Nintendo prevails in lawsuit over Switch console and JoyCon design

The US Patent and Trademark Office ruled Gamevice’s work to be ‘unpatentable.’
Marc DeAngelis
M. DeAngelis|03.13.20

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Devindra Hardawar/Engadget
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

After two and a half years of back-and-forth, a patent battle around the Nintendo Switch's design has ended in a win for the Japanese gaming company. In 2017, Gamevice filed suit against Nintendo, claiming that the Switch was too similar to its gaming tablet and that Nintendo's JoyCons were a ripoff of its snap-on tablet and smartphone controllers. Gamevice even tried to stop Nintendo from importing Switch units to the United States in 2018. All that effort didn't pay off, though.

The US Patent and Trademark Office filed a "termination decision document" on its database this week that explains why it ruled in Nintendo's favor. The biggest factors seem to be Gamevice's use of a flexible bridge to connect the pair of controllers, plus the fact that each controller has to be fitted to a tablet or smartphone. These facets are in contrast to the Switch's wireless connectivity and its lock-on technology.

It's not surprising that Nintendo won this lawsuit. The technology of the Switch and Gamevice's controllers may bear a passing resemblance to one another, but at their core, they're completely different. But to be fair, the concepts shared between the two companies are close enough that it's clear that Gamevice wasn't simply acting as a patent troll.

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