This week, video game accessory maker Gamevice filed a lawsuit against Nintendo alleging that the Japanese company infringed on its patents with the design of the detachable Joy-Con controllers on the Switch. Gamevice is not only demanding that Switch sales be halted, but that Nintendo award it damages for the “irreparable injury” that has been caused since the launch of the Switch.
According to Gamevice, the Switch uses concepts that originated with the Wikipad, an Android tablet that came bundled with a detachable controller. Gamevice has also released multiple standalone detachable controllers for a wide variety of mobile devices, including the iPhone 7, Galaxy S8, iPad and iPad Pro.
When Nintendo unveiled the Switch late last year, the company highlighted the consoles portability. While you can connect it to your television like any other console, you can also slot the controllers into the sides of the tablet to carry it around as a handheld console or prop the tablet up on its kickstand and play in what Nintendo calls tabletop mode. This flexibility was a major selling point for Nintendo when it announced the console and at launch, but now it’s going to have to defend the design in court.
As Engadget explains, Gamevice had grand designs for the Wikipad when it began hyping the tablet up in 2012. The company promised glasses-free 3D and game streaming, neither of which it delivered. From a certain perspective, the Switch is what the Wikipad could have been, which might make the success of Nintendo’s new hybrid console all the more painful for the Wikipad’s creators.