Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo All Sued For Patent Infringement On Joystick Design

from the no,-seriously dept

It appears that all three of the game console makers, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are facing a patent lawsuit from a patent holding company for the way they designed their controllers. The patent in question is for a low-voltage joystick interface -- though, the fact that all of the game consoles on the market today use a similar technique suggests it's not a particularly non-obvious idea. As the link above notes, the patent holding company has been involved in a few other high profile patent lawsuits, but hasn't done so well with a few of them. Apparently, though, that's just incentive to keep on trying.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Mit, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 2:13am

    Going up against all three might not be that bad idea that it seems.

    Just think about it, all three console producers are going against each other like cat and dog at the moment so anything to gain an advantage will be worth doing.

    If i was microsoft for example i would pay the licence or whatever was requested and that would therefore give the patent holder the funds to fight the other two.

    Or they might be so inclined to team together and the patent holder would get trounced in court.

    mmmm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    MadJo (profile), Jan 10th, 2007 @ 2:56am

    Joysticks have been used for so long (it started with the Atari, AFAIK), I wonder why this company waited this long to start suing these three parties.

    The first joystick used by any of the three companies mentioned in the suit was with the Nintendo 64.
    After that we got the Playstation2, the Xbox, the Gamecube and now the PS3, Wii and Xbox360. All of those have joysticks in the controllers.

    The N64 alone is more than 10 years old! So why now?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    STJ, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 2:56am

    how about all the other Joysticks? There are other companies that make them for the PC or MAC, the Amaga(is that apple?). There are many other companies which should be included. If I were any of these companies I would demand all companies which make Joysticks be included, not just being segregated because they're big.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 3:08am

    Re:

    That would be Amiga, from Commodore/Amiga

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Exiled From the mainstream, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 3:13am

    Check under your bridges...

    Here be Patent trolls looking for a toll! This is one of those prime examples of just how fudged the patent system is. I'm amazed this stuff hasn't turned into "Everyone Vs. Everyone" court fighting yet. I mean, come on! How can something that was around most likely before this patent was ever made, be a valid, "innovatee's patent for his hard work" patent? And then theres the obviousness of it.

    The big three will do the financial equivalent of what vikings did to villages way back when we still thought the world was flat. And as much as I hate the money mongers I'd support them on this one. Supreme Court needs ammo that cases like this would generate in order to revise the patent system, if they ever get around to it. I'll be amazed if Fenner Investments, the suing company in question pulls this off, and lose faith in humanity at the same time...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Paul`, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 3:15am

    Re: MadJo

    the PS1 used a joy stick too. So do arcade consoles and whatever else you can think of.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    The i-Team, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 3:24am

    Only filed in 1998?

    So this patent was filed in 1998... Funny, I seem to remember using an analog joystick in 1988, doesn't this come under prior-art or something?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Is this important?, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 4:33am

    I think this patent does not apply to larger joystick but only the small "thumb sticks" that you find on the newer consoles (ps1 and up) ... Still it makes you wonder how come they waited until now to sue ... maybe they wanted to wait until it was wide spread enough

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 4:44am

    Re:

    Its also a bit more complex than that - the joystick in the patent can act as both a digital and analogue joystick at the same time as far as I can figure

    I never realised there was that much going on inside the hanset ;0)

    I with you though - why wait so long if not for trolling?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    bustalipp1, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 5:21am

    suing over patent

    I have a patent on a light beer i brewed a few years ago, that tastes just like COORS LIGHT, Bud Light and Miller Lite, I think I'll sue those companies because this is the USA and i can sue anybody over just about anything as we have become a country of stupid, selfish, hypocrite, lazy, freeloading, losers who really think were gonna believe people's crap like this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    bustalipp1, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 5:22am

    suing over patent

    I have a patent on a light beer i brewed a few years ago, that tastes just like COORS LIGHT, Bud Light and Miller Lite, I think I'll sue those companies because this is the USA and i can sue anybody over just about anything as we have become a country of stupid, selfish, hypocrite, lazy, freeloading, losers who really think were gonna believe people's crap like this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    JediN8, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 5:27am

    PVP is the answer

    Lets have an arena/thunderdome style battle when there is a patent dispute. Two lawyers enter, one lawyer leaves.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 5:28am

    Re: Re:

    This patent has nothing to do with the joystick. It is a patent for a "low-voltage joystick port interface". In other words, the patent is for the circuitry that translates movement in the joystick into a 1 or 0 and sends that data to a 'processor'.

    I agree with Mike, the idea is very obvious. It is interesting that the patent was filed July 10, 1998, but cites five patents that were issued after that date. Even more interesting is that one of the patents (5920734) cited is owned by Microsoft. So the patent troll is suing Microsoft for patent infringement when the patent in question cites a Microsoft patent. Yup, everything is perfectly fine in the world of IP.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 5:30am

    Re: suing over patent

    I've been using the joystick in my pants for longer than any of those systems have been around...and if you try to sue me...I'll beat you with it!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Evil Petting Zoo, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 5:42am

    Re: Re: suing over patent

    Aside from Vincent, this was the most relevant comment here. Of course this post is not relevant at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Avatar28, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 6:05am

    Call me crazy, but PS1/PS2/Xbox all basically use USB for their controllers do they not? I know the Xbox and Xbox360 do and I thought the Playstations did as well.

    The Dual Shock came out in Japan in 1997 and the US in May of 1998. Considering this patent wasn't filed until JULY of 1998, it seems to me that they're liable to have a problem there.

