Wiimote triumphs over Weemote: A small business sob story

Candace Savino
C. Savino|07.24.08

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Wiimote triumphs over Weemote: A small business sob story
Sometimes, it really sucks to be the little guy (especially if the big guy you're up against is Nintendo). Take Forbis Technologies, for example, who came out with the Weemote (and trademarked the name in 2000) long before the Wii even launched.

Nintendo never officially refers to the Wii's controller as a Wiimote, and always calls it by the full name Wii Remote. Retailer and blog outlets such as ourselves are the cause of the problem, however, as we constantly use the unofficial nickname. Ever since the term "Wiimote" caught on, though, the Weemote's sales have "fallen considerably."

Game Politics recently talked to John Stephen, who owns the firm that manufactures the Weemote. Not only has the term Wiimote managed to cut into Weemote sales, but also, the company has been forced to spend a lot of money and resources protecting its trademark. The firm recently sent out over 100 cease-and-desist letters to retailers and resellers, asking them not to use the term "Wiimote" anymore (here's an example). If the firm doesn't take such actions, they'll lose the trademark by default. In either case, they lose something, making it a lose-lose situation of sorts for Forbis.

Ideally at this point, Nintendo would just buy the trademark from Forbis and the small firm would rebrand the company. Of course, Nintendo refused such an offer -- as Stephen explains, "The reality is we have no leverage and they are already getting a free ride. So I guess their position is why pay for something that is already free!"

Stephen knows that Nintendo's success from the word "Wiimote" has been mostly unintentional, but wishes the mega-company would do the right thing and purchase the trademark, even though they're not under legal obligation to do so. In the real world, though, the chances of that happening are slim to none.

Who knows, maybe the Big N will go and surprise us. But until then, our heart is breaking for the little guy.
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