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Nintendo Are Being Sued Over The Switch's Detachable Joy-Con

The revenge of the Wikipad.

One of the Nintendo Switch’s greatest tricks is the ability to detach the controllers and play on TV or in tabletop mode, share the Joy-Con with a friend for multiplayer, and more. However, that functionality is landing them with a lawsuit from the creators of Wikipad, an ill fated project from 2012 to create an Android gaming tablet, which then turned to a more general purpose design under the new name Gamevice to support tablets and phones from other companies.

Here’s the Wikipad in all its half-decade old Android tablet glory:

Gamevice state that they have 41 patents in 10 countries, but it’s patent 9,126,119 that was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2015 that will come under scrutiny here. Entitled “Combination computing device and game controller with flexible bridge section“, their filing details first the general tablet design, then the input device that connects via a communication port, and a “structural bridge” to secure the two and connect them electronically together.

As is typical, Gamevice want to see Switch sales stopped and for a large settlement, which they wish to be determined in a trial by jury. Sadly this isn’t Game of Thrones, or I’m sure that Nintendo would go for a trial by combat, and simply send Reggie into the courtroom to crush whoever is foolish enough to stand in their way.

While I’m certainly not that well versed in patent law, it does seem that Gamevice have at least half a leg to stand on, even though the Nintendo Switch is a device with much broader and more interesting features than either Wikipad or Gamevice. On the other hand, Nintendo have hundreds of patents of their own. The 3DS’ Circle Pad Pro could be a key example for them to lean on in the US, and who knows what other patents they’ll be able to dig up to defend themselves with.

Source: RPX Insight, USPTO via Engadget

  1. Paulo Vinicius Radtke
    Since: Aug 2008

    I’d be shocked if Nintendo doesn’t hold some similar patent in the US and other countries that allow them to produce the Switch the way it is. It’s such a fundamental part of their concept, that they’d definitely secure it with a patent to reduce chances that a competitor launches a similar game console.

    Comment posted on 11/08/2017 at 15:50.
  2. ron_mcphatty
    Since: Sep 2008

    I can’t help but think that these folks are more concerned with money than their IP. Adding physical controls to a tablet is nothing new and none of the Gamevice products work in the same way as the Switch, which is uniquely laid out. Nintendo would do well to give them some money to stop complaining, IP law is fundamentally about protecting companies against undermining imitations, not cock-blocking others’ innovations.

    Comment posted on 11/08/2017 at 20:04.