Nintendo Lawsuit Forces Japanese Dev To Cough Up $41 Million

Nintendo Lawsuit Forces Japanese Dev To Cough Up $41 Million
Colopl's Shironeko Project has been at the centre of the lawsuit. (Screenshot: Colopl)

In December 2017, Nintendo sued Japanese developer Colopl over patent infringements in the free-to-play mobile game Shironeko Project. According to an official statement, Colopl has agreed to pay Nintendo 3.3 billion yen ($41 million).

Colopl is a major smart device developer, making titles like TsumTsum Land for Disney.

Released internationally as Colopl Rune Story, Shironeko Project is an action role-playing game with touchscreen controls. In its lawsuit, Nintendo claimed Shironeko Project violated five of its patents, including a touch control system, ​​​​including “using a joystick on a touch screen.”

The violation appears to be in reference to a patent introduced with the Nintendo DS Wrist Strap, which doubled as a joystick-like control for the handheld. Shironeko Project introduced what it called a “Punicon” mechanic, having players drag their finger across the screen and tapping to unleash attacks. Nintendo’s claim covers placing arbitrary coordinates on the screen and then dragging it like a joystick motion. This led to Colopl changing the input controls in February 2020.

Around the time the suit was originally launched, a patent attorney on Yahoo News! Japan indicated that the claim was rather complex, and that Nintendo’s original patented control scheme was wide-reaching. “I think it’s possible to call it what’s known as a ‘killer patent,’” the attorney wrote.

Earlier this year, as analyst Serkan Toto pointed out, Nintendo asked for more in damages, increasing the amount to the equivalent of $64 million, up from the original $57 million. The argument was that Colopl continued to violate Nintendo’s patents since the lawsuit was first filed. By April, the amount had apparently increased to over $124 million.

“Subsequently,” Colopl writes in a release announcing the settlement, “the Company determined that it would be best to resolve the matter as soon as possible through a settlement, and has now reached an agreement on the settlement.”

“The terms of the agreement are that the Company will pay Nintendo a total of 3.3 billion yen as a settlement for the lawsuit,” Colopl continues, “including future licensing, and that Nintendo will withdraw the lawsuit.”

Because of the settlement, Colopl will record “extraordinary losses” in the third quarter ending on September 21. “The settlement of this lawsuit will have no impact on the Company’s consolidated business results for the fourth quarter of the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021 and beyond.”

And with that, the Nintendo and Colopl legal saga comes to an end.

Comments

  • Man Nintendo has become pretty scummy…. how can you even patent a touch screen control? Should Apple sue nintendo for using touch screens?

    • It’s a bit more complicated than just a touch screen.
      On their own the parents are a little harder to enforce but this is several infringements at once.

      Also companies like Apple are constantly suing each other for using similar patented designs and features in their devices.
      It’s easy to point fingers at the companies but it’s the system that’s broken.

  • There are a lot of mobile games that have gesture based controls, and I know that there were plenty of attempts to add physical peripherals to mobile devices that were simply a joystick that acted like a finger touch. Have Nintendo gone after these too or did they buy into the questionable patents? Surely since touch screens have been around for so long there would be plenty of prior art for gesture controls…

  • Absolutely shocking that they were allowed patent basic touch screen controls, shows how broken the patent system really is.

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