On Feb. 7, 2018, Nintendo Co., Ltd. and Nintendo of America, Inc. (“Nintendo”) filed two petitions for Inter Partes Review of U.S. 6,219,730 to Nguyen, a patent owned by Genuine Enabling Technology LLC (“Genuine”).
The challenged ’730 Patent relates to user input:
1. A user input apparatus operatively coupled to a computer via a communication means additionally receiving at least one input signal, comprising:
user input means for producing a user input stream;
input means for producing the at least one input signal;
converting means for receiving the at least one input signal and producing therefrom an input stream; and
encoding means for synchronizing the user input stream with the input stream and
encoding the same into a combined data stream transferable by the communication means.
According to Nintendo, the ’730 Patent is anticipated at least in part by the practice of “bit-robbing” which, in short, involves combining an existing signal (e.g., an audio signal) with other signals (e.g., input signals) such that a single data stream could be used to transmit multiple types of data from multiple input. For instance, Fig. 1B of the ’730 Patent depicts plugging a microphone and speaker into the mouse, in effect combining audio and input data streams:
The use of means-plus-function language may make these claims narrower in scope than they look at first glance. Before granting Nintendo’s IPR petition, the USPTO Patent Trials and Appeals Board (“PTAB”) will have to figure out what structure is required by the claimed means, and whether Nintendo’s prior art shows that structure.
Nintendo’s Petition for Inter Partes review comes on the heel of the case Genuine Enabling Technology LLC v. Nintendo Co.,
1:17-CV-00134-MSG, filed in the District of Delaware on Feb. 8, 2017. In that case, Genuine asserts that Nintendo’s
Wii Remote infringes the ’730 Patent. Per Nintendo, Genuine has also sued Sony for infringement of the same patent.