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Ever wonder what the patent on the Nintendo Wii U GamePad Looks like?

Nintendo recently had one of their patents associated with the Wii U publish, US Patent Application Number 2013/0109473 (LINK) . US patents are published 18 months after they are their priority date. Thus, this patent application was filed in 2011. If you are interested, this is a link to one of my blogposts that reviews a patent application for a PS4 controller.

This patent application is directed towards the WII U gamepad. More specifically, the application is directed towards discloses a game system, a game device, a storage medium having game a program stored thereon, and a game process method for a game to be played by a plurality of players.

A more represented FIGURE of the gamepad is FIGURE 6, as shown below. Specifically, Nintendo’s described FIGURE 6 as:

As shown in FIG. 6( a), the terminal device 7 includes a touch panel 52 on the screen of the LCD 51 as an operation mechanism. The touch panel 52 may be of any type, including a resistive type, a capacitive type, etc. The touch panel 52 may be of a single-touch type or a multi-touch type. Inputs on the touch panel 52 can be made with a touch pen 60, a finger of the user, etc. The housing 50 is provided with a hole 60 a for accommodating the touch pen 60 used for performing operations on the touch panel 52 (see FIG. 6( b)). While the hole 60 a is provided on the upper surface of the housing 50 so that the touch pen 60 does not fall, it may be provided on the side surface or the bottom surface.

To understand the meets and bounds of what Nintendo is trying to protect with their patent, it is important to analyze the limitations of their claims. A representative claim of Nintendo’s patent application is reproduced below, and followed by an analysis of the major claim limitations

1. A game system having a terminal device including an operation unit and a first display unit, and a plurality of controller devices, the game system comprising:

a first control unit for moving a first object, which is arranged in a predetermined game space, in accordance with an operation performed on the terminal device;

a second control unit for moving second objects in the game space in accordance with operations performed on the controller devices, wherein the number of second objects arranged in the game space is determined based on the number of controller devices and each second object is associated with one of the controller devices;

a first camera setting unit for setting a first virtual camera based on a position of the first object in the game space;

a second camera setting unit for setting a second virtual camera based on positions of the second objects so that a plurality of the second objects in the game space are included in a visual field range;

a first display control unit for displaying, on the first display unit, a first game image representing the game space as seen from the first virtual camera; and

a second display control unit for displaying, on a predetermined display device separate from the terminal device, a second game image representing the game space as seen from the second virtual camera.

 Analysis of the claim limitations:

1. 1. A game system having a terminal device including an operation unit and a first display unit, and a plurality of controller devices, the game system comprising:

- This is the preamble for the claim, which defines broad meaning into a claim. As you can see from the preamble, the gaming system needs a terminal device with an operation unit (processor), a display unit, and multiple controllers.

2. a first control unit for moving a first object, which is arranged in a predetermined game space, in accordance with an operation performed on the terminal device;

- A first controller for moving an in game object

3. a second control unit for moving second objects in the game space in accordance with operations performed on the controller devices, wherein the number of second objects arranged in the game space is determined based on the number of controller devices and each second object is associated with one of the controller devices;

- a second controller for moving in game objects, where the number of objects (characters) is based on the number of controller devices

- This is just saying for 2 players need 2 controllers, for 3 players 3 controllers, etc.

4. a first camera setting unit for setting a first virtual camera based on a position of the first object in the game space

- A virtual camera in the game space based on the first characters point of view

- This virtual camera can be the camera on the Wii U controller pad only. So that the first person can see a different virtual view than the other players.

5. a second camera setting unit for setting a second virtual camera based on positions of the second objects so that a plurality of the second objects in the game space are included in a visual field range

- this is a second virtual view from the one displayed on the gamepad.

- The second virtual view is typically the one shown on the television

6. a first display control unit for displaying, on the first display unit, a first game image representing the game space as seen from the first virtual camera; and

- This is the display on the gamepad

7. a second display control unit for displaying, on a predetermined display device separate from the terminal device, a second game image representing the game space as seen from the second virtual camera.

- This is the display on the TV screen.

 Patent Attorney Take-A-Ways:

1. I think this is a pretty interesting way of claiming the game controller showing the display differently than the TV. I am not sure if all the claim limitations are needed, such as multiple controllers, or even the multiple displays.

2. A system that is only using 1 player will not infringe on this claim, because you will not have the multiple control unit limitation. This is one of the very narrowing factors of this claim.

3. The limitation of “a first camera setting unit for setting a first virtual camera” is interesting to me. This is because the limitation is just the limitation is set to mean, displaying a first virtual view associated with the first object. I am not sure what the extra elements of “a first camera setting unit” and “a first virtual camera” add to the claim.

4. Because no continuations of this patent have been filed, after the allowance of this patent application I am curious to see what continuations are filed, and what the broadest claim scope can be granted from this patent family. I really enjoy playing the Wii U and I think the Wii U gamepad adds to the gaming environment.

 

 

 

Posted in Blog on 09/17/2013 07:33 pm
 

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