[Update] A leading electronic interface company this week filed a suit against Nintendo in a Delaware court claiming that the Wii’s trigger-happy controller infringes on existing patents.
In a court filing snagged by gaming blog Kotaku, Camarillo, California-based Interlink Electronics accuses Nintendo of selling infringing products in the district of Delaware, where the company holds some of its operations.
Interlink’s “Trigger Operated Electronic Device” patent (no. 6,850,221), filed in September 1997 and issued February 1, 2005, describes an “ergonomically effective mouse for operating a computer.”
The patent also reads, “This invention relates to a trigger operated electronic device. In particular, it concerns a mouse for operating a cursor in a computer system.”
Of course, the Nintendo Wii has a trigger-operated controller which is also used as a pointing device. Diagrams from Interlink’s patent bear a passing resemblance to the Wii Remote.
There does seem to be a significant difference between Interlink’s patent and Nintendo’s design, however. Whereas Nintendo’s controller moves an on-screen cursor by moving the actual input device in 3D, Interlink’s patent describes a pointing mechanism that centers around a touch-sensitive pad and buttons, not the movement of the entire unit (“The multiple control elements are responsive to finger pressure to operate switch elements…”).
Still, the suit primarily takes issue with the trigger element that is shared between the two designs.
Interlink said that because of the alleged infringement, it has suffered damages including loss of royalties and reduced sales and profits. The company is seeking a restraining order against the sale of Nintendo’s controller as well as three times the assessed damages including interest. Reimbursement of legal fees is also being pursued.
A trial by jury has been demanded as well.
Requests for comment from Interlink and Nintendo had not been returned as of press time.
[Update] Nintendo has since contacted Next-Gen, stating "Nintendo doesn't comment on pending litigation."