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Microsoft Sues UK's Datel Over Controllers

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the you-gotta-be-kidding-me dept.

United Kingdom 109

nathanielinbrazil writes "Microsoft has sued a British manufacturer over the infringement of four of its patents for Xbox game controllers. The suit was filed in Seattle, Washington, and Datel has yet to respond. Datel is a United Kingdom company with a US unit and has produced two specific controllers — the TurboFire and WildFire — that Microsoft wants stopped." The infringing patents are over "portions of a gaming controller" and "portion of a gaming input device having an illuminated region."

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109 comments

Yay! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734222)

Patent Trolls for the win.

Re:Yay! (1, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 4 years ago | (#31734274)

M$ isn't a patent troll in this case. They invented the damned controller for XBox, which Datel copied patented portions of!

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734346)

but patenting a area of the controler that has a light on it, come on....

Re:Yay! (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734428)

you say that, but if I'm playing my ps3 in the dark and a game asks to press the "square" key, i have to squint to work out which one it is. on a 360 controller, they're lit up.

Re:Yay! (2, Informative)

Movi (1005625) | about 4 years ago | (#31735020)

Umm, no they're not. Only the dash (huge green X) is lit up, or rather flashes on certain occasions.

Re:Yay! (2, Insightful)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | about 4 years ago | (#31735150)

I suspect that the creative ingenuity and engineering effort involved in solving this problem is *not* sufficient to warrant a monopoly on putting little lights on a game controller. Being the first person to do something useful shouldn't give you a right to prevent other people copying it.

Now, if there was some major hurdle to adding lights to a game controller I hadn't realised, and Microsoft have somehow solved it: patent away!

Re:Yay! (1)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | about 4 years ago | (#31735180)

Actually, as others have pointed out these are design patents only...

Re:Yay! (1)

Alphathon (1634555) | about 4 years ago | (#31737908)

Exactly - I think the patent is specifically the shape and configuration of the indicator lights to represent multiple things (4 quadrants that can display controller number, flash and spin, and has a button in the middle)

Re:Yay! (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | about 4 years ago | (#31738922)

I suspect that the creative ingenuity and engineering effort involved in solving this problem is *not* sufficient to warrant a monopoly on putting little lights on a game controller. Being the first person to do something useful shouldn't give you a right to prevent other people copying it.

Now, if there was some major hurdle to adding lights to a game controller I hadn't realised, and Microsoft have somehow solved it: patent away!

Especially considering that keyboards and other input devices have had backlighting for ages. To single out a particular type of input device for such a patent sounds absurd and a patently obvious "innovation" - at least in my mind.

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31735374)

Come one, every gamer on the planet already have his fingers mapped to a series of keys on keyboard/controller with profiles for each game(if you don't, ask your parents for your firmware update and install it ASAP), who needs to actually see the controller while playing...

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31735452)

but even the PS2 "lit up"... the small button that had ANALOG written below it

Re:Yay! (2)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 4 years ago | (#31734424)

Exactly what did they invent? Game controllers have existed for decades, and remote controls have had feedback LEDs in them for even longer.

Re:Yay! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734722)

Exactly what did they invent?

The XBOX 360 controller.

Re:Yay! (3, Insightful)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about 4 years ago | (#31734946)

Designed, sure. Invented? That word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:Yay! (1, Informative)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 4 years ago | (#31736602)

Good thing it's a design patent, and that Datel's controller is pretty much copied exactly from M$'s.

Just look at it. [codejunkies.com]

Re:Yay! (1)

Thanatiel (445743) | about 4 years ago | (#31737616)

The controller just looks like a controller.
If you zoom the 6 small shots you'll see it's different (and I would not pay 1 cent for the Datel one)
It has bumps and flats where the MS one is all splines.
It looks very cheap. Looking at it I get a "Chinese crap" feedback.

Re:Yay! (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about 4 years ago | (#31737644)

Ok, I've looked at it. Looks like a controller to me. Pretty similar to every video game controller made since everybody got away from the rectangular box used by the SNES. Which was the only console system I've ever used, just to give you some perspective on where I'm coming from.

As a vastly disinterested observer, I can tell you the view from 10,000 feet doesn't look patentable, in any way, shape, or form. It's a thing you can hold in your hands that has buttons. Some of the buttons are intended to have directional functions. The rest aren't.

