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Patent Suit Against Nintendo, Microsoft Dismissed 30

Posted by Soulskill
from the courts-one-troll-zero dept.
Saul J writes with an update to the patent lawsuit that was filed by Fenner Investments back in 2007 against Nintendo and Microsoft. The suit alleged that the two companies had infringed upon a patent for a joystick port interface. The trial was set to begin today, but now Judge Leonard Davis of the US District Court in Tyler, Texas has ruled that there is no need for a jury trial. One of Nintendo's lawyers said, "Nintendo has a long history of developing innovative products while respecting the intellectual property rights of others. We also vigorously defend patent lawsuits when we firmly believe that we have not infringed another party's patent, despite the risks that this policy entails."
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Patent Suit Against Nintendo, Microsoft Dismissed

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  • "Nintendo has a long history of developing innovative products while respecting the intellectual property rights of others...." no-one wanted to say the same about microsoft?
  • Wouldn't Ralph Baer (or Magnavox) have a patent on this? Given that all of that work was done in the 70s, I can't imagine nobody registered for a patent like this until 98.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KDR_11k (778916)

      It's probably something more specific than just a port, some specific attributes. Also the first game ports were pretty much just wires directly to the buttons and such, digital codes only came later.

  • by mrphoton (1349555)
    I have only scanned the patent, however.... I see Nintendos+Microsofts point, can you seriously patent a simple circuit whos main component is a DQ flip-flop in 2001. The other major component seems to be an RC network. The whole device would seem to be an encoder circuit. (possibly patentable in 1960) I don't know about law (especially US law), however as I understand it this would only be eligible for copyright protection under EU law.

    Disclaimer: I know nothing about the law and the above is only m
    • The circuit in the patent conceptually identical to the analog inputs on the classic PC gameport. They shouldn't have been granted a patent, as the idea is obvious and there is prior art. I don't think the devices they're suing over even use the same technique to read the joystick position.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by overlordofmu (1422163)
        I believe I have stated countless times that I have patented the alphabet, addition and subtraction.

        I believe everyone posting here today has failed to pay me my legally due royalties.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Trevin (570491)

        Not just the PC; I recall the Apple II used an analog joystick as well, and the Atari 400/800 used the same method described in the abstract for their paddle controllers. Those were in the market nearly 20 years before the patent was even filed!

    • Whatever the situation, the judge sent the lawsuit packing in a hurry.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ozmanjusri (601766)
      I see Nintendos+Microsofts point, can you seriously patent a simple circuit whos main component is a DQ flip-flop in 2001.

      Maybe the people who patented the use of a simple lookup table to add long filenames in an 8.3 based filesystem might disagree with you?

    • by enjerth (892959)

      Yes, but everything changes when they add "on the internet" to the patent claim.

  • Where's the dismissal?

    All I see is a one-line summary saying the judge decided against a jury trial. That isn't the same as dismissing the case. There's such a thing as a trial with a judge instead of a jury, common for civil cases. Where's the actual dismissal?

    • Fenner Investments [google.com] has had other cases of the same nature.
      • Continuing my comment above: Gamespot [gamespot.com] has a story about the beginning of the case.

        Unfortunately, we cannot depend on Slashdot editors to do much research before they post a story.

        Here are 10 Microsoft patents [networkworld.com]. I haven't investigated further, I'm not in a position to be a Slashdot editor, but the descriptions give the impression that what is being patented are obvious extensions of what is already available, or extensions of what should be open standards. They seem to be the kind of "advance" that woul
        • There also seems to be a lot of trolls trolling other trolls

          You know I never even considered that might happen before - serves them right! Though unfortunately if they haven't been making any products then they probably can't/won't get sued for much? Still, better that they fight amongst themselves than bother those who are actually making stuff and doing proper R&D.

  • I am relieved because with Microsofts history with patent suits Nintendo may have a few setbacks.

  • Now even Microsoft enters this sad, pathetic game. One day, no one will work anymore and no new ideas will be created - there will only be people suing each other over their patents on thinking, breathing and being alive.
    • by anss123 (985305)

      Now even Microsoft enters this sad, pathetic game.

      Microsoft isn't suing Nintendo. They're being sued by Fenner Investments

      • My guess is that Fenner Investments isn't even looking to win the suit. They probably just want Nintendo and MS to pony up some settlement money.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by donaldm (919619)

          My guess is that Fenner Investments isn't even looking to win the suit. They probably just want Nintendo and MS to pony up some settlement money.

          That is why they are called "Patent Trolls". If more companies stood up to them these Trolls would just fade away, however most companies don't have the money to get patents invalidated so they pay up what is to all intensive purposes extortion money which unfortunately strengthens the patent in the eyes of the law (called precedent).

          Patent Trolls usually start off attacking a company that is small and since the company can't afford any long drawn out litigation it pays what to them is affordable amount o

  • Hooray! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Roadkills-R-Us (122219) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @11:45AM (#27226117) Homepage

    It's really nice to see someone actually fight a stupid lawsuit rather than roll over and settle. Maybe we should let Nintendo run the insurance industry. Mario and Donkey Kong could do better than some of the current crop.

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