When a company designs a product that becomes extremely successful it’s not entirely unusual for other companies to jump on the band wagon and create something that’s nearly identical to that product in an effort to cash in on some of the popularity, all the while tiptoing around copyright and patent laws. We’ve seen it with the iPhone, the eeepc and countless other products over the years.
However, while most companies try not to infringe on the original company’s design in order to avoid hefty lawsuits, sometimes we see a product that raises a few eyebrows inside and out of the company that holds the copyright to x, y or z product.
Bloomberg reports that Nintendo is suing accessory seller Nyko for allegedly copying its patented designs and infringing on its trademarks for the Nunchuk controller name and packaging. Last Tuesday Nintendo filed a federal lawsuit that said Nyko’s wireless nunchuck `wholly appropriates the novel shape, design, overall appearance and even the color and materials used in the Nintendo Nunchuk controller."
In a copyright lawsuit, hearing a statement like this from the original manufacturer is nearly a given and you’re just as likely to get a statement from the accused company saying something along the lines of, "it was an accident!" as is the case with Nyko. In an interview with Bloomberg, Nyko spokesperson, C.C. Swiney said the company had "not knowingly violated anyone’s intellectual property," and was still examining the issue.
The case comes just a few weeks after Nintendo itself was sued (along with Microsoft) for copyright infringements in it’s controllers.
In August 2006 a Texas gaming company by the name of Anascape Ltd filed a patent infringement suit against Microsoft and Nintendo alleging that both companies had infringed on patents Anascape holds on analog sensors, tactile feedback, and vibration mechanisms in it’s game controllers.
However, while Microsoft chose to settle out of court, Nintendo decided to see the lawsuit through to the end and in mid-May, an east Texas jury ruled that Nintendo should pay Anascape $21m for patents infringed in the Japanese company’s Wii Classic, Wavebird, and GameCube controllers.