Nintendo sued, peripheral maker says Switch infringes its patents

Nintendo is being sued again by Gamevice on the claim the design of the Nintendo Switch and its Joy-Con controllers infringes the design of Gamevice patents for controllers that also slide onto handheld gaming devices.

Additionally, Reuters on Tuesday reported that Gamevice had lodged a complaint against Nintendo with the U.S. International Trade Commission. In a statement, the ITC said it had begun an investigation into “certain portable gaming console systems with attachable handheld controllers and components,” naming Nintendo.

The nature of the complaint is the same as one Gamevice filed in August 2017 and withdrew two months later. It alleges that Nintendo was fully aware of two patents Gamevice held for designs that affix joystick controllers to opposite sides of a mobile device. In 2015, Gamevice launched this device (also called the Gamevice, pictured at top) and it supports Apple and Samsung smartphones and tablets. Nintendo announced the Switch in late 2016 and launched it in March 2017.

“Defendants [Nintendo] direct and instruct customers to assemble and use the components [the Joy-Con controllers] in an infringing manner,” Gamevice said in its complaint. “Defendants are aware that, absent infringement, the bundled Switch system will not have a substantial use because the Joy-Con Controllers need to be assembled in the infringing manner to recharge.”

Polygon has reached out to Nintendo for comment, but companies generally don’t comment on litigation pending against them.

The lawsuit Gamevice filed and withdrew last year concerned U.S. Patent No. 9,126,119. The lawsuit filed March 29 involves U.S. Patents No. 9,855,498 and No. 9,808,713. The first lawsuit was withdrawn for unknown reasons; it had been brought before U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, where Gamevice’s corporate headquarters are; the latest suit is in the Northern District of California.

It’s worth pointing out that, though Nintendo frequently is sued for patent infringement, this doesn’t seem to resemble a “patent troll” case. Gamevice is suing over devices it manufactures, not merely designs it holds. Also, a large number of so-called “patent troll” cases have been filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, though a recent Supreme Court ruling seeks to put a stop to that.

Polygon has also reached out to Gamevice for additional comment.

In its complaint with the ITC, Gamevice is asking that the commission issue orders blocking the import of Nintendo Switches into the country. The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and compensatory damages for the sale of infringing devices here.

Gamevice’s lawsuit complaint may be read below.

Gamevice, Inc., vs. Nintendo Co., Ltd. by Polygondotcom on Scribd