita with a ps3 or ps4? i dont think they can only go after nintendo.



Raylax said:

The Wii U only has one screen. The other screen is in fact a television set which is in no way part of the Wii U hardware.




DreamOn said:

@3dcaleb In the case of patent trolling if that indeed describes this group, yes, they may and do go after multiple targets for infringement of their patent.



Shworange said:

This patent troll crap has to be stopped at the government level! I did a quick search on the company Secure Axcess to see how legit they are. In recent years, they sued Dell Computers over the use of encryption technology to make servers secure. They the. Went ahead and sued JP Morgan Chase, First Citizen Bank, and Harris Bank over the use of login pictures (sometimes companies make you login and then pick an image that you selected upon account creation).
These guys are very active patent trolls. This type of litigation gets very expensive and time consuming. Nintendo may just settle, but that doesn't mean they stole anything. Also, the case is being filed in Texas. This is because the state has regulations that support patent trolls.



Crimzonlogic said:

They are trying to sue retailers for SELLING Wii U's? Is that even legal? That sounds just plain ridiculous.



Artwark said:

Well they won the case over the 3DS so I'm pretty sure they can win this one.



ToniK said:

When the going gets tough, sue someone! Serial suers should get penalty fees or whatever.



DESS-M-8 said:

Does this mean that this company will go back in time to the 1980's and file a law suit against Nintendo's original Game & Watch handhelds?

As it's that that was the basis for the design of the 3DS and Wii U.



vattodev said:

This is really a joke patent. How can a patent dated from 2000 covers something that windows 98 did way back?



vattodev said:

@ToniK Sometimes they do, but last time Nintendo lost one on the 3DS and the court used the 3DS as an example and the fee was pretty high.



Troggy said:

I'm surprised that they think it would be any different after the 3ds dispute fell through. I'm hoping these disputes will stop being so petty. Besides, it not like that company was the first to use two screens in technology. Nintendo themselves had two screens in the old Punch-Out!! arcade machine.



Gladius_X said:

As far as I can tell, this patent basically boils down to 'look we've invented two screens that can display different things!'. Seem a bit too broad to me to sue anybody, they might then also sue Sony for their PSVita/PS3 crossplay, or any manufacturer of TVs with smart remote (apps)..



Dreamz said:


It's not quite that broad. The patent basically describes a device that sends a video stream to multiple outputs; it works off of a single input stream, but can stream to different timings to the various outputs. Which is entirely different from the Wii U, since with the Wii U both screens are handled independently.



Zombie_Barioth said:

More like the typical multi-monitor display any PC is capable of. If anything their patent looks like some sort of adapter, one image shows it working with a printer.

They're just hoping to pass it as Nintendo "stealing" their technology for displaying multiple images off one device. The only reason they're probably going after it is they look at it as a DS in console form, so they think they can win this one too.



MikeLove said:

Wait a minute.....someone else wants to actually lay claim to the design of the Wii-U?!

Yikes! Nintendo should be hoping they lose this case so they can pass the blame onto another company



SpookyMeths said:

It infuriates me to no end that America allows people to earn a living by patent trolling. Land of opportunity, indeed.



EverythingAmiibo said:

Let's be honest here, it was for a "Personal Computer" not a games console! The patent has a keyboard in the pictures for goodness sake!



Ninhau said:

there are tons of companies that just exist to sue other companies. they buy all the patents they can buy, and then try to find any big company who has similar products, and just sues them

the parasites of the economy



Giygas_95 said:

"Secure Axcess is chasing 'compensatory damages, costs, among other reliefs' relating to the sale of the Wii U without proper authorization."

Because Nintendo and retailers need authorization from some company we've never even heard about to sell their own hardware?



LztheQuack said:

I think it's hilarious they are suing the retailers too. This just shows how little credibility they have in this case. Also, after reviewing the patent, this does not have a chance in court. Nintendo will not settle in this.

They tried the same thing with the 3DS, DS, etc. and lost that case. I don't expect any less from this one.

@Shworange: You should know that the federal courts handle this as copyright/patent law is handled by the federal government. The states have little to nothing to do with this.



ryeane said:

Wow, once again another Texas company patent case. See the trend. Companies, courthouses, judges and the patent-office are all in cahoots together in Texas...corrupted Greedy l*vers.



