Nintendo and third parties sued over Wii exercise game patents

Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, THQ, Konami, Namco Bandai, and Majesco allegedly infringed on patents held by interactive sports simulation maker Impulse Technologies.

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Impulse Technologies is giving an assortment of exercise game publishers' legal teams a workout. The company last week filed a patent lawsuit in United States District Court against Nintendo and a handful of its third-party partners alleging that their Wii exercise games infringed on an Impulse-held patent.

Impulse Technologies' 1996 patent included this visualization of its exercise program.
Impulse Technologies' 1996 patent included this visualization of its exercise program.

Beyond Nintendo, the suit names Electronic Arts (EA Sports Active 2.0), Ubisoft (Gold's Gym Cardio Workout), THQ (UFC Personal Trainer: The Ultimate Fitness System), Namco Bandai (Exerbeat), Konami (Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 3), and Majesco (Zumba Fitness 2). Each of those companies is accused of using the Wii, Wii Remote, and Wii Balance Board in violation of a 1996 Impulse patent covering interactive experiences "where the motion of the player is tracked to effect movement of a virtual avatar, and the exertion of the user is monitored." A visualization included with the original patent filing shows a user standing on a pressure sensor board with an accelerometer strapped to his leg.

Impulse Technologies is the parent company of TRAQ Ltd., maker of the Trazer fitness system, which is marketed to gyms and athletic training centers and uses the patent in question. Billed as an "interactive sports simulator," the system lets users work out in front of a TV screen, with minigames taking them through a variety of exercises, sometimes with peripherals like resistance bands or foot switches that need to be activated.

This is the second major gaming suit from Impulse this year. In July, the company filed suit against Microsoft and eight third-party publishers alleging that the defendants' Kinect games infringed upon a half-dozen Impulse-owned patents. The sued publishers included all the aforementioned third-party publishers (in some cases for the Xbox 360 versions of the same products), as well as Sega (for Virtua Tennis 4 and Sonic Freeriders) and Harmonix (for Dance Central). With the exception of Namco Bandai and Konami, all of the sued companies in that suit have filed counterclaims against Impulse.

A TRAQ representative declined to comment. As of press time, none of the game publishers had returned GameSpot's request for comment on the suit.

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