Nintendo Switch Controllers Hit With Patent Dispute: Legitimate Lawsuit Or Attempt To Leech Off Hybrid Console's Success?


Gamevice, which makes paired game controllers for mobile devices, has filed a lawsuit against Nintendo alleging patent infringement for the detachable controllers of the Nintendo Switch.

The controllers of the console, known as Joy-Cons, help in enabling its hybrid nature. They can be attached to the Nintendo Switch for portability, or detached to allow up to two players while the console is propped up on a surface or inserted into its dock.

Nintendo Switch Lawsuit Over Joy-Cons

Gamevice, formerly known as Wikipad, filed the lawsuit against Nintendo in California.

The accessory maker claims that the video game company infringed on a patent that it filed in 2012 and granted in 2015. The patent covers a "pair of control modules" that can be attached by users to a "separate and distinct" computing device. This idea was the basis for the Android gaming tablet known as the Wikipad, which the company released four years ago but is no longer in the market.

However, the Gamevice controllers that the company is currently selling works similar to the Joy-Cons. The controllers can be attached to both ends of Android and iOS devices, allowing players to have a traditional controller on their smartphone or tablet with two analog sticks, a directional pad, four action buttons, and shoulder buttons. Meanwhile, the main difference between the Gamevice controllers and the Nintendo Switch is that the former is an accessory, while the latter is a standalone console.

In the Nintendo lawsuit, Gamevice is seeking to receive damages for the infringement and to have production and sales of the Nintendo Switch banned. The complaint, however, did not specify an amount for the demanded damages.

Is The Nintendo Lawsuit A Legitimate One?

The massive Nintendo Switch success has pulled Nintendo back into relevance in the video game industry that it once dominated. In fact, the console could mark a new era for Nintendo, as its hybrid nature could allow the company to eventually drop its two-gadget strategy.

With sales doing extremely well and expected to do even better over the upcoming holiday shopping season, the lawsuit that Gamevice launched against Nintendo and the Nintendo Switch could be seen as an attempt to leech off the hybrid console's success.

However, Gamevice is not a patent troll, which acquires patents just to use them to force companies to settle infringements. The company's Wikipad tablet and Gamevice controllers might not be as popular as the Nintendo Switch, but Nintendo should definitely be careful with this lawsuit.

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