64supermario said:

There seriously needs to be something done about patent trolling, this is getting too ridiculous.



Knuckles said:

Haha. This is almost as funny as the story I heard about a woman who claimed a star was hers. The sun. She claims she registered the sun as being her own star and everyone has to pay her to use it.



Kiokothepirate said:

@Dreamz I would also like to see laws implemented that would require a patent holder to use a patent in some regard within a certain time limit. This way companies couldn't put out patents just to try and keep competitors from using the technology. Obviously, such laws would require some fine tuning.



ledreppe said:

Another looser of a company that is desperate for money.


I don't know what case your referring to, but the 3DS has lost a case (can't remember about what) in the past, and Nintendo are having to pay a cut of sales to some company.



StephenYap3 said:

These patent trolls are like random encounters in a high-level dungeon or a field of buried landmines. It's sadistic and absurd.



Yorumi said:

The problem is that it's just cheaper to settle so it just breeds more patent trolls. They're exactly like forum trolls you give them what they want and they'll just be right back the next day. Someday I'd love to see a big company like nintendo just go after one of these and so absolutely crush them their grandchildren feel the pain.

I'd keep in in court as long as possible and counter sue for all lawyer fees, court fees, travel expenses, slander, damage to sales the cost of electricity for sending emails to japan, bandwidth costs, breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the case, and any other thing the lawyers can come up with in our convoluted legal code.

If they come back with something else under some other shell company destroy them as well. Pretty soon they'll figure out it doesn't make financial sense to patent troll.



rylo151 said:

so what "Multiscreen Personal Computer Display Method and Apparatus" has Secure Axcess, LLC made in the past? what of anything have they made?

im not sure how patents work in america but it sounds like you can just make up any broad term phrase about an idea of something and get a patent for it without doing anything with it, that is bullpoopoodoodoocacapoopledooples
Please watch the profanity — TBD



Yorumi said:

@rylo151 these patents rarely if ever stand up in court. The problem is all the risk is assumed by the company they're targeting. First of all there's the legal fees which almost always are more than any settlement that would be paid. Then there's the risk that you get some rogue judge(there are some insane lunatics on the bench around the country) who won't care and just rule against nintendo.

The risk should be on the accuser but it's not. So for a company like nintendo paying a few million dollars is pocket change and they won't notice it to make the case go away. But for a company that's a 10 people and a few lawyers that's a fortune. They organize the company into a bunch of shell organizations so it's hard if not impossible to inflict real damage on them, and they have virtually no risk in the case. When they lose nothing really happens, and they don't have to win more than about once ever few years to make a ton of money.

I hate getting the government more involved but the law really should be changed to say you need to be actively marketing the product in your patent. The patent also needs to be highly specific(this part is the law now but the patent office doesn't check very well). Finally they really need a loser pays law, if you sue someone and lose you should pay to ensure cases are only brought when the person feels they have a solid case.



steamhare said:

"It is urgent to realize and bears repeating that my invention, whether internally mounted as a plugin card or externally located, strictly samples the real-time, processed and monitor-ready video data signal ordinarily delivered from the output of the video adapter card. My TVA stores a true “what you see” frame sample for subsequent “what you get” display on a secondary monitor as an accurate replica of a predecessory image that has been recently displayed on the primary monitor. In other words, the INPUT to my TVA device is derived directly from the OUTPUT of the computer's usual video adapter card as monitor-ready processed video signals."

If it's urgent I realize this device only displays replicas on the secondary monitor of what appears on the primary display device, I think it's probably fairly important I realize the Wii U functions differently as well.



cusman said:

I hope the end result of this is that Secure Axcess is awarded the cost of paying for all litigation costs from all sides.

The real cost to society is that this type of stuff distracts company like Nintendo from focusing on further innovation while they get tied down defending against crap claims like this.



ted-k said:

@Yorumi @cusman Yes, the patent laws absolutely need to change. They are stifling innovation rather than promoting it. Companies that make and sell fantastic products are having to pay millions to fight off useless companies that have no intention of ever doing anything with their so called patented inventions.



RickyWill said:

Let's face it: They're not suing over patents, they're suing because they want to make a quick buck off a huge company.