Personally, of all the various goofball concepts lawyers have come up with, I think design patents was one of the feebler ideas. I know what they were after. They were trying help companies make money based specifically on the look of a product. Ok fine. Couldn't the design be copyrighted? Or even better, why not trademark? Seems to me the shape of a controller is something Microsoft is trying to protect as their mark. It's a direct dual of a trademark. Trademarks exist to help companies identify themselves to customers, because everybody acknowledges the value in establishing some mechanism to help people assess corporate reputations. Microsoft believes the shape of their controller is so distinctive that people associate it with the company itself. (I'm inclined to dispute that, since in a cold test I would have a hard time correctly identifying the brand of any of those controllers, be it Sega, Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft. But they think otherwise, so whatever.) Under the circumstances, that looks very much like a "physical trademark" to me. The shape and colors and graphic devices of the controller are much like the shapes and colors and patterns of a trademark. They're just chunky and have a back and a front and sides, instead of being flat. So trademark it.

When we finally abolish the patent system, we can convert the design patents to trademarks. I could live with that.

The lawyers should be happy too. "But your honor, my client's prophylactic device only resembles my esteemed colleague's client's video game controller in profile..."

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31737900)

How different would you expect the controllers to be externally? In order to be compatible with the games, buttons and the layout would need to be very similar. While the material, sensitivity, and positioning may change, they wouldn't be exceptionally different since you are making a product that should be compatible (i.e. match what game vendors depict for game control layouts). Now if the controllers are identical inside, they may have a strong case for infringement. I can see the external being close, but the internal implementation should be all their (Datel) own.

Mij

Hey, at least it's actually hardware (4, Interesting)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | about 4 years ago | (#31734228)

As long as they limit their suits to infringements on hardware patents, I'm okay with that.

Re:Hey, at least it's actually hardware (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 4 years ago | (#31734476)

Why? I'd think something like RSA is more worthy of a patent than 'a controller that lights up'.

Re:Hey, at least it's actually hardware (1)

russotto (537200) | about 4 years ago | (#31734688)

I'd think something like RSA is more worthy of a patent than 'a controller that lights up'.

The "controller that lights up" patents are design patents, which have different standards; they cover what the controller looks like, not how useful it is.

Re:Hey, at least it's actually hardware (4, Insightful)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about 4 years ago | (#31735260)

Something like RSA is certainly more important, more worthy, and in many ways better than an Xbox games controller but that doesn't mean it's more patentable.

There are a number of fundamental things wrong with "software" patents. Firstly, software is fundamentally just ideas that you can do in your head. Anything a computer can do is something you can do but just much quicker. A patent on that is directly a patent on an idea; is a fundamental breach of freedom of thought and through that on freedom of speech. Pure software patents should be eliminated, possibly criminalised.

A second, more practical difference is that software is intangable. Software ls much more malleable and copyable. Many different ideas come up, are used and abandoned. The original and non-obvious tests just leave far too many things that are patentable. Because there's no obvious "thing" which actually achieves a particular physical transformation, software patents end up either far too broad, covering many different variants each of which would have a separate hardware patent, or too narrow, covering a thing which can only be valuable if you force others to use it by incorporating it into some communications standard. There's can be no happy obvious way to define the limits of a software patent.

RSA, is a particular example where a patent is really bad because it is fundamentally a patent on basic mathematics. Mathematics has never been patentable, never should have been patentable and has been proven to advance fine without any need for a patent system. Mathematics is also, in some sense "discovered" rather than invented. There just isn't the right trade off to justify such patents and no real philosophical way to justify ownership of such ideas.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31743426)

> Mathematics has never been patentable, never should have been patentable and has been proven to advance fine without any need for a patent system. Mathematics is also, in some sense "discovered" rather than invented.

A patent consists of a discovery and a utility. The patent office doesn't care if your discovery involved refining a recipe, brute forcing a calculation, 99 failed prototypes or tripping over your own shoelaces. Furthermore, any discovery can be obvious with hindsight - even to an expert within the field.

You can patent the impossible. Two people can patent the same thing on the same day. A person can patent a superset of another patent. And two people can patent the same discovery for completely independant purposes.

