On July 31, 2006, Texas-based Anascape brought a patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft and Nintendo in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The lawsuit alleges the defendants’ infringement of twelve patents which were issued to Anascape between 1999 and 2005. The patents have titles like “3D controller with vibration” (U.S. Patent No. 6,906,700) and “Remote controller with analog buttons” (U.S. Patent No. 6,208,271) and cover many basic technologies used by modern video game controllers.
The present lawsuit does not name Sony, whose Playstation was the first console to employ controllers that used force feedback. In 2002, Sony and Microsoft were sued by Immersion Corp. for infringing U.S. Patent Nos. 6,424,333 and 6,275,213, both titled “Tactile feedback man-machine interface device.” Microsoft settled out of court, while Sony unsuccessfully asserted that their technology was contained in a patent licensed from Logitech in 1998. Immersion was awarded $91 million in retroactive royalties and a permanent injunction against Sony selling controllers with force feedback. The permanent injunction was stayed pending the outcome of Sony’s appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, but Sony does not plan to offer force feedback controllers with its upcoming Playstation 3 console.