Valve Loses Steam Controller Patent Lawsuit, Owes $4 Million

A jury has unanimously agreed that Valve's infringement was not only real, but "willful."


A jury has voted unanimously against Valve in a trial over a patent infringement case focused on the Steam Controller. The verdict awarded $4 million in damages to SCUF and Ironburg Inventions, four years after the original complaint was filed in a Washington court.

Both SCUF and Ironburg Inventions are subsidiaries of Corsair, which is known for its specialization in computer and gaming accessories and customized gear. According to its website, SCUF holds 105 patents for its designs, most of which pertain to its unique trigger and back paddle mechanisms. This is what the case was actually about, with opening arguments in the trial citing "rear-side control surfaces" as the source of the tension. From SCUF's point of view, Valve wrongfully replicated its controller body back paddles.

Companies licensing these back paddle designs for their own controllers isn't a new thing. Both Microsoft and Sony have partnered with SCUF in the past to create controllers with the signature back paddles and trigger extenders. But that's the problem: According to SCUF's lawyers, Valve didn't go through the proper channels to use SCUF paddles and triggers on their controllers, and willfully disregarded both the patents and SCUF's warnings about the infringing Steam Controller.

"Valve did know that its conduct involved an unreasonable risk of infringement, but it simply proceeded to infringe anyway," SCUF lawyer Robert Becker stated during the trial, which was held via Zoom as reported by Law360. "The classic David and Goliath story — Goliath does what Goliath wants to do."

But like in the story Becker is referencing, David managed to come out on top during this trial. Tuesday, Corsair announced that it had won the lawsuit after a unanimous decision from the jury that Valve's infringement was "willful." This means that Corsair may actually be owed more than the original $4 million fine. This is all coming on top of Valve being hit with a potential class action lawsuit over the company's alleged violation of antitrust laws, and a €7.8 million fine issued to Valve and five game publishers by the European Commission also related to antitrust laws and "geo-blocking."

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