Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on August 20, 2008
If Rockville, Md.-based Hillcrest Labs has its way, the Nintendo Wii will soon be off the market in the U.S. Hillcrest has designed a motion-sensitive remote control and accompanying user interface designed to make it easier for consumers to choose among ever-growing offerings on their TV set top boxes. The company claims that the heart of the Wii system, the motion-sensitive Wiimote controller, infringes on a web of patents it owns. It has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to bar importation of the Wii. Hillcrest also field a patent infringement suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
It probably won’t come to a Wii crisis. Requesting an ITC ban is a standard legal technique in cases involving alleged patent infringement in imported goods. Recently, Nokia won an order barring importation of wireless handsets containing Qualcomm chips that infringed on Nokia patents. The Nokia-Qualcomm case ended, as these matters nearly always do, with a negotiated settlement between the companies.
If Hillcrest’s patent claims hold up, the privately held company could be in for a nice payday. It has not found a lot of success in getting its technology adopted by by consumer electronics companies. But Logitech’s MX Air mouse is based on technology licensed from Hillcrest.