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ITC to probe Wii patent violation claims

Nintendo facing possible US sales ban

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A US manufacturer’s recent claim that four of its patents for on-screen navigation and control technology have been infringed by the Wii are to be formally investigated by a US trade body.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has voted to investigate Hillcrest Laboratories’ allegations – made in a recently filed lawsuit - that Nintendo has violated three patents Hillcrest owns relating to a “handheld three-dimensional pointing device” and a fourth for a “navigation interface display system that graphically organises content for display on television”.

The ITC said that the complaint alleges “violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930” and that it relates to “certain videogame machines and related three-dimensional pointing devices”.

Initially, the ITC's Chief Administrative Law Judge will assign the case to one of the ITC's five administrative law judges, who will hold an evidentiary hearing.

The selected judge will then make an initial decision over whether there is a violation of section 337, after which the ITC will make a final decision over the lawsuit’s merits.

Hillcrest’s hoping for an exclusion order and a cease and desist order, which if successful could see the Wii and/or the Remote and Nunchuck controllers banned from sale in the US and from being imported into the country.

Getting the ITC in on the act is a commonplace tactic used by US companies who allege that a foreign company has riden roughshod over their intellectual property rights. It's often seen as a quicker way of getting a result than waiting for the case to come to a conclusion in the courts.

Charlie Scibetta, a spokesman for Nintendo of America, has already claimed that none of the videogame pioneer's products infringe Hillcrest Laboratories’ patents. Nintendo plans to “vigorously defend” its position, he said

Let the fight begin...

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