Nintendo's Wii infringes on Philips' remote control patents, UK court rules

Similar cases are pending in the US, Germany and France

Nintendo's Wii and Wii U game consoles infringe two Philips remote control patents, the England and Wales High Court ruled Friday.

Philips sued Nintendo in 2012, alleging the game consoles infringed three of its remote control patents. The court found one of those patents invalid, but ruled that the game consoles infringed amended versions of the other two patents.

Both infringed patents are for a "user interface system based on a pointing device." The patents describe a computer system with a handheld pointing device with both a camera and a physical motion sensor. The device is used for hand-gesture commands to a fixed unit with the gesture analysis based on motion trajectory of the device. The system uses room localization beacons and Philips' patent says that this technology could be used for playing games, the court said.

While there are similar systems on the market, there are no prior inventions that use the same combination of sensors and gesture analysis, the court said. For instance, Wacom's version has no physical motion sensor and no gesture analysis. Sony also made a game system with a handheld unit that uses a camera, but that system does not monitor trajectory and has no physical motion sensor, the court said.

Philips claim to the patent related to a device with a camera and a motion sensor is valid, the court said. "The Nintendo Wii system set up with Wii Tennis is an example of that combination and therefore infringes the claim," it said.

Philips welcomed the decision, but a spokesman was unable to say what will happen next. "It remains to be seen how this will proceed," he said, declining to comment on a possible damages claim.

Philips offers a license for its remote control patents, the spokesman said. It tried to negotiate a license agreement with Nintendo starting in 2011, but when that failed it filed suit, he said.

The company also sued Nintendo over the same patents in Germany in 2012, in France in 2013 and last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. In the latter case, Philips is seeking a ban on U.S. imports and sales of Wii and Wii U consoles. Those three cases are still pending.

Nintendo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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