It goes without saying at this point that the Nintendo Switch console exploded when it finally hit the market. Even now, gamers are still having trouble getting their hands on one six months after the initial release. Japanese profits exceeded sixteen billion yen. Billion.
But things haven’t been all roses for Nintendo, as they’re now facing a lawsuit from Gamevice, a company that manufactures click-on controllers for Apple and Samsung mobile devices. The allege that Nintendo’s Joy-Cons infringe on their patent, which was granted them in 2015. Their controllers attach to mobile devices and to their own gaming tablet in a very similar fashion to the way the big N’s Joy-Cons snap into and out of the Switch console.
There’s a difference in the design, however. While Gamevice’s controllers contain a bridge element that allows them to come together, the Joy-Cons do not have this feature. The closest thing is the handheld grip accessory, which Gamevice claims acts as the bridge and therefore counts as an infringement. They’ve called for the complete halt of all Switch production and sales, and for Nintendo to pay them damages as reimbursement for “irreparable injury” to the company.
Like that’s going to happen. The Joy-Cons, while they can attach to the grip, are also usable as separate controllers and allow for four different methods of play. The bridge element that Gamevice objects to is literally an accessory, not a part of the controllers themselves.
Furthermore, any monetary damages are unlikely to be Nintendo’s fault as the Joy-Cons work only with the Switch and not with the mobile devices Gamevice’s controllers attach to. They’re selling to two separate markets with similar but unequal technology. There’s little basis for a suit here, and it’s very hard to imagine Nintendo being forced to kill an entire console, and likely itself in the process. The Switch will continue its reign.
Matt Eschbach is a PC, Mac and Android indie game developer and fiction writer. His works have won multiple monetary awards from various contests. Graduating college in 2012 with a major in Game Design, Matt spends his time making stuff up and then building it. His favorite hobby… is sleeping.