TV Remote-Control Developer Sues Nintendo Over Wii

Hillcrest Labs, which licenses remote-control technology to consumer-electronics companies, has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Nintendo, alleging that Nintendo’s popular Wii videogame console violates four U.S. patents.

Hillcrest also has filed a complaint for patent infringement with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in Washington, D.C. It filed the patent infringement suit in the U.S. District Court in Maryland.

“While Hillcrest Labs has a great deal of respect for Nintendo and the Wii, Hillcrest Labs believes that Nintendo is in clear violation of its patents and has taken this action to protect its intellectual-property rights,” Hillcrest said in a statement. “Given the current status of the filings, the company will not disclose any additional details about the matter at this time.”

Nintendo spokesman Charlie Scibetta said in a statement, "We have not been served with any lawsuit or other action by Hillcrest and therefore have no comment."

The Nintendo Wii system includes a motion-sensing controller that lets users wave it through the air to interact with a game, for example, letting someone brandish a virtual sword.

Hillcrest claimed the Wii infringes four of its patents: U.S. Patent Nos. 7,158,118, 7,262,760, and 7,414,611, which relate to a handheld three-dimensional pointing device, and U.S. Patent No. 7,139,983, which relates to a navigation interface display system that graphically organizes content for display on a television. 

Hillcrest said it holds 29 patents worldwide, and has filed for more than 100 related patents.

Founded in 2001, Hillcrest has licensed its technology to Logitech and Universal Electronics Inc. (UEI), a manufacturer of audio-video remote controls whose major operator customers include Comcast, Cox Communications, DirecTV and Time Warner Cable.

The Rockville, Md., company has raised more than $50 million from investors including asset-management firm AllianceBernstein, New Enterprise Associates, Columbia Capital and Grotech Capital Group.