Nintendo’s Wii Infringed Philips Patents, U.K. Court Says

Royal Philips NV won a U.K. court ruling in a global battle over patents for recognizing hand gestures and motion on Nintendo Co.’s Wii computer-gaming devices.

Judge Colin Birss said a Nintendo unit infringed two Philips patents in a ruling today. Nintendo, the world’s largest maker of video games, didn’t violate a third patent pertaining to modeling a body in a virtual environment, Birss said.

“The common general knowledge did not include a device combining a physical motion sensor with a camera and the reasons advanced by Nintendo for putting those two sensors together in one unit are unconvincing,” Birss wrote in the decision at the U.K. High Court.

Nintendo is struggling to revive sales of the Wii units as consumers turn away from computer-gaming consoles, lured by inexpensive games on smartphones. The Kyoto, Japan-based company sold 2.72 million Wii U units in the year ended March, missing its own forecast set in January, which was lowered from before.

Nintendo said it believes the two patents are invalid and it will seek to appeal the decision. The company has been selling the device in the U.K. since 2006.

“Nintendo has a long history of developing innovative products while respecting the intellectual property rights of others,” the company said. “Nintendo is committed to ensuring that this judgment does not affect continued sales of its highly acclaimed line of video game hardware, software and accessories and will actively pursue all such legitimate steps as are necessary to avoid any interruptions to its business.”

Other Countries

Philips has been pursuing litigation against Nintendo in other countries as well as the U.K., including a lawsuit filed in the U.S. last month.

“We believe Nintendo infringed the patents and have tried to settle since 2011, but as that hasn’t worked out we had to take this step,”said Bjorn Teuwsen, a spokesman for Philips. “This case relates to other cases in the U.S., Germany and France. It might help in those cases, but that’s not up to me but to the local authorities in those countries.”

Birss said he would issue an order on damages next month.

The case is Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV v Nintendo of Europe GmbH, case no. HC12E04759, U.K. High Court of Justice, Chancery Division.