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Nintendo Patents Wii

Nintendo Defeats and Assumes Control of 'Patent Troll's' Portfolio After Victory 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the thank-you-IA-Labs,-but-our-patents-are-in-another-castle! dept.
the simurgh sends this news from Gamespot: "Nintendo has acquired the entire patent portfolio of now-defunct IA Labs following its victory in court, the Japanese gaming giant has announced. Nintendo obtained the patents during a sheriff's sale in Montgomery County, Maryland on Tuesday. IA Labs originally sued Nintendo for patent infringement in 2010, claiming the Mario maker's Wii controller and Wii Fit technology infringed on two separate IA Labs patents. Nintendo successfully defended itself as part of a court battle in 2012, also winning various fees related to the case. IA Labs appealed the ruling, but an appellate court sided with Nintendo in June 2013. At this point, IA Labs was ordered to pay Nintendo additional fees, and when the company failed to do so, a sheriff's sale was commenced."
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Nintendo Defeats and Assumes Control of 'Patent Troll's' Portfolio After Victory

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  • by raymorris (2726007) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @12:02PM (#45926399)

    IA labs made actual products similar to wii-fit and met with Nintendo to discuss making Wii accessories using their technology at about the time the 3DS was to be released. IA then found out that Nintendo made the accessories themselves, apparently "stealing the ideas" that IA presented to them. So that's not what we'd normally call a patent troll.

    It turns out that Nintendo had been developing the products before meeting with IA, and the court ruled that Nintendo didn't infringe the IA patents, so IA lost. It appears to me that IA was a bit too aggressive in defending their patents, but they didn't engage in the pattern of behavior normally associated with a troll.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A thoughtful, informative, useful post. Thank you.

      • More like:

        A thoughtful, informative, useful post. Get lost. We don't need your kind around here.

    • Labelling your opponents "trolls" will be the new corporate propaganda term, just like labeling copyright infringement "pirates".
      • by Ignacio (1465) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @12:22PM (#45926511)
        Except that Nintendo didn't do that. It was the writer of the "article" (which is really just an oversized text blurb) who used that word.
      • "Labelling your opponents "trolls" will be the new corporate propaganda term, just like labeling copyright infringement "pirates"

        Nice try, but wrong comparison. Let me tabulate the terms you're comparing for clarity:

        copyright infringement (alleged crime) : pirate (accused)
        patent infringement (alleged crime) : patent troll (accuser)

        See? A "pirate" is the person or party accused of copyright infringment. A "patent troll" on the other hand is the person or party that accuses (somebody else) of patent infringem

    • by Fnord666 (889225) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @01:47PM (#45926925) Journal

      IA labs made actual products similar to wii-fit and met with Nintendo to discuss making Wii accessories using their technology at about the time the 3DS was to be released. IA then found out that Nintendo made the accessories themselves, apparently "stealing the ideas" that IA presented to them. So that's not what we'd normally call a patent troll.

      I agree. Based on this [gamespot.com] article, Interactive Labs held the original patents and made products based on those patents. iA Labs acquired the patents later, then sued Nintendo with them. I think this was actually a defensive measure by Interactive Labs.

      On April 2(2010), IA Labs filed suit against Nintendo in the United States District Court of Maryland. The suit claims that Nintendo has willfully infringed upon IA Labs patents with Wii Fit, Wii Fit Plus, and the Wii Balance Board, as well as the Wii Remote, Wii Nunchuk, Wii MotionPlus, Wii Wheel, and Wii Zapper. The company acquired the aforementioned patents in 2009 from Interaction Labs.

      The fitness-technology company claims that the patents have been used in a number of products in the past. As detailed in the filing, Interaction Labs released the Kilowatt Sport and Exer-Station, both of which add a workout element to "any off-the-shelf video game on the PlayStation, Xbox, GameCube, or PC."