However, is it unethical for a methemetician to take body of public domain knowledge spanning thousands of years then extend it then profiteer from it? Yes. Is it unethical for a publicly funded computer scientist to prevent others from using publicly funded discoveries? Yes. Is it unethical to patent a pre-existing biological process whose mechanism is unknown? Yes. And is it unethical to take a software implementation and couch it in mechanical language to create a de facto software patent? Yes.

Re:Hey, at least it's actually hardware (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 4 years ago | (#31734772)

Then there are still some factors to consider:

1. The patents - are they valid only in the US? And if the controllers aren't sold in the US and the patents are valid only in the US then the infringement wasn't occurring in the area where the patents are valid.
2. Are the patents valid? Prior art, obviousness, overly broad?

But this seems to be proof that just about anything can get patented regardless of how obvious and stupid it is.

Re:Hey, at least it's actually hardware (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 4 years ago | (#31734966)

I would go with prior art and obviousness, on the "lit portion" bit of the suit. As for the rest of it, I'd be skeptical of any claims of having "invented" a unique controller. I'll admit up front, I'm not ready to examine the patent to decide for myself. I'll leave that to people who actually use game controllers. It's possible that the internals are unique in some non-obvious way, and MS has a valid suit. I wouldn't take that to the bank until the fat lady is done singing though.

Re:Hey, at least it's actually hardware (1)

brainnolo (688900) | about 4 years ago | (#31737106)

As far as I have understood the problem here is not the "lit portion" per-se, but the fact that it looks basically identical to the Microsoft one. If you see the Datel controller, you can hardly distinguish it from the Microsoft controller.

Re:Hey, at least it's actually hardware (1)

Jim_Maryland (718224) | about 4 years ago | (#31739572)

Turbofire Wired Controller [codejunkies.com], while looking similar externally, would not be mistaken as a Microsoft product. If you have seen the XBox 360 controllers, I don't think you would confuse this with being the same. I'd expect competing controllers to look similar in layout since games are documented to use that sort of layout. As for the contours of the control and the internal components, I wouldn't expect them to be the same (other than basics that just about all controllers use for detecting a press of a button/stick).

Re:Hey, at least it's actually hardware (2, Informative)

canajin56 (660655) | about 4 years ago | (#31735160)

Oops, they aren't. They are design patents, not hardware patents. I mean, obviously you couldn't patent having a light on a control to show its mode. Turbofire controllers for the NES had lights on them. What you can patent via design patent, though, is having a light in a particular spot. And handgrips in a particular shape. Analog sticks in a particular spot. And so on. Basically, you can't make a controller that has anything at all in common with the xbox controller, because it's protected by a dozen or so design patents. You'd think that if a design patent is on a design, you could only have one on a design. But that would be bad, because then you could just have your own design! No, it's important to have each button, each stick, protected by its own patent. That way, it's basically impossible to make a third party xbox controller without infringing at least a few of the design patents.

The controller does look identical to an XBOX controller. The black/white buttons are above instead of below. But those guys are all over the place on the different official xbox controllers anyways. All the other buttons are the same, and the shape is identical. Now, design patents can only cover the ornamental portion of the design, not the function. (If the function of your device is novel, it needs a regular patent). So, you could argue it needs all of those buttons. Certainly microsoft has no claim on a diamond of four buttons, X,Y,A,B, considering the SNES has the exact same diamond arrangement of buttons, even with the same damn names! The PS1 had the same setup with 4 shoulder buttons, but they aren't the same shape, and the Datel controller copies the exact shape of the shoulder buttons. Datel could also try to argue that users of an XBOX would be used to the positions of the sticks and buttons, so that's a necessary part of the device, as opposed to simple aesthetics. However, the fact remains that the shape overall is identical, and since there are all kinds of controllers out there, you couldn't argue that the EXACT shape is a necessary part of the device.

So, all in all, no, this isn't hardware patents. It's design patents, which are more like copyright than actual patents. It doesn't have to be a novel invention. It just has to be a distinct ornamental design. Though like other patents, they are frequently abused to cover any and all designs, regardless of aesthetics. Which makes it messy. They are difficult to defend against if your design is close to an existing design, because it can be hard to demonstrate which parts of a design are needed for functionality, and which are purely aesthetic. Especially for a controller, where the games might be designed around the assumption of a particular layout.

Re:Hey, at least it's actually hardware (3, Funny)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about 4 years ago | (#31740602)

What you can patent via design patent, though, is having a light in a particular spot. And handgrips in a particular shape. Analog sticks in a particular spot.

