Published in News

Nintendo bitten by something which is not a Texas patent troll

by on05 September 2017

Has to pay $10.1 million because Wii players fall over a lot

The former maker of playing cards, Nintendo, has been told that it has to pay $10 billion to a Dallas medical motion-detection company which claims to have invented motion sensors to detect when old people fall over. 

The outfit called iLife sued Nintendo in 2013 after filing lawsuits against four other companies in 2012. The case went to a jury trial in Dallas, and yesterday the jury decided that Nintendo infringed US Patent No. 6,864,796, first filed in 1999, which describes "systems and methods for evaluating movement of a body relative to an environment".

ILife designed its body sensor to tell if elderly people had fallen over. All details of the product have since been removed and the company's website has been pulled.

Nintendo got off lightly when it came to money.  The $10.1 million was less than 10 percent of what iLife's attorneys had been asking for. When the trial began in Dallas on August 21, Law360 reported that iLife lawyers asked the jury for a $144 million payout. That damage demand was based on a royalty of $4 per Wii unit, multiplied by 36 million systems sold in the six years before the lawsuit was filed.

The company insists that it is not a patent troll. iLife and its CEO Michael Lehrman are the original inventors of this technology, "and the company does not enforce any patents that it did not develop," Dunwoody said.

"Unlike so-called patent trolls, iLife also has a history of developing and bringing to market products using their technology...The company spent many years researching and millions of dollars developing the environment-based motion detection technology at issue in this suit."

However it is not clear what products iLife sold, if any. Archived versions of the company's webpages show that it marketed a fall detection device for the elderly. But the verdict form (PDF) states that one of the jury's findings is that there weren't any sales of the "Healthsensor 100" at all, from the time the patent issued in 2005 until the lawsuit was filed in December 2013.

The iLife website has been taken down, and Lehrman is now spearheading Sleep Methods Inc. The Sleep Methods website says the company has "developed a spectrum of patented technologies that will be commercialised across a suite of medical devices to promote better, more healthful sleep".

Nintendo has said it will appeal the verdict, and the company points out that the patent that the Wii was found to infringe is related to accidental falls. Even if the patent was correct, you have to question how much of the Wii's activity has to do with falling over.

"Nintendo disagrees with the decision, as Nintendo does not infringe iLife’s patent and the patent is invalid," the company told Glixel, Rolling Stone's video game blog, in a statement. "Nintendo looks forward to raising those issues with the district court and with the court of appeals."


Last modified on 05 September 2017
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Read more about: