With all the reports of snapping Wii Remote
wrist straps causing broken TVs, Nintendo has been hit with the first
lawsuit over its controllers. The surprising thing, however, is that the
complaint is not because of a broken TV, but rather patent infringement.
Interlink Electronics is suing Nintendo over the Wii Remote’s
trigger button, which Interlink claims to be its own original patented design
(patent no. 6,850,221).
Interlink states in its filing:
Nintendo has made,
used, offered for sale and sold in the United States, and continues to make,
use, offer for sale and sell in the United States one or more controllers which
activities infringe, induce others to infringe, and/or contributorily infringe
the '221 patent.
Interlink goes on to state that it is seeking compensation
for “loss of reasonable royalties, reduced sales and/or lost profits as a
result of the infringing activities.” To read the entire legal filing, see the
story on Kotaku.
On the topic of triggers, the Wii Remote trigger feels and
operates in a similar fashion to the Z-trigger found on the Nintendo 64, which
was released in North America on September 29, 1996. Interlink filed its patent
for its trigger operated electronic device on September 17, 1997. While the
three-pronged N64 controller is much differently shaped than a remote, it shows
that Nintendo had the trigger design in its labs long before Interlink patented
This is not the first time a game console maker has been
sued over its controllers. Immersion sued Sony and Microsoft over its force
feedback controller vibration technology during the previously generation of
consoles. Microsoft settled with immersion by paying royalties for every
controller sold, while Sony put up a fight. Sony suffered defeat in the
courtroom and ended up paying over $80 million to Immersion. Some point to the
lawsuit as the reason for Sony not including any vibration feature in the
PlayStation 3 controller.