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Nintendo wins court battle over Wii motion control patents

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The U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. ruled today that Nintendo did not infringe upon motion control patents held by Motiva LLC, saying litigation against the Wii maker was "Motiva's only activity that could be related to commercializing the technology."

Motiva filed suit in 2008 claiming that Nintendo's Wii console had infringed on patents that allowed a system to track player position and movement and that importing the Wii consoles would harm a U.S. industry.

According to the ruling (PDF link), Motiva needed to prove that it had made "significant investment in plant and equipment," "significant employment of labor or capital" and "substantial investment in its exploitation, including engineering, research and development, or licensing."

In today's ruling, Judge Sharon Prost wrote that Motiva failed to meet the "economic prong of the domestic industry requirement."

"Motiva was never close to launching a product incorporating the patented technology — nor did any partners show any interest in doing so, for years before or any time after the launch of the Wii," and "the evidence demonstrated that Motiva's litigation was targeted at financial gains, not at encouraging adoption of Motiva's patented technology," Prost wrote.

Moreover, an administrative law judge ruled in 2011 "after briefing and a five-day evidentiary hearing," that Nintendo did not infringe on either of Motiva's patents. Motiva appealed, and the Circuit Court declined to revisit those findings.

"We are very pleased with this result," Richard Medway, Nintendo of America's deputy general counsel, said in a press release from the company. "The court confirmed that Motiva's sole activity, litigation against Nintendo, did not satisfy the ITC's domestic industry requirement. Nintendo has a passionate tradition of developing innovative products while respecting the intellectual property rights of others. We vigorously defend patent lawsuits when we firmly believe that we have not infringed another party's patent."