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Interlink's trigger design for its wireless pointing device
Nintendo faces legal threats, but it has nothing to do with Wiimotes smashing TVs

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 its idea.

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.



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I've solved it!
By Spivonious on 12/11/2006 9:28:10 AM , Rating: 2
From the patent:

quote:
There is an infra-red output signal transmitted to a receiver for operating the computer.


The Wii Remote has no infra-red output of any kind. Therefore, the Interlink device is different.




RE: I've solved it!
By bigboxes on 12/11/2006 9:51:28 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
The Wii Remote has no infra-red output of any kind. Therefore, the Interlink device is different.


Not attempting to justify this stupid lawsuit, but I have an interlink remote and it is RF. That's one of the reasons I got it.


RE: I've solved it!
By Johnmcl7 on 12/11/2006 11:17:36 AM , Rating: 2
As far as I'm aware the Wiimote does use an IR sensor bar which has to be placed beside or under the TV.

John


RE: I've solved it!
By Saist on 12/11/2006 12:01:01 PM , Rating: 3
The Wii uses an Infra-Red sensor in order to correctly place the "pointer" on a TV screen. That is the little bar you have to setup either on top of, or below, your TV screen.


RE: I've solved it!
By dlapham on 12/11/2006 1:13:11 PM , Rating: 5
This is correct. The Wii Remote has no "output". The 'sensor' bar is actual just an array of infrared LED's. The are on when the Wii is on. The cable connecting it to the Wii is for power and nothing ellse. The remote has Infrared sensative CCD or CMOS sensors on the front of it that triagelate the cursors position on the TV based on the LED's that are located on the sensor bar which is on top or underneath your TV.

Don't bealive me, then do this. Unhook your sensor bar. Get two candles and but one on each side of your TV. Turn off the lights (prevents interferance). Now try out your Wii remote. It will work quite well when in front of the TV.


RE: I've solved it!
By Lord Evermore on 12/11/2006 11:24:44 PM , Rating: 2
They're suing over the trigger design on any vaguely remote-control shaped controller, not saying that the entire device is the same as their own.

I think any sort of trigger design would count as "obvious". There's all sorts of things that have the same basic design, you hold some vaguely cylindrical object in your hand, and use one or more fingers on the underside to squeeze a trigger to perform an action, perhaps with other controls on top. First thing I thought of is a simple garden sprayer, but even any previous video game controller with a trigger would seem to be a precursor.

Did Interlink actually think people would enjoy working the circular direction pad with the side of their index finger, and using their middle finger for the trigger?


Wow
By ThisSpaceForRent on 12/11/2006 5:25:38 AM , Rating: 3
I thought it was silly when they did software patents, but a copyright for a trigger? Al Gore must run this company, because, after all, Al Gore invented the trigger. He might have even invented the Wii, and I think he invented the environment too.

The above Al Gore statement was made to make light of the trigger patent. My statements in no way reflect my actually views on any person living, or dead. This disclaimer is posted to avoid the invetiable posts from persons who take my words at their literal meaning.




RE: Wow
By encryptkeeper on 12/11/2006 10:23:53 AM , Rating: 4
You damn republican!!!!!!!!!!! Long live Premier Bush!



J/K man, I couldn't help myself.


RE: Wow
By oTAL on 12/11/06, Rating: -1
RE: Wow
By Saist on 12/11/2006 5:26:50 PM , Rating: 2
I have a couple of slight issues with this. First, much of Wikipedia's political aligned content is contested. Wikipedia has earned a reputation for being about as accurate as a Star Wars Storm Trooper circa 1979 original release of Star Wars. So, take anything read there with a couple gallons of salt.

Second. Al Gore is an east coast person. Last time I checked he had no significant political presence on the west coast. The internet as developed by Sir Tim B. Lee was developed in west coast universities in partnership with the US military.

Third. Al Gore and his party are typically anti-military anything. I find it hard to believe that a guy who has a voting record on slashing military power and funding would ever vote on anything that would improve the military(ies) communications. Considering that the internet was originally built as DARPA-net and evolved from there, Al Gore's political motives simply don't place him in the right place to have had any political motive to help with the Internet.

Forth. Time: considering when the Internet as we know it really began, Al Gore wasn't even a blip on the political radar.

Basically, I stand by the views taken by the students, professors, and military personal who developed the internet. Al Gore had nothing to do with it. End of story.


RE: Wow
By oTAL on 12/13/2006 3:24:44 PM , Rating: 2
A quick search on Google:
"According to Vincent Cerf, a senior vice president with MCI Worldcom who's been called the Father of the Internet, "The Internet would not be where it is in the United States without the strong support given to it and related research areas by the Vice President in his current role and in his earlier role as Senator."

Cerf_and_Kahn:
"[A]s the two people who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that make the Internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore's contributions as a Congressman, Senator and as Vice President. No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time.
Last year the Vice President made a straightforward statement on his role. He said: "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet." We don't think, as some people have argued, that Gore intended to claim he "invented" the Internet. Moreover, there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore's initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet. The fact of the matter is that Gore was talking about and promoting the Internet long before most people were listening. We feel it is timely to offer our perspective."

http://www.perkel.com/politics/gore/internet.htm
http://sethf.com/gore/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Gore#Cerf_and_Kahn...

Of course nobody will read it now and I'll keep my -1 rating which is wonderful... lol
Hooray for disinformation ;)


Well...
By Samus on 12/11/2006 3:47:48 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see this going anywhere. Nintendo clearly had the technology in production a year before Interlink patented anything.

I'd be bold enough to say Interlink patented a product that already existed, if their defense really is 'Nintendo is infringing on the trigger'




RE: Well...
By leidegre on 12/11/06, Rating: 0
RE: Well...
By Targon on 12/11/2006 9:20:49 AM , Rating: 2
If there were no "prior art", and the company DID make the first device with such a design, then it would be a legit complaint. Think about it, if you really do come up with a new concept(which wasn't as difficult back in the 1980s and 90s), then it's justified that those who came up with it get compensation.

Now, there are a LOT of cases over the past 5 years that have come from companies that don't have a product, never have had a product, or had a product that failed well before another company came up with a similar device that didn't fail.

Now, this case will clearly end up with Nintendo winning, but if the company that complains did get a patent and was not aware of Nintendo's "prior art", then it wouldn't be unjustified on their part, though their patent would get thrown out as a result.

Please look at each case, and try to understand when a company/individual has a legit complaint(from their perspective), because there ARE a number of valid and justified complaints. Not every patent case is the result of a failed company trying to scam money, so each one needs to be looked at individually.

As I stated previously, there is a clear case of "prior art" on the part of Nintendo, but since this patent really was granted, the case itself should not be thought of as "just trying to scam money from Nintendo".


RE: Well...
By sprockkets on 12/11/2006 1:48:40 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, think of all the people who will not buy the Interlink remote because they can buy the Nintendo one and use that to control their tv, projector or cable box instead!


RE: Well...
By Milliamp on 12/11/2006 4:02:25 PM , Rating: 2
Not true, the patent may not actually have been granted till recently, but they probably filed for the patent ~3 years ago.


lightgun
By zam786 on 12/11/2006 8:40:38 AM , Rating: 2
didnt the light gun for the Nes have a trigger and that cam out in the late 80s




RE: lightgun
By Saist on 12/11/2006 12:02:20 PM , Rating: 2
*holds one up*

Yes. yes it did. The Super Nintendo also had a Light-Action gun with a trigger if memory serves.


RE: lightgun
By Aquila76 on 12/11/2006 5:19:07 PM , Rating: 2
It was a light-action BAZOOKA, not a gun. That thing was F'ing HUGE. I think that in light of these and Nintendo's other controllers, this case is going to SCO territory.


Interesting...
By FITCamaro on 12/11/2006 6:51:57 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
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 its idea.


This is what I was thinking. That its similar to the N64 trigger. So I seriously doubt Interlink has a case at all.

And yes I really hate all the patent lawsuits going on today. Seems once any company gets big enough, they're hit with a patent lawsuit at least once. A company I used to work for got hit with one just as they were really starting to emerge in the market. Was from a competitor that wasn't doing very well.