      Both the patents and the products based on those patents were created by Interaction Labs. Interaction Labs held discussions with Nintendo in 2007 and 2008. iA Labs acquired the patents in 2009 and then sued Nintendo in 2010. iA Labs doesn't seem to have actually produced anything. One interesting thing to note is the following:

      The suit also notes that then-Interaction Labs president and current IA Labs chief technology officer Greg Merril contacted Nintendo on a number of occasions in 2007 and 2008, through personal meetings and via e-mail. However, Merril's attempt to enter into a licensing agreement with Nintendo ultimately resulted in the publisher ceasing contact in late 2008.

      One possibility is that iA Labs may have been spun off by Interactive Labs solely for the purpose of protecting the rest of Interactive Labs from an outcome like this.

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        Meetings in 2007 and 2008 would have been after Nintendo released the Wii and Wii Fit, so I'm not sure how their timeline of infringement was supposed to work.

    • by icebike (68054)

      Why did Nintendo want to buy patents that they didn't infringe?
      Hadn't the just demonstrated in court that those patents were worthless?

      • by raymorris (2726007) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @08:43PM (#45929183)

        Just because Nintendo's existing product didn't already infringe doesn't mean they are worthless. Perhaps Nintendo redesigned products specifically to avoid infringement. Perhaps they would like to make or license products that would infringe.

        Suppose I invent a working time machine. Nintendo hasn't infringed that patent in the past. Does that make the time machine patent worthless?

      • Perhaps because Nintendo could buy the patents for almost nothing. If IA owes Nintendo 10 million and can't pay it, so they have a sheriff's sale to raise the money. Nintendo buys the patents for 7 million, get the money back as payment for the court judgement, and is still owed 3 million in case IA has any other assets.

        ~~
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Wii came out in 2005 and Wii Fit came out in 2008, long before the 3DS was released. If this meeting happened about the 3DS release, then Nintendo had long since shipped the products IA ostensibly objected to.

  • pwned.

    • by gnupun (752725)
      ... by the bad guyz
  • Patentmon (Score:5, Funny)

    by lxs (131946) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @12:57PM (#45926649)

    Gotta catch them all!

  • The entire portfolio should have put into the public domain. That's the price that should be paid in these kinds of things.

    • The entire portfolio should have put into the public domain. That's the price that should be paid in these kinds of things.

      To me that sounds entirely unreasonable. So could you explain your reasoning?

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        More patent trolling doesn't achieve the original goals of the patent system.

      • The entire portfolio should have put into the public domain. That's the price that should be paid in these kinds of things.

        To me that sounds entirely unreasonable. So could you explain your reasoning?

        I was going to just ignore the GP until I saw your post, and thought about it. I guess it goes like this:

        A: Hey! You're infringing our patents and here's why!
        B: Nuh-uh!
        Judge: I concur; nuh-uh. Find in favor of B.
        A: Curses!
        Judge: A, all of the patents you were defending now belong to the peeples.
        The Peeples: Sweet!

        My guess is the GP is generally hostile to patents, maybe to all IP. His philosophy might be, "music wants to be free! (to live on my iPod)"

      • by mysidia (191772)

        To me that sounds entirely unreasonable. So could you explain your reasoning?

        I agree that the patents going to the public domain is a more appropriate outcome.

        The constitutional authorization is

        To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

        Note, that SECURING TO CLAIMANTS AGAINST AUHTORS, or Securing to people the Authors owe money to is not part of the authorization.

        Not onl

        • Yes, but nearly all of these arguments are pointless because:

          To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

          ... is a Brain-Damage scale assumption. First, prove that securing exclusive rights to writings and discoveries can promote the progress of science and the useful arts. Since the old founding farts didn't do any damn experiment to test their belief first, a rational course of action would be to abolish these exclusive rights and find out. We can re-implement any ridiculous legal restrictions after we've ascertained whether we're actually helpi

          • by Quila (201335)

            I present the Automotive and Fashion industries which sell primarily on design and are very innovative and lucrative despite not having copyrights or design patents

            Car makers do get design patents, and make good business off of the copyright for their repair and parts manuals. And with the advent of computer-driven systems in cars, you bet those programs are copyrighted.

