Latest Pointless Patent Claims: Who Invented The Wii Controller?

from the you-need-to-own-a-patent-to-enforce-it dept

One of the problems we have in the various discussions about patent and copyright law is that people falsely assume that both systems are designed to give “credit” to the original creator and to somehow enforce “fairness” in making sure that original creator receives recognition. That has never been the case. Both are designed to create monopolies, to provide incentives to create. That has nothing to do with credit — and, that’s especially clear in patent situations where the actual people named on the patent are rarely parties to a case, as it’s more often owned by a firm (such as the company the person worked for). Most companies require that their employees assign any patents to the company. So it seems fairly ridiculous to find out that a guy who doesn’t actually own the patents he received is pissed off at Nintendo for using his idea in their Wii controllers. The guy worked for Midway Games, a popular videogame maker, who now owns the patents in question. It’s difficult to see what his complaint is, since the patents are no longer his and Midway does not appear to have any problem with what Nintendo has done. In the video itself, a patent attorney suggests that the Wii seems to go well beyond the patents in question and it seems unlikely that Nintendo is infringing — but since the few second demo looks similar, it makes for a nice news cast claiming someone “stole” an idea.

The likely situation is probably a lot less interesting. Lots of folks have been working on motion sensing videogame controllers for quite some time. This wasn’t a new concept that sprung up overnight. There are also many different ways to create such a tool and just because the end results look similar, don’t mean that a patent was infringed. However, an even bigger point is one that we’ve been trying to drive home for a while. The invention part is only one small part of the equation. Innovating and actually bringing the product to market is more important — and that’s what Nintendo did successfully. This guy worked for a gaming company and came up with a prototype six years ago and didn’t do anything with it. While lots of folks were trying to come up with motion sensing gaming devices, Nintendo successfully brought one to market.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: midway, nintendo

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Latest Pointless Patent Claims: Who Invented The Wii Controller?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

If you watch towards the end of the “video itself” link (in the TD article), the reporter says that the ex-Midway employee aigned away all his rights to whatever he created while at Midway, in order to accept his termination severance pay check. Because of this, I don’t see where he thinks he has any sort of case here – Possibly Midway, but not this ex-Midway employee guy.

marc says:

if the company made the inventor sign away his rights to collect a severance check then the company broke laws covering employment in the state where this all happened.

Midway basically held his paycheck hostage which is a direct violation of labor law, the guy is going about this case all wrong, he could get the agreement voided if he attacked them on the labor laws pertaining to these issues.

Michael says:

Legal Action

Severance checks are voluntary on employers part, so there would be no employment laws broken by requiring them to sign away the patents. A lot of companies will use this legitimate form of bribery to even have the employee sign agreements that they are not allow to sue the company. Unforunately, he most likely will not be able to get the agreement voided.

James says:

Big Difference Here...

If this guy had made a Bluetooth controller independently of a company (for example, if he had worked for McDonald’s instead of Midway Games) that does everything the Wii Remote does, and if he had retained the patent years before anyone had even heard of the Wii, yes, then he might have a case.

Instead, he’s indicated, in an interview yesterday with Engadget, that he’s pretty much broke and looking for a quick buck, and he thinks this is the way to go about doing it. Now, with regard to the severance check, he might be able to convince a judge to void the agreement. I don’t mean it’s at all legal or correct or moral or right, I just mean if he finds the right judge, he’ll be able to snow him with a sob story.

mjakowlew says:

All about the Recognition

In the latest Engadget article he says that “I just wanted to people to know. Wanted the truth to come out. Did this 8 years ago, and the Wii has been such a huge deal, I wanted the truth to get out there. It wasn’t these two or three Japanese guys that came up with this thing.” He doesn’t have any plans on suing anybody. He just wants some recognition… that’s it.

James says:

Re: All about the Recognition

Yes, but further down in the interview they ask him if he’s considered purchasing a Wii – his response:

Right now Goschy is doing engineering consulting work to pay the bills, and when asked if he could take a few shots of his controller alongside Nintendo’s, told us that he “can’t afford a Wii.”

If he hadn’t said that, I’d have been inclined to believe he might legitamately be going after them for recognition alone. That sentence says to me “my bills came due and I regretted giving up my patents and now I want them back so I can reap a huge windfall and live high on the hog and make videos about technology in my underpanties.”

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...