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Patents Nintendo The Courts Wii Games

Interactive Exercise Company Sues Nintendo For Patent Infringement 67

isometric writes with this excerpt from Gamasutra: "IA Labs is accusing Nintendo of infringing on two separate IA Labs patents through technology used in the Nintendo Wii, Wii Fit, Wii Fit Plus, the Wii Balance Board, Wii Remote, Wii Wheel, Wii MotionPlus, Wii Nunchuck and Wii Zapper. ... The patents in question are 'Computer interactive isometric exercise system and method for operatively interconnecting the exercise system to a computer system for use as a peripheral' and 'Force measurement system for an isometric exercise device.' The claim said that IA Labs had been in contact with Nintendo during 2007-2008, discussing possible overlaps of IA Labs and Nintendo patents. Emails between IA Labs and Nintendo showed that IA Labs wanted to license its technology to Nintendo. IA Labs was also in talks with Nintendo about a product called Sqweeze, a controller for Wii and PC that's meant to increase physical activity when gaming."
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Interactive Exercise Company Sues Nintendo For Patent Infringement

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  • by Aldenissin ( 976329 ) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @11:43AM (#31881952)

    Those who can, do. Those whose products and marketing suck, sue!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jIyajbe ( 662197 )
      Actually, I don't think IA products suck; I am one of the (apparently) few owners of their Kilowatt fitness controllers for the original XBox. It works really well, it is a sensitive controller, and it really makes some games incredibly fun. And, after an hour or two, I am seriously worn out. (I work out in more traditional ways, too.)

      However, I agree that their marketing sucks.

    • Schweet. I've created an old adage. :D

      • It's a figure of speech, "the old adage." Now on the end of surveys there should be a NeutronCowboy option instead of a Cowboy Neal because of your big head. (I kid, I kid.)

  • Moderation (Score:1, Offtopic)

    Where's the mod tool for marking an entire story -1, Troll?

  • Prior Art? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward seems to take care of this patent: "Computer interactive isometric exercise system and method for operatively interconnecting the exercise system to a computer system for use as a peripheral", though not sure about the force measurement one.

  • by ChipMonk ( 711367 ) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @11:55AM (#31882046) Journal
    The Amiga's "Guru Meditation Error" is derived from a balance board connected as a peripheral []. IA did not have an original idea here. I strongly doubt it was original with Amiga, either.
    • It doesn't matter if someone else had a balance board, that is not enough to invalidate a patent. All that matters is if the specific configuration mentioned in the claims section of the patent is original (and it probably is, they tried to write it in such a way that it would be original), and that the specific configuration matches the nintendo device.

      You can find the patents themselves by pasting the titles of the patents into a Google search.
      • by Splab ( 574204 )

        well that, and it has to be non-obvious, but if someone has already done the same thing with different materials it's no longer non-obvious when you do it.

        • From a legal perspective, it is hard to prove things are obvious. Really, if one-click purchase doesn't count as obvious, then there is probably nothing that will count as obvious. Which in my opinion is the #1 single biggest problem with the patent system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      The Amiga's "Guru Meditation Error"

      If anyone is seeking compensation for use of the "Guru Meditation Error" they might want to consider going after slashdot as well; I see Guru Meditation Errors on slashdot at least 5-10 times a week...

  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @12:07PM (#31882132) Homepage Journal

    The remarkable, novel thing about the Wii was using accelerometers in its controller. That means you're not just applying force; you're doing so with a range of motion. That's aerobic exercise, using your own weight as the resistance.

    Isometrics are another good form of exercise, and they can be done with much simpler tools, since all you need to measure is force. But that isn't what the Wii is doing.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by mindbrane ( 1548037 ) weights. 'nuff said
      • Pushups. Pullups. Situps. Running. 'nuff said.
        • i actually sat for a minute coming up with some smart ass answers, but, really, i've got no argument with that, altho, i'd be less than honest if i didn't say swimming is a far better way to go than running. just in terms of an overall fitness programme, especially if you are seriously overweight; or, if like me, you've suffered a compression break on a femur and have joint issues
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I agree, swimming is better than running. I personally prefer running to swimming, due to the ability to just start running anywhere rather than go to a water source(pool, lake, ocean). Also, fewer speedos.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yeah, I don't see how Nintendo could possibly be infringing. Nintendo's games aren't used for isometric exercises, the only Nintendo device that even contains strain gauges is the Balance Board—and similar force platforms have been used since before IA's patents were filed.