You sure as hell cant patent any such thing in the UK. However, it is possible your "design patent" is our "registered design" in which case, to infringe, the lights would have to be the same shape, colour and position, and a bunch of other sameness. So this could lead to a culture clash. I suggest fill the controllers with tea and throw them into Boston Harbour.

"No controllers without desperation" shall be your battle cry!

Or perhaps you should be throwing congress-critters in the harbour?

Re:Hey, at least it's actually hardware (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 4 years ago | (#31736080)

I wouldn't be so sure about that. I had a conversation with my dad about software patents, and he says it's the same in his industry (fertilizer and seed treatments). The same thing that happen in the software industry, such as broad patents that cover everything, and patenting stuff that has been done for the past 10 years, shows up in other industries too. I don't think there's anything specific about the software industry when it comes to bad patents. I think they probably exist in all industries. If you look at the number of patents being generated and the number of truly new technologies coming out, I would have to say that I don't think any industry is safe.

4 + 2 = 4? (4, Informative)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 4 years ago | (#31734262)

Specifically, four of the patents - 521,015, D522,011, D547,763 and D581,422 - relate to "portions of a gaming controller", another two, D563,480 and D565,668 cover a "portion of a gaming input device having an illuminated region"

the infringement of four of its patents for Xbox game controllers.

Getting his math back (1)

CSHARP123 (904951) | about 4 years ago | (#31734332)

He wants to get his Math back. Did you not read it earlier on /.. This is one of his tricks to get that back.

Re:4 + 2 = 4? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734502)

Specifically, four of the patents - 521,015, D522,011, D547,763 and D581,422 - relate to "portions of a gaming controller", another two, D563,480 and D565,668 cover a "portion of a gaming input device having an illuminated region"

the infringement of four of its patents for Xbox game controllers.

Interrogator: I'll ask you one more time. How many patents do you see? Make it easy on yourself.

Patent Lawyer: THERE. ARE. FOUR. PATENTS!

Re:4 + 2 = 4? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734884)

That's why we call most of this breed newsmakers not journalists.

Ok, really? (0, Troll)

T-Bucket (823202) | about 4 years ago | (#31734302)

I think this patent thing is getting a little ridiculous... "portion of a gaming input device having an illuminated region"??? They have a patent on a controller with a LIGHT on it??!?!?!?!!?

Re:Ok, really? (2, Insightful)

Liquidrage (640463) | about 4 years ago | (#31734350)

Having looked a little deeper, the patent claim is all about those items in regards to the Xbox, which they hold patents for. Not just a controller with lights. But one for their system. This is basically, "If you want to build stuff for the system we patented, you need to license that from us".

Re:Ok, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734378)

That's still not 'novel'.

Re:Ok, really? (2, Informative)

NemosomeN (670035) | about 4 years ago | (#31735322)

I think the real issue is that they don't want rapid fire buttons to give unfair advantages in online play, so they want to stop them using whatever means necessary without opening them to liability (As banning controllers with a certain vendor id would do). And also to avoid putting in place a stop-gap that the vendor could circumvent (Fake Vendor ID). I also think the USB license agreement might forbid both methods, blocking and faking IDs.

Re:Ok, really? (1)

Sylak (1611137) | about 4 years ago | (#31734372)

It's not that vague, it refers more to the lighting up of four lights around a center button. MS has licensed this design to other companies, such as Joytec, who are making 3rd party XBox 360 controllers, but the issue is that Datel is copying the design of the controller without licensing the look, and on top of that selling i as both a PS3 and XBox 360 controller. Microsoft is perfectly within it's right to patent the look of a controller and specifically the four lights around the XBox Button

Re:Ok, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734558)

No, you can "copyright" the "look" of your work. You cannot patent a look no more than you can patent a song or movie.

Re:Ok, really? (1)

Schoenlepel (1751646) | about 4 years ago | (#31734994)

Wait a minute... looks are patentable now? Where's the novelty in this? Is lighting up at some place (even under certain conditions) that novel? This just stinks and that patent deserves to be laughed out of court.

Looks should not be patentable. That's something which belongs in trademark law (it looks such a way it can be assumed to originate from you).

