Nintendo loses Wii controller patent suit

Jury orders game company to pay $21 million in a case involving controllers for the Wii and GameCube consoles.

Margaret Kane Former Staff writer, CNET News
Margaret is a former news editor for CNET News, based in the Boston bureau.
Margaret Kane
2 min read

Updated at 6:27 a.m. with more details about the case. Updated again at 11:54 a.m. PST with Nintendo's statement.

Nintendo has been ordered to pay $21 million to a Texas company in a suit involving patents used in technology behind the company's Wii and GameCube systems, the Associated Press reported.

Anascape, a Lufkin, Texas-based company, sued Nintendo in 2006. A federal jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ruled in Anascape's favor on Wednesday.

A Nintendo representative said the company plans to appeal the verdict.

"We also expect the trial court to promptly reduce the dollar amount of the verdict significantly, as the amount was actually incorrectly calculated," Nintendo spokesman Charlie Scibetta said. "The correct calculation will result in a judgment that is a fraction of the current verdict."

According to court documents, Anascape had asserted that Nintendo's Wii Remote, Wii Classic, and Wii Nunchuk controllers, along with its Game Cube controllers, infringe on U.S. Patent No. 6,906,700, which describes a "3D controller with vibration" and was filed in November 2000.

In the end, the jury found that the Wii Remote and Nunchuck controllers didn't infringe on the patent, but the Wii Classic Controller, WaveBird controller, and Nintendo GameCube controllers did.

Nintendo argued in its latest court filings that there wasn't sufficient evidence that its products infringed that patent and that other inventions--particularly Sony's DualShock 2 controller, which went on sale in the United States in October 2000 and has also been the subject of patent litigation--predated Anascape's patent filing, rendering it obvious and invalid. As recently as Wednesday, the company asked the judge to throw out the case.

Anascape had also also sued Microsoft over the patents but settled with the company on May 1, just before the case went to trial, according to court documents.

The Eastern District of Texas, where the suit played out, has earned a reputation for speedy trials and plaintiff-friendly juries, consequently drawing more patent lawsuits than most other jurisdictions.

News.com's Anne Broache contribued to this report.