Nintendo sued over Wii wand

Company claims patent infringement

Nintendo’s hit Wii console with its wandlike remote controller has been targeted in patent infringement complaints by a U.S. technology company.

Hillcrest Laboratories, based in Rockville, Md., has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington D.C., and a patent infringement lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Maryland against Nintendo Corp., the company said in a statement Wednesday.

Kyoto-based Nintendo spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa said Thursday the Japanese video game company has not yet received the lawsuit and had no comment.

Hillcrest is accusing Nintendo of infringement in four patents dealing with technology for a handheld three-dimensional pointing device and a display interface system for organizing graphic content on a TV, it said.

“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,” it said.

The Wii console has been a big hit around the world, selling a cumulative 29.6 million worldwide since its arrival in late 2006.

With its trademark wandlike remove controller, which users have dubbed “Wiimote,” the Wii has scored success against the PlayStation 3 from Japanese rival Sony Corp., which went on sale about the same time, as well as against the Xbox 360 from Microsoft Corp.

Unlike old-style games that require players to push a complex combination of buttons, Wii comes with an easy-to-use remote to swing around like a tennis racket or fishing pole. The machine has proven appealing to relative newcomers to gaming, including women and the elderly.

Nintendo – which also makes the Nintendo DS handheld machine and Pokemon and Super Mario game software – aims to sell 25 million Wii consoles in the fiscal year through March 2009.

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