Nintendo controller patent challenge reanimated by appeals court

People stand in front of Nintendo’s logo in Tokyo, Japan January. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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  • Patent owner Genuine Enabling Technology said Nintendo game controllers violate data-patent rights
  • Fed Circuit panel said lower court gave too much weight to Nintendo expert

(Reuters) – Nintendo Co. must face claims that its Wii, Wii U, and Switch controllers violate a data-transmission patent for a second time after a U.S. appeals court decided to revive the case Friday.

A Seattle federal court misinterpreted Genuine Enabling Technology LLC’s patent when it found that Nintendo’s controllers did not infringe it, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said.

Genuine Enabling Technology (GET) owns a patent related to “combining data streams” to save computer resources. GET sued Nintendo in 2017, arguing the way its controllers communicate with its videogame systems infringe the patent.

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A Seattle federal court ruled for Nintendo in 2020, construing GET’s patent to cover devices transmitting data signals at higher frequencies than Nintendo’s controllers.

A three-judge Federal Circuit panel reversed the decision and sent the case back to the lower court on Friday, finding it misconstrued GET’s patent when it cleared Nintendo from the claims.

The appeals court also found that the district court gave too much weight to expert testimony Nintendo provided, and emphasized that “intrinsic evidence” should be more important for interpreting patents.

The Federal Circuit sent the case back to the lower court to reconsider GET’s claims based on the appeals court’s interpretation of the patent term.

The companies and their attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is Genuine Enabling Technology LLC v. Nintendo Co, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, No. 20-2167.

For GET: Devan Padmanabhan of Padmanabhan & Dawson

For Nintendo: Jerry Riedinger of Perkins Coie

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Blake Brittain

Washington-based correspondent covering court cases, trends, and other developments in intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Previous experience at Bloomberg Law, Thomson Reuters Practical Law and work as an attorney.

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