RE: Interesting...
By redbone75 on 12/11/2006 7:20:02 AM , Rating: 2
Totally agree with the N64 reference. Not only that, there were games for the N64 that required the user to hold the controller in a way that mimicked holding a device with a trigger. Wait, that was pretty much every game, and that device, I guess, was their own controller. Didn't Nintendo patent the N64 controller design anyway?

quote:
Interlink filed its patent for its trigger operated electronic device on September 17, 1997.

OK... so the N64 controller wasn't a trigger operated electronic device? How in the heck did Interlink get a patent anyway? Would be funny and well deserved if their patent was revoked as a result of their own lawsuit.


RE: Interesting...
By masher2 (blog) on 12/11/2006 8:15:36 AM , Rating: 2
> "How in the heck did Interlink get a patent anyway?"

Because patent examiners are poorly educated, poorly supervised, and lacking any real incentive to do their job properly. I have more than a few patents myself, and seeing what they will and won't approve is truly humorous at times.


fucking retarded
By ElJefe69 on 12/11/2006 5:10:55 AM , Rating: 2
waaa!! I built this 10 years ago, but because im a fucking retarded moron who can't market anything and can't MAKE THE DAMN THING, I am going to whine about...

a trigger...

WOW! that is a new device! Triggers are so revolutionary!

yeah.




RE: fucking retarded
By peternelson on 12/11/2006 6:11:02 AM , Rating: 2
It's a concept known as "prior art".

For "trigger", please refer to Colt45.


They Lost Nothing
By copiedright on 12/11/2006 6:39:09 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
“loss of reasonable royalties, reduced sales and/or lost profits as a result of the infringing activities.”


How did they lose money when no product went to market to compete in the first place?

And royalties were not deserved as they provided no standard or design information.




RE: They Lost Nothing
By Aikouka on 12/11/2006 8:28:13 AM , Rating: 2
I was wondering the same thing... I mean, the only viable option they have is royalties at best, but loss of revenue... to what? I could see if this was a company like Mad Catz or someone that actually produced a controller device for consoles, but this is some entirely different system/setup. The Wiimote and this device design in the patent are both electronics, but they aren't even made to compete against eachother. So, how would the wiimote drop sales and hurt profits on an unrelated device?

Unless they pull a rabbit out of their hat and say that since people couldn't afford their product after they bought a Wiimote ;).

It's just someone trying to make a quick buck off someone else's (Nintendo) success to placate their own failure. I don't know about anyone else, but these kinds of actions are getting a bit tiring :/.


Countersue
By lemonadesoda on 12/11/2006 10:51:36 AM , Rating: 3
I hope Nintendo has a brilliant (and aggressive) lawyer on this case. I want them to countersue:

1./ Demonstrate that interlink's patent is a false patent where Nintendo had prior art

2./ Demonstrate interlink registered this patent with malicious intent and breach of copyright

3./ Sue interlink for every penny they've got PLUS one dollar

4./ PLUS one dollar puts them out of business

I hope this case turns into a precedent for malicious patent trolling.




Go Nintendo
By zerocool84 on 12/11/2006 3:48:47 AM , Rating: 2
Hopefully this goes in favor for nintendo as i really like nintendo and dont want some lawsuit to cost them any revenue that they need in this generation of console wars. seeing as they had the console out not too long after the patent was filed means that they had developed the z-trigger long before that. also 10 years after that z-trigger has been out and finally filing a lawsuit?




God only knows
By xphile on 12/11/2006 5:38:23 AM , Rating: 2
what Roy Rogers would have to say!




I'm sorry...
By Locutus465 on 12/11/2006 6:59:44 PM , Rating: 2
But how many devices have a trigger exactly like this one on them? I hope these people get destroyed.




By msva124 on 12/11/2006 11:34:29 AM , Rating: 1
I patented all three character letter-number combinations ranging from 111 to ZZZ back in 1986. Including, of course, N64.

Eat that, Nintendo.




...
By AzureKevin on 12/11/2006 11:52:02 AM , Rating: 1
*Rolls eyes*




Loss of earnings how?
By Meaker10 on 12/11/06, Rating: -1
"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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