Instead, Microsoft patented it (in other words: it does something novel). This is just plain weird and perhaps Microsoft is abusing this to extort other companies to only support Microsoft products.

Re:Ok, really? (1)

maxume (22995) | about 4 years ago | (#31735300)

They are design patents, which are somewhere in between patents and trademarks

Re:Ok, really? (1)

MrMr (219533) | about 4 years ago | (#31735534)

Exactly; design patents are like blow-jobs, somewhere between a conversation and sex. But not necessarily exactly in the middle.

Re:Ok, really? (2, Interesting)

RalphSleigh (899929) | about 4 years ago | (#31735018)

Actually, if the patent is about the way one segment lights up to show which controller it is (and which bit of a splitscreen setup you are), thats something that is really useful and I have not seen in a controller before the 360 one. I wouldn't mind if they had a patent on that (though the Wii does something similar with the 4 blue leds at the bottom of each remote, so maybe not)

Re:Ok, really? (-1, Troll)

Moryath (553296) | about 4 years ago | (#31734376)

anyone remember way back 40-50 years ago when the Patent Office was still... well... COMPETENT and denied patents for "discoveries" that were either (a) the logical next step (which according to law is nonpatentable) or BLATANTLY FUCKING OBVIOUS?

They're supposed to. 35 USC, Section 103(a) [uspto.gov].

Re:Ok, really? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 4 years ago | (#31734596)

Agreed. However, I don't know anyone who would want to be a Patent Examiner. Can you imagine having to understand *everything* new coming out?

Sure there are specialization areas, but how many people do you think it would take to adequately cover everything anyone invents?

linky [wikipedia.org]
Now ask yourself is this enough people?

At end of FY 2009
Employees - 9,716
Patent examiners - 6,242
Trademark examining attorneys - 388

Re:Ok, really? (1)

ZDRuX (1010435) | about 4 years ago | (#31734958)

Can't believe all the "Troll" ratings on comments from people who can't find any use with these patents. WTF is going on?

Re:Ok, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31737458)

A link to relevant patent law got labeled "Troll", really? Wow. Micro$hit must be TROLLing this damn site...

Re:Ok, really? (1)

physburn (1095481) | about 4 years ago | (#31734404)

Certainly doesn't fall into the category or where the invention not obvious. Can't see that patent holding up in court. Must be terrifying for a small business to be sued by a giant. Hope Datel keep there nerve.

Well it is the same thing.. (4, Informative)

Mekkah (1651935) | about 4 years ago | (#31734318)

Re:Well it is the same thing.. (1)

lennier1 (264730) | about 4 years ago | (#31734540)

Thanks!

The whole design of that product is a bit too close for comfort.
Still original enough but the purpose is more than obvious.

Re:Well it is the same thing.. (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 4 years ago | (#31736870)

Too close? Really? It clearly says “Datel”. I’m sorry, but someone who can’t tell such an obvious difference, should not be able to survive an any evolving community anyway. (Of course in our counter-evolving communities, they can survive, because the worse parts of our society get the most “help”, thereby punishing everyone who ever achieved something or has half a brain.)

Re:Well it is the same thing.. (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 4 years ago | (#31734824)

And how many ways can you design a game controller?

It's somewhat like a hammer - there are just so many variations of a theme.

However if the visual design is too similar to the original you may get into trouble for design infringement instead. But maybe it's easier to make a case for the court with a patent since it's likely that the court then believes whatever evidence that is thrown at them.

Re:Well it is the same thing.. (1)

Homburg (213427) | about 4 years ago | (#31735592)

AIUI, in the US, the protection against design infringement is a patent, specifically, a design patent; that's what MS is alleging is being infringed in this case. If the particular appearance is necessary for the functioning of the object, it can't be covered by a design patent; I can imagine that the general button layout would count as necessary for the functioning, for instance, and the general curved shape to fit into people's hands. However, the ring of four lights around the central circle, which is one of the patents, does seem like the kind of ornamentation that can be protected by a design patent.

Re:Well it is the same thing.. (1)

Dread Pirate Skippy (963698) | about 4 years ago | (#31735704)

Design infringement is exactly what the case is about, way to not bother looking beyond the 'Microsoft sues x' portion of the article. 'D' before a patent number means you're talking about a design patent. Functionality isn't the issue here, the issue is that Datel clearly ripped off Microsoft's patented cosmetic designs.