      On the other hand, they didn't file in East Texas, so they must think they actually have a case...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 )
      Here is one of the patents []. If you look at the actual claims, you can see that what is needed is a device for doing isometric exercises, including a rod with a sensor that is used to detect force. The balance board alone doesn't have such a rod, so I think they needed to include the wii remote for it to count. It seems to me that the patent actually applies, as long as they can find any game that include isometric exercises (I've never played wii fit, so I don't know). Remember to understand if a patent
      • by KarmaMB84 ( 743001 ) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @04:24PM (#31883452)
        They're describing a single device in the patent. Pretty much all the claims require that whatever device they claim infringes infringe Claim 1 or 9 which requires that the device itself be an isometric exercise system including a frame to support the user and a sensor affixed to an elongated rod. Claim 1 uses the language "elongated rod" and Claim 9 also repeats this requirement. They patented a very specific invention (the one in their figures).

        At least as far as the first patent, I don't think they can get away with suing over 2 separate non-infringing inventions because they can be combined to serve a similar purpose for specific pieces of software.

        The second patent's early claims sound like electronic scales until the more specific claims. If I'm not mistaken, Nintendo was initially going to work with bathroom scale makers on the technology in the balance board so that's probably where they got their ideas from. Chances are these guys are going to have to prove electronic scales aren't prior art or that Nintendo is infringing based on the more specific claims (they're pretty specific about such things as use of metals, resins etc). I suspect they won't get it to fly on just the initial claims due to prior art then get shot down as soon as the claims involving materials pops up and Nintendo is using a different material in their invention. In fact, after looking over all the claims of the second patent... did they really just patent their own implementation of a damn scale?
    • by Altus ( 1034 )

      I'm having a hard time thinking of a single exercise in Wii Fit plus that is actually isometric. Pretty much all of them are dynamic.

      Some of the yoga poses might barely qualify, but stretching and exercise are not really the same thing.

  • Anybody have the patent numbers in question?
  • I have no idea how the Wii Wheel and Zapper could be infringing on their technology patents when they're nothing but plastic shells.
    • Hmm, perhaps the careless parents who killed their toddler with atrocious gun safety habits [] will sue the owners of the wii zapper patent and this other company as well.
      • How did those parents get a black zapper? I know Nintendo and Nyko sell their models only in white. (They could have painted it, but why bother.)
        • That was one of many questions left unanswered at the time. And if you look at the image closer, you'll see that the zapper isn't only black, but it was made to look especially similar to the actual gun that the idiot left loaded and ready to fire within easy reach of the toddler. Hence the idiot went out of his way to get that particular zapper ... perhaps a very, very, far ways out of his way.

          That said, young children are naturally curious, and will generally try to put just about everything they ca
  • just seems that the recipe is: Wait till someone makes an honest effort software product that makes them money, then someone pops up and sues for money, due to infringement.

    So sick of this.

    Also tired of copyright extensions that keep works out of public hands, but is off-topic for this /. article.

  • You use the scale as part of your excerise, ie. to check your weight.

    It requires balance, and if it's electric, it has some sort of computer (roughly) in it.

    It gets it's reading by the force of your gravity on it.

  • If they're suing over a precise piece of hardware/software, they might get a point. But it looks to me like they're suing over the idea of linking an interactive material to a game and that's just plain stupid.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    That the criminal litigation for conspiracy to commit murder is cheaper than litigating with the patent troll. At that point all you need is a service provider - and I'm sure the Mafia is ready to chip in to help free trade :D
  • by OrwellianLurker ( 1739950 ) on Saturday April 17, 2010 @03:44PM (#31883240)
    Do we hate Nintendo?
    • When they release system updates to prevent projects like WiiBrew from enabling homebrew hackers, we hate them. When they are the victim of patent trolling, they have our brief, sarcastic sympathy.
  • Patents used to cover the implementation of an idea rather then the idea itself? I seriously doubt that Nintendo's implementation of these ideas is exactly the same as this companies..

  • Decades ago, my dad had a Nordic Track ski machine. The flywheel has a magnet in it that connects to a sensor for the speed display. My dad had the idea to connect it to a serial port for logging purposes, so you could get a graph of your speed over time. I further suggested connecting your speed to a game, for visual motivation. MONEY PLEASE.
  • the only thing that would make this story totally awesome: this company makes the shake weight!

UNIX is many things to many people, but it's never been everything to anybody.