The Nintendo Switch certainly isn't the first gaming tablet, but is it directly riffing on others' ideas? Gamevice thinks so. The accessory maker is suing Nintendo for allegedly violating a patent for concepts used in the Wikipad, its gaming-oriented Android slate, as well as its namesake add-on controllers for phones and tablets. According to the suit, the Switch and its removable Joy-Con controllers are too close to Gamevice's vision of a combination of detachable game controller and a device with a "flexible bridge section." Not surprisingly, the lawsuit calls for both damages and a ban on Switch sales.
Gamevice declined to comment on the lawsuit. We've reached out to Nintendo as well, and will let you know if it has a response.
In some ways, the lawsuit is an epilogue to a long-running story. The Wikipad team started out with grand plans for tablet gaming in 2012, when it promised elaborate features as glasses-free 3D and game streaming. However, it didn't work out that way: delays and a rethink prompted a change in design, and while the Wikipad did receive some acclaim, Gamevice eventually dropped it in favor of its add-ons for phones and tablets. Although Nintendo's Switch clearly has some differences (it's intended more as a hybrid TV and portable console, for one thing), it's effectively showing what could have been if the Wikipad had taken off.