Console Wars

The motion technology in Nintendo’s popular Wii and Wii U games consoles has been the subject of ongoing patent litigation with Philips. In a recent decision of the UK High Court, Philips emerged the winner.

Philips alleged that three of its patents were infringed by Nintendo, who countered that the patents were invalid over the prior art, common general knowledge, and because of added subject matter. Prior art cited by Nintendo included the Sega arcade game “Heavyweight Champ” and Namco’s “Alpine Racer” arcade game.

After hearing arguments from the counsel, and expert witnesses from both sides, the judge, Mr Justice Birss, held that one of the patents was invalid and that the other two were invalid as granted but valid as subsequently amended. The two amended patents were held to be infringed by the Wii and Wii U consoles.

In giving judgment, Birss J. said: “The common general knowledge did not include a device combining a physical motion sensor with a camera and the reasons advanced by Nintendo for putting those two sensors together in one unit are unconvincing. Also the common general knowledge did not include any game based on analysing hand waving gestures.

With corresponding litigation ongoing in other jurisdictions, stakes are high and Nintendo may elect to appeal the decision.