Ironburg Inventions LTD vs. Valve Corp.
Northern District of Georgia, Case No. 1-15-cv-04219
December 3, 2015

In a new case, patentee Ironburg Inventions accuses Valve of infringing two game controller patents with its new Steam Controller. Ironburg operates in the US through Scuf Gaming, a manufacturer of custom video game equipment and accessories. The two patents in suit are U.S. Pat. Nos. 8,641,525 and 9,089,770 (a continuation of the '525 patent) and generally appear to relate to the placement of triggers on the back of a game controller. The claimed priority date of both patents is June 2011. Claim 1 of the '770 patent is representative:

1. A video game controller, comprising:
an outer case comprising:
a front and a back, wherein the back is opposite the front;
a top edge and a bottom edge, wherein the top edge is opposite the bottom edge;
a first handle adjacent a first side edge and a second handle adjacent a second side edge, wherein the first side edge is opposite the second side edge; and
a first back control and a second back control, wherein each of the first back control and the second back control is located at the back of the controller, wherein the first back control includes a first elongate member and the second back control includes a second elongate member;
wherein the first elongate member extends along at least half of a first distance between the top edge and the bottom edge, the first distance being measured along a longitudinal axis of the first elongate member; and
wherein the second elongate member extends along at least half of a second distance between the top edge and the bottom edge, the second distance being measured along a longitudinal axis of the second elongate member.
Figs. 1 and 3

This author is enjoying his Steam Controller so far, though he has not yet made much use of the buttons on the back. From its listing on Amazon, the back of the Steam Controller is reproduced below:

It seems as though one issue in this case will be whether the back triggers on the Steam Controller meet the specific physical requirements set forth in the claims.

One interesting civil procedure note about this case: the complaint appears drafted under the old barebones standards for patent infringement actions set forth in former Form 18. However, new rules requiring a more complete recitation of facts came into effect on December 1, 2015. The actual standards courts will hold plaintiffs to in their complaints remain to be seen, but it is likely that courts will require patentees to at least identify specific claims alleged to be infringed as well as provide some level of analysis as to how the claim is infringed. This complaint does not appear to identify any claims in particular (other than demanding relief for "infringement of one or more claims" of each patent), nor does it appear to address how the Steam Controller relates to any claimed features of the patents.

We will continue to watch this case for any interesting updates.
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Ross Dannenberg

Scott Kelly

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