Wii Classic controller in jeopardy after Nintendo loses patent appeal

A patent infringement suit over some of Nintendo's game controllers will enter a Federal Court of Appeals following the $21 million verdict in favor of plaintiff Anascape.

In May, Texas-based Anascape won $21 million dollars from Nintendo in a patent infringement suit filed against the company for its game controller design. At the time, it was not disclosed which aspects were found to be in violation, but Nintendo said the Wiimote and nunchuck (part of its industry-leading Wii console) were safe.

As it turns out, the devices in violation of Anascape's patents were the Wii Classic, Wavebird, and GameCube controllers -- more specifically, their analog stick architecture. Now, these controllers could face discontinuation following U.S. District Court Judge Ron Clark's denial of Nintendo's bid to overturn the $21 million verdict, unless Nintendo puts the money in escrow or posts bond.

Nintendo will appeal the verdict in the Federal Circuit court of Appeals, delaying the possibility of a ban until the trial is complete.

Anascape's Lawyer Doug Cawley was quoted last week as accusing Nintendo of "clogging the channel," since Sony agreed to license Anascape's patent in 2004, and Microsoft settled out of court on the first of May. The company allegedly has interests beyond litigation and actually wants to begin production of its own controllers.

The suit from Anascape came shortly after Sony and Microsoft ended a similar controller patent battle with Immersion, the company that holds the "touch feedback" patent. That suit initially could have resulted in an injunction on Sony's DualShock controllers, but ultimately ended with a $121 million settlement.

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