Hillcrest Labs: Nintendo's Wii Infringing Our Patents

23 Comments

Hillcrest Labs, a Rockville, Mnd.-based startup, says it has filed a complaint for patent infringement with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in Washington, D.C., and a separate patent infringement suit in the U.S. District Court in Maryland, against Nintendo, related to the Wii video game system. [digg=http://digg.com/nintendo/HillCrest_Labs_Nintendo_s_Wii_Infringing_Numerous_Patents]

Hillcrest’s patents at issue are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,158,118, 7,262,760, and 7,414,611, which relate to a hand-held 3-D pointing device, and U.S. Patent No. 7,139,983, which relates to a navigation interface display system that graphically organizes content for display on a television. Since 2001, Hillcrest Labs has pioneered technology that allows consumers to interact with digital media on television using motion-control and pointing techniques. The company holds 29 patents in this area worldwide, and has filled for more than 100 related patents. (release)

NewTeeVee recently shot a demo video of the Hillcrest remote in action:

http://blip.tv/play/Ab7ffYX+KQ

Hillcrest is a venture-backed company and had raised $25 million earlier this year. It has raised a total of $50 million from NEA, Columbia Capital, Grotech Ventures, AllianceBernstein and other undisclosed investors. The company claims that many consumer electronics companies (not disclosed publicly) have licensed Hillcrest’s technology for use in their products.

While Hillcrest Labs has a great deal of respect for Nintendo and the Wii, Hillcrest Labs believes that Nintendo is in clear violation of its patents and has taken this action to protect its intellectual property rights. Given the current status of the filings, the company will not disclose any additional details about the matter at this time. (release)

Legal docs embedded below the fold.

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/wrapper.ashx?doc_id=1064297&swf_url=http%3A//content1.docstoc.com.s3.amazonaws.com/swf/1064297.swf&enableFullScreen=1
Nintendo Wii vs HillCrest – Get more Legal Forms

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/wrapper.ashx?doc_id=1064298&swf_url=http%3A//content1.docstoc.com.s3.amazonaws.com/swf/1064298.swf&showrelated=0&enableFullScreen=1
Nintendo vs HillCrest Labs – Get more Information Technology

23 Comments

jjray

“My question is why did it take so long for this company to file suit?”
Because the potential damages (i.e., stakes in the poker contest) go up if the alleged infringing product has been out in the market for awhile.

JP

Om,
The ITC formally agreed to hear Hillcrest’s case today (9/17). See ITC statement: http://www.usitc.gov/ext_relations/news_release/2008/er0917ff1.htm

Also, Hillcrest disclosed today that Kodak is using their technology for the new Kodak Theatre HD Player, which will be available this month. Product description is here: http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQuerier.jhtml?pq-path=13111&pq-locale=en_US

Here’s an excerpt from Hillcrest’s press release today from Kodak:

“It is important to Kodak to partner with innovative companies that
complement Kodak technologies,” said Julie Gerstenberger, Kodak’s Director of External Alliances and Vice President, Office of the CTO. “Hillcrest Labs’ unique 3-D like applications and motion-control technology offer compelling advantages, and we’re pleased to have licensed its technologies.”

desu

Truth be told, even if the lawsuit falls in favor of Hillcrest Labs, and Nintedo’s product is ordered to leave the American market, Popular demand
dictates the Nintendo will now receive much more attention that whatever product Hillcrest claims to have.
thank u hillcrest, you have made Nintendo much more popular,

funny

Is this a marketing strategy? Since they are not widely known. More people will know them after reading this news.
There will be more upside than downside for a start-up doing this. There is nothing much to lose besides venture capital money, but if then win, they win big.

Jari

Finally a legit claim. I had seen enough of those “We own the patents to red rounded block made out of plastic that is halfway inside another plastic block and can be pressed down with one finger” type of lawsuits. :)

shop fitting

this is getting ridiculous. for one, there’s no crossover between the wii and media centre markets. secondly, it’s getting to the point where eventually one company will patent “bricks” and be the only ones allowed to manufacture them.

also interesting in the video how they said it doesn’t work like the wii.. i’m assuming was filmed before litigation? ;)

Robotech_Master

This seems a trifle different than your average patent troll suit—unlike those holding companies that exist only for the purpose of suing people, this company actually has produced a product.

Should be interesting to watch.

LM

My question is why did it take so long for this company to file suit?

BJ

“this is commonsense, how did they get a patent for a hierarchical categorization”

The USPTO is tripe. They are understaffed and have government employees that are merited based on their patent throughput. It’s much easier for them to accept patents than reject them. That requires more paperwork!

LH

Was reading the section 983 description in the first document, and just kept thinking – this is commonsense, how did they get a patent for a hierarchical categorization. Oh well. Maybe I should go get a patent on an org chart. First you zoom out from the CEO…..

Cheryl Milone- Founder, Article One Partners

Costly litigation as is imminent in this case could be avoided with more thorough searches for prior art. As a leading nation in the global economy, we need access to better prior art so that the U.S. Patent Office can more accurately determine true innovation and industry can rely on the efficacy of granted patent rights.

Perhaps by engaging the online global community we will be able to tap a collective knowledge base to uncover prior art not yet identified. This will avoid unnecessary patent litigation focused more on the inefficiencies of the patent system rather than on the correct allocation of industry resources on valuing true innovation. I am interested to hear more about this from other readers.

Cheryl Milone- Founder, Article One Partners

Costly litigation as is imminent in this case could be avoided with more thorough searches for prior art. As a leading nation in the global economy, we need access to better prior art so that the U.S. Patent Office can more accurately determine true innovation and industry can rely on the efficacy of granted patent rights.

Perhaps by engaging the online global community we will be able to tap a collective knowledge base to uncover prior art not yet identified. This will avoid unnecessary patent litigation focused more on the inefficiencies of the patent system rather than on the correct allocation of industry resources on valuing true innovation. I am interested to hear more about this from other readers.

Cheryl Milone- Founder, Article One Partners

Costly litigation as is imminent in this case could be avoided with more thorough searches for prior art. As a leading nation in the global economy, we need access to better prior art so that the U.S. Patent Office can more accurately determine true innovation and industry can rely on the efficacy of granted patent rights.

Perhaps by engaging the online global community we will be able to tap a collective knowledge base to uncover prior art not yet identified. This will avoid unnecessary patent litigation focused more on the inefficiencies of the patent system rather than on the correct allocation of industry resources on valuing true innovation. I am interested to hear more about this from other readers.

Neil Haldar

I agree with Joe Harper — on the face of it, this appears legit. It also means you can’t exactly use the motion sensor in your iPhone to control AppleTV (or any TV interface) without Apple (or a 3rd party ISV) licensing Hillcrest’s IP.

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