Microsoft, which makes the Xbox 360 game console, filed a lawsuit against U.K. technology company Datel Design & Development, which makes third-party game controllers. Based on a report from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Microsoft is suing the company, whose Xbox 360 controllers bear a striking similarity to Microsoft's. The technology giant claims the controllers infringe on a number of patents. The suit specifically targets Datel's TurboFire and Wildfire controllers, which are sold in various big-box stores, including Wal-Mart and Target.
Calls to Datel's U.K. offices were not immediately returned.
Microsoft, which is seeking an injunction as well as unspecified monetary damages, filed complaints with the International Trade Commission as well as U.S. District Court in Seattle. "We have a robust licensing program that ensures high standards and contributes to a great experience for the Xbox gamer community," Microsoft spokesman Kevin Kutz said in a prepared statement related to the lawsuit. "We have a responsibility to protect that program and the companies that are part of it, as well as our own intellectual property."
Datel markets peripherals for all major consoles, including the Sony PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii, and has run into legal trouble before. In early 2009, Sony filed a lawsuit against Datel over the company's Lite Blue Tool, which allowed users to execute the boot code from a removable storage. The product was removed from the company's Website shortly after Sony filed the suit. Later that year, Datel sued Microsoft in the Northern District of California for unfair competitive practices and for tortuous interference with prospective economic advantage. The suit concerned Microsoft's blocking of microSD flash cards to be used through a memory card adapter with the Xbox 360.
The news comes on the heels of a Microsoft legal defeat this week. The company found its latest request for a multiple-judge review in a long-running patent-infringement suit brought by i4i rejected by a federal appeals court. Microsoft had asked for a panel of 11 judges to review its arguments in the case, in which i4i alleges that Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007 violate its custom X M L-related patents.
In August 2009, a federal judge in a U.S. District Court ordered Microsoft to pay $300 million and pull copies of Word 2003 and 2007 from store shelves within 90 days. In an e-mail to eWEEK, Kutz expressed disappointment with the decision. "As far as next steps, we continue to believe there are important matters of patent law that still need to be properly addressed, and we are considering our options going forward," he wrote.