In a recent legal case in federal court in Oakland, California, Nintendo was found innocent of multiple patent infringements brought to trial by Quintal Research Group, Inc. The allegations involved hardware found in the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance systems, Nintendo’s handheld consoles. It was announced in a press release on July 17th that Judge Armstrong dismissed the case when it was found that Nintendo had not, in fact, infringed on any of the mentioned patents.
Devon Pritchard, Nintendo of America’s General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Business Affairs made the following statement regarding the case:
We are very pleased to have this case dismissed. The result in this case continues to prove that Nintendo will vigorously defend its innovations against patent lawsuits and will not pay to settle cases simply to avoid litigation. Nintendo continues to support patent reform efforts that reduce the unnecessary and inefficient burden cases like this one place on technology companies in the United States.
While this is certainly an welcome legal victory for Nintendo, patent infringement is something the company deals with regularly. In the past five years alone, Nintendo has been brought to court on patent charges involving the Wii’s motion controls, digital storage hardware, Wii Sports peripherals, and the Wii Balance Board. Before the case on the 17th, the most recent and noteworthy legal dispute was back in February, 2014, where yet another case involving the 3DS and other handheld hardware used by Nintendo. The outcome there was nearly identical to this most recent trial and Richard Medway, Nintendo of America’s vice president and deputy general counsel, had this to say:
We are very pleased with the commission’s determination, which confirmed the judge’s finding that Nintendo’s products do not infringe the asserted patent. Nintendo’s track record demonstrates that we vigorously defend patent lawsuits, including cases in the ITC, when we believe we have not infringed another party’s patent. Nintendo continues to develop unique and innovative products while respecting the intellectual property rights of others.
Again, its all more of the same. Nintendo has plenty of funds to fill a legal roster with lawyers of tact and renown, but they’re far from alone in their battle against these sorts of accusations. For those unfamiliar with the terminology, many have taken to calling complainants in these types of cases “patent trolls,” as their aim isn’t to protect their intellectual property so much as it is to hurt or hinder Nintendo (or whoever is unfortunate enough to be brought to trial). Less financially well-off publishers and developers are rarely as fortunate.
To conclude, this has been neither the first nor the last patent troll to take Nintendo to court and unless Nintendo truly infringes on some patent with malicious intent sometime in the future, the outcome is likely to be the same every time.