Philips wants to shut down the Wii U for patent infringement

Massive electronics conglomerate Philips is claiming that Nintendo has infringed upon a number of their patents with the Wii and Wii U, and are demanding that sales be immediately ceased in the United States.

“Philips has engaged in the field of applied electronics and has conducted research in areas relating to visual representation of spatial processes and to automatic processes,” the lawsuit claims, and specifies two particular patents that Nintendo has supposedly violated. The first patent is for technologies that capture and replicate users’ real-life actions in-game (“Interactive Virtual Modeling Products”), while the second regards “human-computer interaction systems (“HCI”) features, including but not limited to HCI gaming systems and HCI pointing devices.”

Philips Patent

The first patent was filed in 1996 and issued in 2001, well prior to the first Wii’s 2006 launch. The second patent for pointing devices, however, was not filed until 2009 and issued in September of 2013. Philips claims to have first informed Nintendo of both violations in 2011. With this new filing, Philips is now requesting a trial by jury for both claims.

Setting aside basic questions of obviousness and novelty (particularly in the timing of the second patent), this is an odd time for Philips to launch an assault on Nintendo and the Wii U, given its recent fiscal problems related to the console’s weak sales. If the Wii U was explosively popular, Philips moving in for a piece of the action would be a much clearer and more typical narrative. Demanding damages and stopping American sales off the Wii U, particularly just after the long-anticipated release of Mario Kart 8 and with Super Smash Bros on the horizon, would be a real kick in the teeth to Nintendo.

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