Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo Sued Over Joystick Port Patent

As the latest lawsuit to be leveled against video game hardware manufacturers, Richardson, Texas based Fenner Investments has filed suit against Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo for infringing on the company's patent number 6,297,751 for a "low-voltage joystick port interface."

The patent, filed in 1998 and later awarded in 2001, is summarized: "The joystick port interface according the present invention is a low power port which interfaces a typical 5 Volt joystick peripheral device with a lower power computer port. The low-voltage joystick port interface includes a bidirectional buffer circuit and a pulse generator which, together, generate a digital pulse signal, representing a joystick coordinate position, based on an input analog measurement signal."

The lawsuit from Fenner Investments was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, seeks damages and an injunction against Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo for each company's willful infringement of the patent.

While none of the three console manufacturers are strangers to being sued over their products, it is perhaps Sony, with its well documented court battle with Immersion Corporation over rumble technology that stands out as the most recent similar case as the one brought by this latest lawsuit. That suit by Immersion was also later extended to Microsoft, which was then settled in 2003, while Sony has continued its battle Immersion, with oral arguments having been heard in a DC appeals court just this week.

News source: Gamasutra
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the idea thats being claimed as infringed on was used in the earliest video games, coin op games that didnt use a microprocessor at all such as "pong" and "flying fortress". these games used a 555 timer and a pot and timed the wiper position based on the vertical line counter.

in the original apple II the same circuit was used for the joysticks. the apple used i believe a 558 quad timer and then set up a software loop to do the actual counting

for a patent to be issued about an idea to an individual 2 decades after its first use is ludicrous.

nolen bushnell or steve wozniac should own that patent

Losers. I bet they were on the brink of bankruptcy or something and some wiseguy within the organization suggested this. Come on... get a life. I bet your kids have at least one of these consoles. Go play some Mario Kart and you will be happy again

Surely, the xbox isn't included in this? They're modified USB ports on the xbox. Microsoft could come back with the argument, they are standard usb devices with modified connectors.

hmm.. their patent was filed in 1998 yet the nintendo64 had this when it released in 1996. the patent system is really ****ed up. they'll give people patents on **** that's been out for years that someone else already developed. i'm sure the n64 wasn't even the first to have this.

nvme said,
hmm.. their patent was filed in 1998 yet the nintendo64 had this when it released in 1996. the patent system is really ****ed up. they'll give people patents on **** that's been out for years that someone else already developed. i'm sure the n64 wasn't even the first to have this.

That was going to be my exact point. This patent in the description on this site anyway seems to sound like an analog stick, something found on an N64 controller 2 years before the patent was applied for.


Nintendo can EASILY claim prior art.

More than that, just think of all the previous consoles that used a "stick". I'm thinking as far back as the atari and spectrum. This court case is pointless.
And I bet the company knows it too, but are hoping to get a settlement out of at least one of the companies before it goes to court.

How can they sue with the technology being present previous to that date? They can't. its a meritless patent and will not be upheld in a court of law.

lerum said,
Greed :(
No doubt the demands will be in the millions.

I'm not a gamer in any form, and don't own any consoles what so ever. But if the patent system is there so you can "own" something, then earn money from it by other companies paying you to use it... why not sue if it's not happening? Granted they should've done it LONG ago, but meh. There's no point in having a patent system if nobody else is going to respect it.