Rockville company is suing Nintendo

Hillcrest Labs says Wii violates patent

August 21, 2008|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,Sun reporter

A Rockville technology company took on Japanese gaming giant Nintendo yesterday, saying it filed patent-infringement complaints with two federal agencies asking that U.S. importation of the popular Wii video game system be halted.

Hillcrest Labs, which licenses a technology to manufacturers that use it to make motion controls for digital media, said it filed a lawsuit in a Maryland U.S. District Court alleging that components of Nintendo's Wii game systems infringe upon four of its intellectual property patents. The company filed a separate complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission.

"While Hillcrest Labs has a great deal of respect for Nintendo and the Wii, Hillcrest Labs believes that Nintendo is in clear violation of its patents and has taken this action to protect its intellectual property rights," the company said in a statement.

Hillcrest asked that Nintendo be forced to stop using its technology, to stop importing products that use the technology and for compensation "in an amount no less than a reasonable royalty," according to a copy of the court filing provided by Hillcrest.

Nintendo of America spokesman Charlie Scibetta said in a statement that "we have not been served with any lawsuit or other action by Hillcrest and therefore have no comment."

Nintendo introduced the Wii and its motion-sensitive remote controls in 2006. Last month, Nintendo announced that the game system had become the best-selling console in the country.

Privately held Hillcrest was founded in 2001, but the company has been gaining momentum, announcing a $25 million funding round in January.

Its technology is licensed by companies including Universal Electronics Inc. and Logitech, which uses it to make a $150 wireless mouse that can control online video from across the room, like a laser pointer.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

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