SyncPoint Imaging, LLC v. Nintendo of America Inc.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
Case No. 2:15-cv-00247, Filed February 20, 2015

A new complaint alleges that Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U game consoles infringe a patent for a pointing device that generates an external cursor that interacts with a computer screen. The relevant features likely relate to how the Wii Remote controller interacts with the consoles.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,275,214, Fig. 1

The patent at issue is U.S. Pat. No. 6,275,214. Claim 1 is representative and recites:
1. A method for remotely controlling a computer having an associated screen for displaying output from the computer and having an internal cursor generated by the computer, the method comprising:
detecting at least one property of an external cursor and position of the external cursor relative to the output from the computer;
generating a command to move the internal cursor to a position on the screen corresponding to the position of the external cursor; and
generating a command for the computer based on the at least one detected property of the external cursor.
The ‘214 patent attempts to solve the problem of the complex systems needed to implement an interactive cursor. The background states that “[a] number of systems use sensors positioned on the user, on the computer, and/or on a display screen to detect movement of the user and/or a wireless pointing device relative to the sensors.” (column 1, lines 23-26). The ‘214 patent states on column 2, lines 19-30 that:
[t]he invention includes a computer connected to a projector which projects an image of the computer output onto an external screen. A camera is used to capture an image of the projected computer output. An optical pointer, such as a laser pointer, is used to generate and transmit an external cursor having various properties, such as color, shape or intensity. The image captured by the camera is used to detect and process at least one property of the external cursor to generate a corresponding command or commands to control the computer.
The ‘214 patent was licensed to PixArt, an additional defendant in the complaint. The complaint alleges that PixArt made unauthorized sales of components making use of the ‘214 patent to Nintendo of America, in violation of the licensing agreement.

While not explicitly noted in the complaint, the accused products make use of a Wii Remote to control an on-screen cursor. Our understanding is that the Wii Remote works by having two infrared LEDs mounted near a television, and tracks the orientation of the LEDs using a sensor in the Wii Remote. Given the description of systems given in the background, and the use of a camera capturing a screen in the patent’s disclosure, a major point in this case may be whether the Wii Remote generates an “external cursor” as claimed.

We’ll continue to watch this case for any interesting developments. 

Our thanks to Josh Davenport for his help with this post.
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Ross Dannenberg

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