Re:Well it is the same thing.. (1)

grumbel (592662) | about 4 years ago | (#31742548)

And how many ways can you design a game controller?

When it comes to the pure shape: lots of ways. In terms of actual controls and button placement you are of course, as changing it to much would be the controller non-functioning. Anyway, while the controller does look similar to the original, thats nothing unusual really, third party controllers have always looked kind of like the original.

Who would seriously defend Datel? (3, Insightful)

grapeape (137008) | about 4 years ago | (#31734420)

Datel has been sued 3 times in less than a year...by Sony over their battery tool, Microsoft over the controller and a pending suit by Nintendo over the action replay (which uses stolen code from Nintendo). Even the open source community should find it hard to support Datel after proving they have no problem stealing from them as well (with the pandora battery they weren't even smart enough about it to remove comments). Consumers get screwed as well when they find cheap products they purchased no longer work once the holes are plugged and devices are rendered useless (PSP and DS action replays to be specfic). This is an attempt to stop 3rd parties, all 3 have licensing available for that, its about stopping a rather unscrupulous company that will stop at nothing to rip off manufacturers and consumers alike.

Justified "stealing" for interoperability (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#31734500)

the action replay (which uses stolen code from Nintendo)

Accolade used "stolen" code from Sega to get the console to recognize video game cartridges. Sega sued and lost [wikipedia.org]. Post-DMCA, Static Control Components used "stolen" code from Lexmark to get the printer to recognize toner cartridges. Lexmark sued and lost [wikipedia.org].

Re:Justified "stealing" for interoperability (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 4 years ago | (#31735510)

The first case you cite is about copyright infringement, and fair use (which was recognized long before - the case was about whether it's applicable to this particular case).

The second one is about DMCA non-circumvention clause, and the issue at hand was whether its interoperability exception (explicitly written into the law) applies.

I don't know much about this whole "stolen code from Nintendo" case, so I can't comment on that. But with respect to TFS, this is a patent claim. So far as I know, there is no "fair use" type of defense for patents, nor is interoperability recognized as exception.

Strange arguement (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734516)

Consumers get screwed as well when they find cheap products they purchased no longer work once the holes are plugged and devices are rendered useless

I find it a strange argument that Datel is bad because when the companies figure out how to stop allowing their device to interface with the Datel ones the consumer's product is devalued. Seems that one should be upset with the device companies removing functionality from their (purchased) devices all for a money grab.

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#31734914)

If Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft didn't lock down their devices, Datel wouldn't have to sell lock picks to restore control of these devices to their owners. Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are the bad guys here.

Obviously Datel should credit the authors of the Pandora battery software. But otherwise, their products serve a need (which has been ignored or refused by the manufacturers). When the manufacturers disable these device, blame them, not Datel.

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (1)

grapeape (137008) | about 4 years ago | (#31735328)

Locking down their platforms is well within their right. I really do not understand the logic that companies should just spend millions on a platform then just leave it completely open. If as a gamer your not willing to accept their sandbox, you are always free to skip the device and buy something else. If your looking for totally open solutions there are things like Pandora, Gamepark, etc. That said, I haven't seen anyone beating down their doors for them, in fact all I tend to see are complaints that major developers do not jump on them in support as if the reason why wasn't obvious.

Not in Best Buy (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#31735740)

you are always free to skip the device and buy something else. If your looking for totally open solutions there are things like Pandora, Gamepark, etc.

Why don't I ever see major-label titles for any totally open platform other than the PC? Must I carry two devices, one exclusively for major-label games and one exclusively for indie games? And why don't I ever see any totally open platform other than the PC for sale in Best Buy?

Re:Not in Best Buy (1)

grapeape (137008) | about 4 years ago | (#31735988)

Probably because there has to be enough of a market for it to justify the shelf space? It sounds nice to think that if Best Buy or whatever would make a space for say Linux games that the masses would just gravitate to it, but the reality is that store shelf space is a premium that cant be obtained without some marketing muscle or proven track record, neither of which can be said for any open platform.

While things like pandora are nice for us...for the masses they are just a lump of plastic with little purpose.

Re:Not in Best Buy (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#31739516)

marketing muscle or proven track record, neither of which can be said for any open platform.

It can be said for Lenovo-compatible PCs, which are an open platform. So why isn't there a set-top or handheld counterpart to the PC?

