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Nintendo Wins Patent Case Seeking to Block Wii Imports

Nintendo Wins U.S. Patent Case Seeking to Block Wii Imports
Customers play Nintendo Co. Wii U video games inside a Nintendo World store in New York. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Nintendo Co., the world’s biggest video-game device maker, can keep selling its Wii gaming system in the U.S. after winning a trade dispute over a theme-park operator’s patents for magic wands.

Nintendo didn’t violate the patent rights owned by Apollo Global Management’s Creative Kingdoms, the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington said in a notice posted on its website today. The agency rejected a request to block imports of Nintendo’s Wii gaming consoles and remote controls.

Creative Kingdoms developed magic wands for children to use to cast spells and complete tasks at its themed adventure parks. The wands’ motion sensors respond to player movements and store information to modify the game. Creative Kingdoms claimed that same technology was incorporated into Kyoto-based Nintendo’s Wii controllers.

The complaint was filed in March 2011, making it one of the oldest cases pending at the ITC. Trade Judge Charles Bullock had cleared Nintendo, and was told to reconsider his findings. He again sided with Nintendo, saying the Wii remote is not a “toy wand” with a hollow center and the two patents were invalid.

In seeking the import ban, Creative Kingdoms said customers could turn to Sony Corp.’s PlayStation or Microsoft Corp.’s Kinect as replacements for the Wii, saying children using Kinect burn more calories than those using the Wii.

Sports Game

Nintendo countered that any ban on imports should be limited to the only game presented during the case, the Airplane game within the Wii Sports Resort game. It also said the Wii U shouldn’t be included because it wasn’t sold until after the trial so wasn’t analyzed by the judge.

Sony and Microsoft are introducing new consoles in November before the holiday season, with Sony planning to sell the PlayStation 4 and Microsoft unveiling its Xbox One.

Nintendo Co. has sold 3.6 million of its most recent console, the $300-$350 Wii U, since its debut in November. In April, the company forecast sales of 9 million consoles in the year ending next March.

Creative Kingdoms is part of Great Wolf Resorts, which was bought by New York-based Apollo in May 2012.

The case is In the Matter of Certain Video Game Systems and Wireless Controllers, 337-770, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).

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