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Drama Business Game Dev Valve loses $4 million Steam Controller patent infringement case

IbizaPocholo

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Dec 1, 2014
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The trial, which saw attorneys for Valve and plaintiff Ironburg Inventions giving evidence from various locations via Zoom, began in late January.

Ironburg alleged that Half-Life and Portal maker Valve was warned in 2014 that a prototype of the Steam Controller shown at the CES trade show featured the same rear-side controls it had recently patented.

The patent, for additional controls on the back of a pad to be operated by the user’s middle fingers, would later be licensed by Microsoft for use in its Xbox Elite controllers, which feature rear paddles.

Despite the warning, Valve went on to launch its controller and reportedly sold 1.6 million units before the product was discontinued in 2019.

“Valve did know that its conduct involved an unreasonable risk of infringement, but it simply proceeded to infringe anyway — the classic David and Goliath story: Goliath does what Goliath wants to do,” Ironburg’s lawyer, Robert Becker, had argued.

Valve claimed there was no infringement, but the jury found otherwise and Ironburg was awarded $4 million in damages, Law.com reports.

While the award is on the low end of the damages range sought by Ironburg, the possibility of enhancements remains as jurors decided that Valve had wilfully infringed the patent.
 
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PlayStaytion

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The fun part , even though it sucks but it just gets worse after that , they should better save themselves before saving others in this business.
 

Sean Mirrsen

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The fun part , even though it sucks but it just gets worse after that , they should better save themselves before saving others in this business.
Are you aware the ruling was reversed and Ironburg are the ones owing money now? They messed up on filing the patent too late after showing off the design, and had no leg to stand on in defending it.
 
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PlayStaytion

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Dec 22, 2019
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Are you aware the ruling was reversed and Ironburg are the ones owing money now? They messed up on filing the patent too late after showing off the design, and had no leg to stand on in defending it.
My bad , I post it in the wrong thread.
 

nemiroff

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Feb 19, 2018
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It's a fucking shame that the patent offices makes money on granting utterly ridiculous method patents that has NOTHING to do with protecting actual inventors.

Edit: Turns out things changed into prior art after all.
 
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Zambatoh

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As another poster already said, the decision was indeed reversed.
Hopefully we'll see a new controller that uses a similar design to the Steam Deck. I'd be on that in a heartbeat.

 

kikkis

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Aug 13, 2020
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Yep. It’s all arbitrary and very bad for innovation.
My opinion is that those who vehemently object patents are those who never invent anything. I agree that getting patents as freebies is bad. Better solution would be that those who file for patents pay for the amount they want to exclude competition. So if another company wants to get license to that patent they just have to pay that exclusion price for the company that created that invention.
 
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Zannegan

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Are you aware the ruling was reversed and Ironburg are the ones owing money now? They messed up on filing the patent too late after showing off the design, and had no leg to stand on in defending it.
Interesting. The thread title really needs an UPDATE to reflect this.
 

Sean Mirrsen

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Interesting. The thread title really needs an UPDATE to reflect this.
After reading a bit deeper into it, it's not quite that complete a reversal, but at least one major piece of evidence that was dismissed by the court previously has been reevaluated, and about half the patent's specific features that Valve wanted to prove to be unpatentable, have been determined to be such. I can't fully read and understand the legalese involved, but it seems that at least the concept itself of a gamepad controller with rear buttons has been proved to be unpatentable, and the only parts that are left are the exact design of long, spring-loaded 'paddles'. Or something. I'm not quite sure if that's going to be the end of it so far.
 
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Zannegan

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After reading a bit deeper into it, it's not quite that complete a reversal, but at least one major piece of evidence that was dismissed by the court previously has been reevaluated, and about half the patent's specific features that Valve wanted to prove to be unpatentable, have been determined to be such. I can't fully read and understand the legalese involved, but it seems that at least the concept itself of a gamepad controller with rear buttons has been proved to be unpatentable, and the only parts that are left are the exact design of long, spring-loaded 'paddles'. Or something. I'm not quite sure if that's going to be the end of it so far.
Also interesting.

What's strange is that you can find lots of articles about Valve having trouble with this court case, but it's very difficult to find any sort of updates on the case.

I wonder if this prompted the redesign of the back buttons on the Steam Deck. I'm not complaining, they look more comfortable and less irritatingly loud to click than the original paddles.
 

jigglet

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I hope patents are more enforced in this space. There's too little innovation happening with controllers, for example I still think no one has figured out how to properly replicate M&KB on one. Gyros are nice but still not enough. Anyone that advances this space should be handsomely rewarded.
 

Sean Mirrsen

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I hope patents are more enforced in this space. There's too little innovation happening with controllers, for example I still think no one has figured out how to properly replicate M&KB on one. Gyros are nice but still not enough. Anyone that advances this space should be handsomely rewarded.
Touchpads, flick sticks, touchscreen, and gyro aim. You won't get any closer to M&KB on a gamepad just because of the physical limits of the hardware. Very limited range of motion in a device designed to be comfortably held two-handed with the most essential controls within fingers' reach, versus a dedicated pointer device designed for precision and a typing array with a hundred keys. Outside of VR controllers with perfect external tracking, and virtual/mixed reality control schemes, there doesn't seem to be a way to do more.
 

jigglet

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You won't get any closer to M&KB on a gamepad just because of the physical limits of the hardware.

Disagreed. By definition innovation is something neither you or I have thought of. The idea is out there for someone to find.
 

AMSCD

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My opinion is that those who vehemently object patents are those who never invent anything. I agree that getting patents as freebies is bad. Better solution would be that those who file for patents pay for the amount they want to exclude competition. So if another company wants to get license to that patent they just have to pay that exclusion price for the company that created that invention.
I mean that's already how it works. Patent holders often license out their tech. For example, complicated products, like a smart phones, use IP under license from many different companies.
 

SupremeHoodie

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Wait, these guys patented back paddles for controllers? lol

I guess it extends to any form of buttons on the back of controllers? If so that’s fucking stupid.
 

kikkis

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I mean that's already how it works. Patent holders often license out their tech. For example, complicated products, like a smart phones, use IP under license from many different companies.
But they dont have to license and can charge different prices to different customers. And they got the initial patent basically as freebie. Like said "my system" doesn't have those problems since you get the price of patent upfront and its same price for anybody and no exclusion.
 

reksveks

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But they dont have to license and can charge different prices to different customers. And they got the initial patent basically as freebie. Like said "my system" doesn't have those problems since you get the price of patent upfront and its same price for anybody and no exclusion.

Sounds a bit more like Frand licensing https://www.upcounsel.com/frand-licensing

I think it has to be a per device cost personally.
 

daveonezero

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My opinion is that those who vehemently object patents are those who never invent anything. I agree that getting patents as freebies is bad. Better solution would be that those who file for patents pay for the amount they want to exclude competition. So if another company wants to get license to that patent they just have to pay that exclusion price for the company that created that invention.
It encourages squatting.

it stops competition because a big corporation has the money and resources to buy and file all the patents and the. Sit on them as a competitive advantage to stop others from competing in markets.

Also in the end the jurisdiction of patents does nothing. Look at China. They just reverse engineer everything and release it anyways because they don’t follow the same rules.

it does tha opposite of what proponents claim it does.

in the end it hurts everyone.

 
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