            However, there was debate before the Constitution was ratified. Jefferson wanted no such artificial monopolies. Madison considered that a v

      • by gnupun (752725)

        The entire portfolio should have put into the public domain. That's the price that should be paid in these kinds of things.

        To me that sounds entirely unreasonable. So could you explain your reasoning?

        He and many others are Nintendo wannabes... they want something for nothing.

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Saturday January 11, 2014 @01:20PM (#45926769) Journal

    If two "practitioners skilled in the art" come up with the same idea independently, it SHOULD automatically invalidate the patent. That is part of the patent language, is it not?

    • If two "practitioners skilled in the art" come up with the same idea independently, it SHOULD automatically invalidate the patent. That is part of the patent language, is it not?

      No. It isn't. First, you can't patent ideas. Second, inventions should be non-obvious. But if something is so non-obvious that nobody figures it out then it can't be patented, right? So it must be possible for one person to figure it out. And if one person can figure it out, then another might. Now if a dozen people "have a same idea", that might be an indication that it is obvious, but not with two.

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Sure you can patent ideas. Patents are so broad today and juries are so generous today that you can quite effectively patent an idea. Tivo is a great example of this. They claimed ownership of some prior art and built a device that was only relevant short a short period of time. That device and whatever legitimate inventions they may have had quickly became irrelevant.

        Their "innovations" were rendered moot by the advance of technology before they engaged in the first related cases of patent trolling.

        It's no

      • by CauseBy (3029989)

        In my opinion the threshold for patentability should be higher than average in the skill of the art. I mean, average ideas are unremarkable and shouldn't have special monopoly status. To get that special status you should have to come up with something truly clever, something an average-skilled practitioner couldn't come up with.

        So if you take two average schlubs and they both come up with your idea, then in my opinion yeah that's not a valid patent.

        But what the hell does my opinion matter? I know the legal

    • by mysidia (191772)

      If two "practitioners skilled in the art" come up with the same idea independently, it SHOULD automatically invalidate the patent. That is part of the patent language, is it not?

      Nope. It's first to file, buddy. The patent might be invalid, but not because two people came up with it independently.

    • "Not obvious to practicioners skilled in the art" means that people with adequate knowledge cannot duplicate your results with a trivial amount of work - at least not without getting lucky on a shortcut such as accidental discoveries.

      Example of obvious patent (IMO): double data rate - separate logic operating on rising and falling clock edges already existed prior to DDR patents and for most intents and purposes, all DDR does is put both circuits inside a single IOB circuit, which requires close to zero eff

    • It would depend on how quickly the two came up with the idea and how much thought it required.

      For example, going to the different field of mathematics/theoretical computer science, no one would say that Cook's theorem was obvious, but despite this it was almost simultaneously proven in the West by Cook and in the Soviet Union by Levin. I think that the right way to judge obviousness is to have it done by the patent examiners, although it might be hard for them to be 'skilled in the art' when examining pate
  • I love it when the patent trolls bite the dust. I'm singing the Queen song right now!
  • There can be only one!
  • I wonder what Nintendo is going to do with these patents they weren't infringing on in the first place (and thus should be null and void from their standpoint)... going after Sony or Microsoft that might be infringing on them with certain elements of Move or Kinect?
    • by Solandri (704621)

      I wonder what Nintendo is going to do with these patents they weren't infringing on in the first place (and thus should be null and void from their standpoint)

      Unfortunately, Nintendo isn't the one who gets to decide if the patents are null and void. A court and frequently a jury does. Juries can be misled, judges can be biased. Any patent case is to some extent a gamble. Why gamble on someone else buying the patents and continuing the lawsuits and some judge/jury coming to a silly but legally binding d

      • by catprog (849688)

        And with their(IA) assets probably not enough to cover the judgment , Nintendo ends up with their money back anyway.

  • by Dabido (802599)

    I just hope Nintendo doesn't turn into ...

    *removes glasses*

    Super Mari-troll

Practical people would be more practical if they would take a little more time for dreaming. -- J. P. McEvoy

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