    Also, reading the patent description

    The joystick port interface includes an integrated circuit receiving an analog joystick position measurement signal and outputting a digital pulse signal to a processor which signifies a joystick coordinate value. The integrated circuit includes a pulse generator and a bidirectional buffer circuit. The bidirectional buffer circuit receives the analog joystick position measurement signal and selectively discharges an RC network capacitor which provides this analog measurement. This implementation provides a joystick port which uses low-voltage CMOS VLSI structures which can interface a conventional high-voltage joystick with the processor.


    sure sounds suspiciously similar to a PC game port:


    The typical implementation of a gameport uses a capacitor and a simple voltage comparator, which together form a sort of crude ramp-compare ADC, which needs to be periodically polled and reset at precise moments in order to read an input, something that needs to be done several times (generally above 30) per second in order to provide a responsive game input, and the actual acquisition frequency and value typically depend on the joystick's internal resistance, noise, CPU speed and the total joystick-capacitor's RC time constant.


    courtesy of answers.com

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 6:45am

    I hate to say it but..

    If they got issued a design patent on a thumb sized/usable joystick, they actually could have a case. But design patent is all it would fall under, AFAIK but IANAL.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 6:58am

    They may have a case...

    but don't you have to actively defend your patents or is that trademarks? If they had the patent back in 1998 why is it now 8 years later they are defending it? It would seem that the every Dreamcast, PS2/3, Xbox/360, GC (and classic controller for the Wii), and countless PC contrllers released after 1998 would have infringed on it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Steve Bryant, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 7:06am

    dismissed with prejudice implies settlement

    I wouldn't dismiss Fenner's chances out of hand. The fact that their lawsuit against Alcatel was dismissed with prejudice implies that there was some type of settlement involved.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Bumbling old fool, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 7:27am

    Re: dismissed with prejudice implies settlement

    Nope.

    Quite the opposite. Exactly the opposite.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    to #11, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 7:42am

    If you dont like the usa, then get out you bum

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 8:44am

    Re: They may have a case...

    They probably have been 'defending' it over the past 8 years. A lawsuit is usually the final step in defending your patent, trademark or copyright. Over the past 8 years, they probably have been sending cease and desist letters, "send us payment as soon as possible or be subject to litigation" letters and so on. I'm not condoning this practice - patent trolls should be wiped off the planet - just saying how it is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 9:08am

    Like the idea of lawyer brawls. Might even make a good reality tv show, dontcha think?
    "Watch the affidavits fly as lawyers get down and dirty in Season 35 of LawMania - where justice meets Sylvester Stallone"
    pah.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    SPR, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 9:11am

    Patent holders

    I wonder if they have patented the wheel?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 10:36am

    The Wheel has been patented. Granted the guy who did it did it as a joke but the fact that you could patent a device that's been in use for a few thousand years is worrisome.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Annoyed, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 11:06am

    To #21

    'If you dont like the usa, then get out you bum'

    Yes that's an intelligent attitude, I must say. The government can take our liberties and our freedom, right to trial before imprisonment, hand over most of the power to faceless corporations instead of the people. But if you don't like it, you're unAmerican. It's people like you who should be deported, or shot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 11:12am

    ignore them

    This seems like a good opportunity to try the defence of audacious dismissal I mentioned before. All three companies should issue a jointly written statement saying they do not recognise the claim because it has been brough by malice. Let the patent trolls batter their brains out on a brick wall until they either give up or run out of money.

    It's a shame the law does not recognise or have a way of dealing with a malicious action like this, otherwise there would be a nicer, more legal way to deal with this upstart troll. Unfortunately, as it stands, the moment they even acknowledge the letter they light the bonfire of wealth.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Matt Bennett, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 12:01pm

    The N64 is more than 10 years old? Damn I'm old. (29)

    It's like when I heard a song the other day, knew it, liked it, though it was fairly new song, looked on the little tag they had it and it was from 1999.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    RodTec, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 12:10pm

    Joy Stick Patent

    Bring back the Spaceorb 360

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    sceptic, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 1:15pm

    Re:

    The Wheel has been patented. Granted the guy who did it did it as a joke but the fact that you could patent a device that's been in use for a few thousand years is worrisome.

    That was in Australia after their IP law was revised, nothing to do with US.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    benji, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 2:29pm

    PSP

    what about the psp?? it has the tiny thumb joystick? would this count?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Sloth, Jan 10th, 2007 @ 5:00pm

    Re: Avatar28

    PS1 is nowhere close to USB except taht they are both serial.

    PS1 controller is really just a modded snes controller.
    Uses two shift registers to parrallel load the registers and shift the output every time it gets a clock pulse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Teknosapien, Jan 11th, 2007 @ 4:14pm

    Lets look at the other side

    Do you go to work for free or are you compensated for what you do / produce?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Ray Livingston, Jan 13th, 2007 @ 8:30am

    Re:

    The patent *is* for a PC-compatible joystick interface. I should know, I'm the "inventor" of this incredibly dumb patent. It never should have been issued. This just shows how screwed up the US patent system it these days. Fenner will no doubt extort some pretty good money from the console companies, simply because it's cheaper for them to pay Fenner off than to fight the case on merit. That's exactly why bottom-feeding vultures like Fenner exist. This isn't even really theit patent. It was originally owned by Lucent, but Lucent obviously sold it off. Or, more liklely, give it to Fenner as part of the settlement of another patent suit Fenner settled with Lucent last year.

    Regards,
    Ray Livingston

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    yay, Feb 26th, 2011 @ 3:46pm

    props

    Nice to see the " inventor" doesn't agree with the legal bs!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This