The Nintendo Switch has been a runaway hit for the Japanese gaming company, with folks around the world having snapped up more than 15 million units of the popular gaming console already. But the Switch’s road to success thus far hasn’t been without its pitfalls — first, there was the report of the unpatchable exploit, and now, there’s more bad news. Nintendo is officially under investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission, which means that the beloved Switch may be in hot water.
The investigation comes as the result of an accusation from Gamevice, the company that makes the Wikipad and a now-familiar collection of snap-on controllers. Gamevice claims that the Nintendo Switch is in violation of its patent “Combination Computing Device and Game Controller with Flexible Bridge Section,” which deals with attachable handheld gamepads.
The initial complaint was levied last August, when Gamevice filed a lawsuit requesting that Nintendo cease sales of the Switch, and pay damages, attorney fees, costs, and expenses for the suit as well. And while things seemed to go quiet for a few months afterward, it would appear that Gamevice is gaining steam again.
The USITC has now begun an investigation of Nintendo, relating to its practices both in the U.S. and in Japan. While there has yet to be any specific action taken against the company, an administrative law judge will be tasked with determining whether Nintendo is guilty of patent infringement. “The products at issue in the investigation are controller systems with parts that attach to two sides of an electronic device, such as a smartphone or tablet, and the parts fit into a user’s hands and have gaming controls,” the USITC’s noted in an announcement.
This process, however, could take several months. And during that time, Nintendo can keep selling its Switch.
But don’t worry — even if Gamevice were to win this fight, it’s unlikely that the Switch would disappear altogether. After all, the Switch is a huge moneymaker, and Gamevice would most likely look to receive court-ordered royalty payments.
We should also point out that while the USITC has started its investigation, it hasn’t yet determined whether or not Gamevice’s complaint is actually legitimate. The commission will first have an evidentiary hearing to see if Nintendo is violating any rules or regulations, and a decision on this front is to be rendered “at the earliest practicable time.”
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