The school of goldfish always go after the shark.



JacketsNest101 said:

@ledreppe That was for the glasses free 3D. Nintendo even admitted to blatantly ripping it off of a guy who came in and presented his idea to them,



Tsusasi said:

Patent trolls aren't even technically human. They're definitely sub-human scum. The linked documents pretty much make Nintendo's case for them. Oops. The argued points have nothing to do with how the Wii U functions beyond the multiscreen function, which if this patent covered that basic function, it would allow these dirtbags to sue damn near everyone. Hell, I'm sitting at my iMac with a dual screen set up right now: Browser in one window, Adobe software open and rendering in the other. Are they going after Apple next?

Please watch the profanity — TBD



B3ND3R said:

Remember the DS guys? It had dual screen games too... I like how NOW someone's complaining when they've been using the tech for so long!



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@ledreppe I'm pretty sure they're just going to appeal it. The ONLY reason why they lost that one was because the court did something a bit strange in that case rather than going with the standard. Usually, it just involves a judge's decision but oddly enough they brought in a jury (which have a tendency to be skewed towards small companies vs large companies) which bring in pretty big bias.



LztheQuack said:

What's ironic is how everyone is whining about the patent system, but 90%+ of patent trolls lose these cases



bofis said:

such trolls....maybe one day we'll have meaningful patent reform...



goonow said:

Theyer patent trolls. They try to sue successful companies over any little thing they can find.



goonow said:

@Unca_Lz its theyer day job so even if they are successful only 10 percent of the time then they are probably still making money lol terrible.



retro_player_22 said:

When will there be some patent troll hunters? Cuz we need to destroy all patent trolls. Also:

"Nintendo is no stranger to patent cases, and it has been revealed that the company is involved in yet another — this time relating to the Wii U's selling point: its ability to display two screens at once.

Secure Axcess is chasing "compensatory damages, costs, among other reliefs" relating to the sale of the Wii U without proper authorisation. This isn't the first time that the firm has had a legal tussle with Nintendo — last January, it claimed that the same patent had been infringed by the Nintendo DS, DS Lite, DSi, 3DS, and 3DS XL."

Yo Secure Axcess, you forgot to mention this one too... Oh what's that, you didn't exist back then, will now we know who is the real patent troll huh.




AshFoxX said:

I have 2 points.
1 If they lost the claim to the DS, why the heck would they think they would win this one?
and 2 the system is almost 2 years old. A bit late to be throwing around lawsuits isn't it?

That stupid company is going to bankrupt themselves on court fees if they don't knock this off.



GuitarAnthony said:

Sadly, the age of innovation has taken a back seat to the age of litigation. The easy way is usually the fruitful way for these patent trolling scum.



sillygostly said:

How great would it be if the next big Level-5 crossover were to be Wario vs. Phoenix Wright. They could base an entire game on these patent trolls.



WaxxyOne said:

From reading some of that patent, it appears to be for a device that can intercept and store video data being sent to a monitor so that the stored data can be displayed on a second screen and optionally zoomed, scaled, etc. It also specifically mentions being used with PCs and connected by physical wires. It does not mention using any kind of compression/decompression technology, cannot accept realtime video data except that already being sent to the primary monitor and not directly intended to be displayed on a second screen by the PC, and is touted as working independent of the operating system software running on the computer.

So, the ONLY similarity to the Wii U gamepad you are basing this suit on is that there are two screens which can show different data at once? Cause, here's the thing. To successfully demonstrate patent infringement, you have to prove that you were first to come up with the concept and use it in a real-world scenario.

I'm pretty freaking sure computers have been able to have 2+ monitors connected concurrently showing different content for quite some time, certainly prior to 2000 when this patent was filed. Now, I'm no lawyer, but I think I could have saved you a bunch of trouble....



TheRealThanos said:

This again; it's just stupid and most patent trolls lose, so why bother? Then again, the apparent reason they keep doing it is because sometimes they're lucky and there is still some profit to gain from it, so to ensure that I myself will make some extra pocket money every now and then, I've gone and patented patent infringement...



mipaol said:

I would buy a Phoenix Wright game based on historical Nintendo lawsuits day one, hell I'd probably pre-order it.

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