On Nintendo’s latest patent suit…

I believe legal incusrions such as these will eternally nag me into a small typing frenzy primarily for the fact that it appears counter productive to the entire creative assembly process we have built the rest of our economic system upon. When the phallic-sounding system was first introduced to us, many touted that it was introducing a new revolutionary technology to the gaming world. Let’s be clear: the revolution was not in the technology, but the incorporation of that technology into modern video games. This blurry line has since brought many patent-protecting colliseum matches to Nintendo’s doorstep. Hillcrest appears to be one of the rare occasions in which they appear a true victim of Nintendo’s success, and considering that the Big N slid some “undisclosed sum” under the table to call it a draw, it must have been a flagrant misunderstanding of their patent.

Recall Media Technologies patent squabble with Nintendo’s device, which from the moment of inception could only be dubbed as the pinnacle of legal bullshittery. When you’re clamoring for damages based on the DVD playback capabalities of a system that has no DVD playback at all, it’s time to call it a day. But instead of taking a lesson from the foolish, other fools took it as a signal to inundate the famous publisher with a cornucopia of technological red flags, as if there was some grand conspiracy that if they all sued at least one company would come away with compensation.

If one were to take a closer look at the Wii’s once codenamed “Broadway” processor and it’s Wii-mote functionality, they would discover that the majority of the entire system is not revolutionary at all; the revolution comes from how all the parts are put together: Infra-red sensing diodes? Any gamer who remembers playing “Police Trainer” “Silent Scope” “Big Game Hunter” or the more famous “Time Crisis” franchises in their local arcade hall has experienced those before.  Motion-sensing technology? Abrams Gentile Entertainment (there’s one for the books) had the Power Glove in 1989 using ultrasound transmitters to represent motion sensing in its most primitive form. There were even rumors it could act as a rudimentary ultrasound machine for those ‘with child’, but that’s a story for another time.

Hillcrest’s minor victory comes as a bit of a shock to me primarily because, in many ways, reverse engineering is the way of the economy of electronics. After while, why do all the hard work yourself when someone else already has? shortcuts have been the unwritten rule of advancing in almost any career, creative engineering notwithstanding. After years of development, the iPhone has become the product by which all phone companies have taken apart, dissected, autopsied, and reassembled in the form of something smaller, cheaper, but still lacking in color. But because it is “so different and innovative”, Apple has no right to call shenanigans on Sprint. If people were able to sue when any able-minded individual showed some ingenuity and created a masterpiece from two lesser impressive gadgets, then God help the inventor of the spork.

Whatever the PR statement may be from either company, the simple truth is that we’ve heard this tune before: Some people made a bunch of money, and now other people want their cut. Though I always enjoy a nice David-and-Goliath every now and then, we can all agree this is but a scratch on Nintendo’s finanical success. If anything, I congradulate Nintendo on inventing the first machine that prints a shit ton of money.

See you in the next level,

Gray

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