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#31737942)

If as a gamer your not willing to accept their sandbox, you are always free to skip the device and buy something else.

I'm also free to unlock my property and use it as I see fit.

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (1)

grapeape (137008) | about 4 years ago | (#31742020)

Sure and they are free to lock it back...if thats a cat and mouse game you want to play its fine...but when you do so your pretty much on your own. Most people I see just whine about it rather than accept that.

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (0, Troll)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 4 years ago | (#31735380)

Why don't open source zealots see piracy as an actual problem for games console manufacturers? A vast minority of people going for custom firmware are doing it strictly for homebrew purposes, most people are pirating games with their CFW enabled PSPs.

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (1)

grapeape (137008) | about 4 years ago | (#31735448)

Because the people quickest to harp on about the "homebrew" community aren't the real developers (most of those interested in console development are doing it on open platforms or though legitimate sources like XNA) they are pirates...they think its their magical blanket defense. Take 100 people crying over homebrew and you will likely find 1 has actually tried writing anything and maybe 2-3 have actually used anything the rest are all just looking for iso loaders and ruining the image of the true homebrew community.

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 4 years ago | (#31735480)

yes, the real developers DO NOT like piracy.

However, most CFW users for PSP are pirates. I can guarantee that.

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (1, Troll)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#31737872)

Why don't open source zealots see piracy as an actual problem for games console manufacturers?

Because the biggest pirates are also the biggest customers. I will not buy a platform until it is well and truly cracked. As long as DRM is intact, they get zero dollars from me. Once a platform is cracked, I can try all sorts of games and buy the ones I like. Then they get as much money as I can afford to spend on it. How is that a problem for anyone?

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 4 years ago | (#31739914)

Well, no. Just because you pirate the living crap out of something doesn't mean you're going to buy the software. Piracy also isn't the only form of gaming demos either. They actually DO offer games demos for download via PSN.

Also, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus is nearly unplayable online because everyone who's got CFW is cheating their damn faces off.

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (0, Troll)

Hatta (162192) | about 4 years ago | (#31740022)

Just because you pirate the living crap out of something doesn't mean you're going to buy the software.

It certainly doesn't. But it makes it much more likely that I will.

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 4 years ago | (#31740348)

Yes but your ideology makes up what percentage of the PSP using population? 1%? 2? 10? This is true for music but I doubt this is true for games too.

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 4 years ago | (#31736816)

FYI, Datel didn't get sued over their red Tool battery, because they didn't break any sort of encryption scheme. The Light Blue Tool on the other hand, did. Which is why they got sued.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31743574)

Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft may lock their devices but you don't have to buy them.

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 4 years ago | (#31735132)

I have one of the aforementioned Action Replay DSs. The boxart shows it being used with Mario Kart DS, the only problem is that Mario Kart DS includes a firmware update that closes the hole Datel used (along with a little thing called Multiplayer WiFi support for the DS firmware, IIRC). Ironically I think that was the first game I tried to use with it. Hey, it was on the box... I think I was able to return the ARDS for a refund thankfully.

Re:Who would seriously defend Datel? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#31735884)

The boxart shows it being used with Mario Kart DS, the only problem is that Mario Kart DS includes a firmware update that closes the hole Datel used

Nope. The "firmware update" in Mario Kart DS only interfered with booting a DS unit with FlashMe installed, where the FlashMe had been installed using PassMe or WiFiMe plus a GBA flash card. Older versions of FlashMe put some of their code into what eventually became the Wi-Fi settings area. Owners of affected units could use the recovery key combination built into FlashMe to install the new version of FlashMe that put its code in a different area. The hole Datel used for ARDS was the unrelated "NoPass" hole, where the cartridge emulates the crypto of an authentic Game Card.

Source? (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 4 years ago | (#31735342)

I don't see a source on Nintendo suing Datel.

I see that Datel's stolen code from the ROM header from a commercial cart to make the AR boot, but I see no lawsuit.

Re:Source? (1)

grapeape (137008) | about 4 years ago | (#31735506)

It became at topic at one of the GDC sessions, rumor there was that a lawsuit was coming and several key developers seemed pretty confident about it...thats why I said pending. I guess I should have said "possible".

Datel has yet to response (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31734584)

No wonder Datel hasn't responsed yet. "Response" isn't a verb!

