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.

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Comments on “Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo All Sued For Patent Infringement On Joystick Design”

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Mit says:

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.


MadJo (profile) says:

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?

Exiled From the mainstream says:

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…

Vincent Clement says:

Re: 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.

bustalipp1 says:

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.

bustalipp1 says:

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.

Avatar28 says:

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

Ray Livingston says:

Re: 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.

Ray Livingston

Sanguine Dream says:

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.

Vincent Clement says:

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.

Annoyed says:

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.

misanthropic humanist says:

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.

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