Nintendo And Philips In Legal Dispute Over Wii Controller


Philips Electronics has won a legal case against Nintendo in the United Kingdom over a dispute involving the Wii controller. The patent involved in the controversy is based on a gesture tracking and motion control system that Philips uses in set-top boxes for its devices. Nintendo and Philips were in talks about the patent, but nothing became of it, so Philips decided to begin legal action in a number of different countries.

Originally, Philips sued over three different patents in the United Kingdom back in 2012, but only two of them have held up. The two patents judged to be infringed are for a “user interface system based on a pointing device.” In the details of the patent there is a description of a computer system with a handheld pointing device attached that has both a physical motion sensor and a camera. The intention of the device is for gesture commands from a user’s hands to communicate to a fixed in place unit that analyzes the motion trajectory of the user’s hand gestures. The Philips’ patent says the technology could be used for playing virtual games.

The court said that even though there are systems on the market that are similar, no prior inventions had used the same combinations of gesture analysis and sensors. For example, Sony created a handheld game system that used a camera, but it does not monitor trajectory or have a motion sensor. The extremely popular Wii Tennis game is the primary example of the combination of a camera and a motion sensor device incorporated together to infringe upon Philips’ claim.

Philips said it was very happy with the decision in the legal dispute with Nintendo over their Wii Controller. Philips does offer a license agreement for their products, but when they tried to negotiate with the Japanese based company back in 2011, the two companies could not reach an agreement so they decided to file suit. A spokesman said they were not sure how things would proceed and declined to comment on any damages claims that could be possible besides saying Philips is looking for “fair compensation for the use of our patents.”

Nintendo is already struggling to revitalize sales numbers for the Wii console because consumers are turning away from gaming consoles as they are attracted to inexpensive games on mobile devices. The Japanese based company sold only 2.72 million Wii U units in 2013 with numbers ending in March of 2014. This was lower than their forecasted number set in January of 2014, which was previously lowered.

Philips has also brought up court cases against Nintendo in other countries besides the United Kingdom, including France in 2013, Germany in 2012 and the United States of America as recently as last month. None of the other three cases have been finished. This win in the U.K. will surely help in the other three cases but ultimately it is up “to the local authorities in those countries,” according to the Philips spokesman, Bjorn Teuwsen. Initial reports are suggesting that a financial sum will be disclosed as soon as next month. The official case title for the legal dispute over the Wii Controller is Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV versus Nintendo of Europe GmbH, case number HC12E04759, United Kingdom High Court of Justice, Chancery Division.

By B. Taylor Rash

PC World