Why the International Trade Commission is Investigating Nintendo After a Patent Infringement Case

Attribution @BagoGames
Attribution @BagoGames


The United States’ International Trade Commission (ITC) stated on Tuesday that it will investigate Nintendo after a rival gaming console developer alleged that imports of the new Nintendo Switch console with the detachable controllers (which are referred to by Nintendo as joy-cons) infringe its patents.

This is in response to a lawsuit filed by Gamevice, a California-based video game company, against the international gaming giant Nintendo. Gamevice’s lawsuit, which was filed earlier this year on March 29, alleged that Nintendo “unlawfully and unfairly” imported and sold the Nintendo Switch and Switch-related accessories, claiming that such actions violated Gamevice’s patents for handheld gaming devices with detachable controllers. Around seven patents have been referenced throughout the lawsuit, all of which revolve around gaming controllers. Along with seeking damages, costs, attorney’s fees, and interest, Gamevice is also seeking a permanent injunction to bar the imports of the Nintendo’s latest console, the Nintendo Switch, into the U.S.

The ITC said that after considering Gamevice Inc.’s initial complaint, it will probe whether Nintendo Co. Ltd. and its U.S. subsidiary Nintendo of America Inc. has violated Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 by importing and selling products that allegedly infringe Gamevice’s patents. In a statement issued by the ITC, they stated that “[b]y instituting this investigation, the ITC has not yet made any decision on the merits of the case.” The ITC said that it will make its final determination as to whether there was an alleged violation at the “earliest practicable time,” further adding that it would set a target completion date for the probe within 45 days after their investigation commences.

This is not the first time that this company has decided to wage war with Nintendo. Back in August, Gamevice previously sued Nintendo for the exact same reason, raising a different patent in issue that is in the same family as the patents in this current lawsuit. Although the prior suit was dismissed without prejudice in October (meaning that Gamevice could bring this same lawsuit to court again if they chose to), Gamevice claims that the prior lawsuit put Nintendo on notice of the asserted patents.

A Nintendo of America spokesman told Law360 on Wednesday that “[w]e have nothing to announce on this topic.”

If you personally would like to look into this case more, the case name is Gamevice, Inc. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd. et. al., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:18-cv-01942. You can view the complaint filed for this case here.

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