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Nintendo facing lawsuit over Wii - again

Controller points to trouble

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A lawsuit has been filed against Nintendo by a US-based firm, which claims that the Wii tramples over four patents for on-screen navigation and control technology.

Hillcrest Labs owns three patents relating to a “handheld three-dimensional pointing device” and another for a “navigation interface display system that graphically organises content for display on television”.

Exactly how Nintendo is supposed to have ridden roughshod over Hillcrest’s patents isn't yet clear, but it's believed the lawsuit is likely to focus on the console’s Remote and Nunchuck units, rather than the Classic Controller - which has already been the subject of a patent infringement action brought against Nintendo.

Hillcrest’s patents are believed to relate to its HoME and Freespace technologies. HoME enables consumer electronics manufacturers to create interactive digital media products for, say, TVs. Applications made with HoME are used in conjunction with Freespace, which allows devices like remote controls and PC mice to be turned into three-dimensional motion-sensitive pointers.

Nintendo hasn’t said anything publically about Hillcrest’s lawsuit yet, but this isn’t the first time the Wii has faced legal problems.

Last month, a US judge rejected Nintendo's attempt to avoid a $21m pay-out awarded against it over the design of its Wii Classic Controller.

In 2006, Nintendo found itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit alleging that the Wii’s Remote ripped off another patent owned by US firm Interlink Electronics for a “trigger-operated electronic device”. That case is thought to be ongoing.

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