Friday, April 18, 2014
WASHINGTON - Nintendo, the world's biggest video-game maker, has won a second U.S. patent-infringement case this month, successfully defending its Wii system and adding to a trend of companies fighting royalty demands and winning.
Nintendo didn't infringe Copper Innovations Group's patent for a method of interaction between a computer and a device such as a joystick, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington ruled Tuesday. On May 13, the court said the Wii didn't infringe a system to track a player's position.
Corporations such as Kyoto, Japan-based Nintendo, discount retailer Overstock.com and electronics seller Newegg are prevailing against claims from licensing companies that own patents and seek royalties from manufacturers and service providers that use similar methods or technology.
"Our policy is, if you come after us with spurious claims, we'll fight you because we're not settling," said Mark Griffin, general counsel for Salt Lake City-based Overstock. "Bullies need to have their noses bloodied once in a while."
Olivia Luk, a lawyer at Niro, Haller & Niro in Chicago who argued Copper's appeal on May 6, declined to comment. Copper was started by Jack Copper, who made 2,000 devices based on his invention before going out of business, she said.
It isn't always the patent owner that gets bloodied. Nintendo lost a jury verdict in March in a case brought by a former Sony engineer over three-dimensional images in Nintendo's 3DS system. Nintendo is seeking to have the $30.2 million verdict overturned. In 2010, it won a reversal of a $21 million judgment in a case it lost over game controllers.
"Nintendo is very pleased," the company said in a statement about Tuesday's ruling.
"Nintendo has a passionate tradition of developing innovative products while respecting the intellectual-property rights of others," Richard Medway, Nintendo of America's general counsel, said in a statement following its May 13 victory against Motiva, a patent holder.
Two other licensing companies are trying to revive infringement claims they lost to Nintendo. The appeals court in Washington heard arguments last month in a dispute involving computer memory and is set for a June 6 hearing over video-game control technology. In the latter case, Nintendo also was awarded almost $236,100 in legal fees against the patent owner.
Overstock and Newegg, based in City of Industry, Calif., won a May 15 appeals court decision in Washington that invalidated an Alcatel-Lucent patent on online shopping. In a separate e-commerce patent case, Newegg won a January ruling over claims asserted against it, as well as companies such as Oracle and EBay.
Also this month, appellate judges in Washington sided against patent-licensing firms in cases against mobile-telephone companies, including Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp., over marketing techniques. Barnes & Noble won over claims against its Nook electronic readers and BMW carmaker BMW prevailed in a case involving its financial- services unit.
Based on complaints from technology companies including Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, Congress is considering proposals such as creating a new review system for certain types of software patents, forcing a patent owner who loses a case to pay the other side's legal fees, and requiring patent owners to make clear who benefits financially from litigation.