Makes sense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31735168)

Xbox 360 controller is *almost* the greatest video game controller ever; it is only the ridiculous pseudo d-pad that keeps it down.

I think I may have found the real issue. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31735282)

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/518f%2BcMKAeL.jpg [images-amazon.com]

That's a TurboFire model. Looks like a lot like an XBox 360 controller. Which is to be expected; there have been "turbo" 3rd party controllers for consoles for decades.

...Except it's for the PS3.

Content of the patents in question: (4, Insightful)

Dread Pirate Skippy (963698) | about 4 years ago | (#31735670)

I love all the insightful comments people are making on this article. It's nice to know folks are making sure their positions are valid, not just deciding that Microsoft is always wrong, and that this is no exception. Anyway, the patents are all valid and Datel is clearly at fault, unless prior art exists that proves the patents are invalid in the first place, which is unlikely. MS is not claiming to have invented controllers or lights on controllers, that's stupid and you're stupid for thinking it. All six patents mentioned in the article are design patents. They have nothing to do with the actual functionality of the controller. Rather, they've patented the 'ornamental design for an object having practical utility', like the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle, or a new font. If I create a font and obtain a design patent, I'm not claiming to have invented text, only to have made a cosmetic change that does not have any impact on the functionality of the original invention. Even that PS3 controller that some other poster linked above infringes, because the design is what's in question, NOT the functionality.

Re:Content of the patents in question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31736316)

Would the old simon game count as prior art. The Xbox use of lights uses nearly the same design layout, but different functionality.

Re:Content of the patents in question: (1)

Dread Pirate Skippy (963698) | about 4 years ago | (#31737722)

I don't claim to be an expert on patent law, but I'd say no. I believe you're only infringing on a design patent if your cosmetic changes are applied to the same general class of product. So if I make a PS3 controller that looks exactly like an xbox controller, that's no good, but if I want to make a bar of soap that looks like an xbox controller, I'm in the clear (unless MS has also patented the design as a bar of soap, which is unlikely). That might be incorrect, but it's my understanding of the situation.

Re:Content of the patents in question: (1)

brkello (642429) | about 4 years ago | (#31743288)

You are being foolish. Slashdot is all about reinforcing the group-think. Fortunately for you, the anti-group-think is part of the group-think. Just so long as there are less of your comments then that of the group-think. In this case, patents are evil and bad and so is MS.

The solution is here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31735734)

Like capitalism but are annoyed by the who;e "competition" aspect?
Use patents!!

Does a little company have a patent preventing you from competing (their original purpose, btw)?
Threaten to open up your warchest of 6000+ patents unless they agree to cross-license!

Patents are wonderful for keeping big business in charge, innovation be damned.

Re:The solution is here! (1)

Dread Pirate Skippy (963698) | about 4 years ago | (#31735894)

Yeah! Screw big business! Let's get rid of patents so that when the little guy has an idea, there's nothing stopping those big businesses from copying and profiting off it! Nitwit.

Re:The solution is here! (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#31738954)

The only trouble is, patents cost so much that if the average guy making the median income comes up with a patentable idea, he doesn't have the means to obtain the patent.

The answer isn't, however, to get rid of patents but to make patents as cheap and easy to obtain as copyright; thirty bucks and a form. WITHOUT copyright's insane and creativity-killing lengths, of course. If patents lasted as long as copyrights, innovation would come to a crawl, much as artistic creativity has.

Re:The solution is here! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 4 years ago | (#31739924)

The only trouble is, patents cost so much that if the average guy making the median income comes up with a patentable idea

There's no such thing as a patentable idea. Stop propagating this bullshit.

Not the DAQ Datel (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 4 years ago | (#31736014)

For those of you who happen to be in the industrial automation & data acquisition field, and were wondering "what, Datel makes XBox controllers now?" -- this is evidently a different Datel.

After some Googling, it seems that the data acquisition Datel was acquired [cdtechno.com] by C&D Technologies in 2004, which in turn was acquired [murata.com] by muRata in 2007.

The DAQ Datel was not some obscure company. They had the datel.com [datel.com] domain, which currently forwards to murata-ps.com.

Re:Not the DAQ Datel (1)

BillX (307153) | about 4 years ago | (#31743512)

Kind of ironic that the Datel NOT being sued was acquired by a company named "C&D".

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