Chip tech holder sues Nintendo
Super Mario and friends are facing legal action from a US-based semiconductor intellectual property company over an alleged patent infringement - potentially within the Wii games console.
Texas-based Lonestar Inventions filed the suit earlier this month in which it alleged that Nintendo's US division has violated a patent it holds for a high-capacitance structure within a semiconductor device.
However, Lonestar has not specifically identified which Nintendo's consoles or components it believes infringe on the patent, a Nintendo spokeswoman told US media.
The patent in question was originally issued in 1993 and - put simply - describes a way to utilise layers of conducting strips to triple the effectiveness of parallel-plate capacitors.
Lonestar is seeking triple damages, but no specific figure has been released.
Nintendo isn't the first to fall foul of Lonestar's legal team. The Texas firm has previously launched legal suits against Texas Instruments, Marvell Semiconductor and the Eastman Kodak Company, in each case alleging violation of the same patent.
In December 2006, Nintendo was sued by another firm claiming patent infringement: California-based plaintiff Interlink Electronics claimed the Wii Remote controller incorporated technonology detailed in one of its patent, 6,850,221.
Not a good time
Nintendo have a rocky road ahead. Recently announced that their Wii sales were falling in the US. However in Just a few months we should see a huge platter of new games for the Wii wahoo.
Giles -- we're talking about capacitors -actually formed on the chip itself-, rather than individual, discrete capacitors.
I still contend that any method for increasing the dielectric constant should be obvious to a person skilled in the art (in this case, the art of doping semiconductors). There are only so many impurities you can introduce, and their properties should all have been measured in the laboratory by now just in the ordinary course of research.
Patents of this type go completely against the original intent of the patent system, which was to encourage the sharing of knowledge by encouraging innovators to publish their work (the short-term monopoly on control of the use of the work being a sweetener). Perhaps patents should be withdrawn if they are (ab)used to stifle progress rather than enhance it. Or maybe we need a scheme where patent examiners are paid to reject patents, and/or a bounty is paid on Prior Art which could be used to invalidate patents.
It's a method, not a physical constant
Stiles, that's true, but that's not what the patent covers. It covers a method of increasing the constant, not any form of increase, which would be silly and insane. Coming up with new methods of increasing it are quite a bit harder than learning the formula for capacitance.
Surely they cannot sue Nintendo directly? They would have to sue IBM and ATI who design and manufacture the chips for Nintendo?
Surely Nintendo just use components from various manufacturers. I doubt Nintendo make their own capacitors.
So why don't they sue the component maker?