Valve's Steam Controller landed way back in 2013, but it was never a great success. Years later, Valve killed it off and sold old inventory for just $5 apiece, but it seems a failed product isn't the only pain Valve is suffering over it. In a court case held in the District Court for the Western District of Washington, the jury voted in favor of Corsair, ordering Valve to pay $4 million in damages over the Steam Controller.
Long story short, in designing and producing the Steam Controller, Valve knowingly infringed on patents that were the property of Ironburg Inventions, a sub-firm of SCUF. Ironburg Inventions warned Valve about this in 2014, but Valve continued to sell the Steam controller, a total of 1.6-million units, before hitting the kill switch.
Corsair acquired SCUF in 2019 and picked up the fight. The culprit: the rear-facing side controls. Valve could have avoided all this by licensing the technology from SCUF, just like Microsoft has for select Xbox controllers, including the Xbox Elite controller.
Corsair posted the following statement:
Corsair Gaming, a leading global provider and innovator of high-performance gear for gamers and content creators and its subsidiaries Scuf Gaming and Ironburg Inventions Ltd., announce that on February 1, 2021 in the patent infringement case, Ironburg Inventions Ltd. v. Valve Corp, US District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle the jury unanimously found that Valve Corp infringed Ironburg’s 8,641,525 controller patent and awarded Ironburg over $4 million. In addition, the jury unanimously found willful infringement by Valve Corp. The jury verdict of willful infringement is the first step to a potential award of enhanced damages up to the statutory limit of treble damages.
This fine comes in just weeks after Valve, and a select handful of other publishers, were also fined €7.8-million ($9.4 million USD) by the European Commission for geo-blocking game activations.