Lawsuits are somewhat common whenever a new product enters the market, especially if that product is popular. For this reason, the news that Nintendo is getting sued over the Switch is not particularly surprising.
Engadget is reporting that company Gamevice is suing Nintendo over the design of the Joy-Cons for the Nintendo Switch, mostly to do with the whole detachable thing.
According to the report, Gamevice already had a device on the market, complete with a patent, called the Wikipad. Now if you're thinking this is just some patent troll attempt, you would be mistaken.
Gamevice's Wikipad was originally launched back in 2013. It was part of a new-wave of portable gaming tablets and tablet accessories designed to take advantage of the surging mobile market. Nvidia had the Shield, Razer had the Fiona, and Gamevice had the Wikipad.
We originally covered the launch of the Wikipad, back when the devices were being made available at GameStop. The suit against Nintendo focuses on the design of the tablet and the detachable controller bridge, claiming that Nintendo deliberated ripped on Gamevice's concept.
Gamevice is asking for damages and for the removal of Nintendo Switch units from store shelves. Already, I can imagine a lot of people being angry at the notion of the Switch being removed from store shelves, especially considering that it's one of the most in-demand gaming devices on the market right now, and Nintendo just recently ramped up production for July and the upcoming fall season.
As far as winning the suit goes... it's a complete toss-up, but most people don't think that Gamevice will win. You see, the major difference between the Switch and the Wikipad is that the Joy-Cons are detachable on the sides, and the devices feature HD rumble, an accelerometer and gyroscopic controls. These features are absent from the Wikipad.
Additionally, the Wikipad's detachable controllers are connected via a bridge that the tablet sits into. After the Wikipad itself failed to take off, Gamevice opted to basically sell the controller housing separately for use with other tablet or phone devices.
Gamevice wasn't the only company with the tablet and controller scheme. As mentioned, Razer's Fiona also featured two controllers on the side of the device, and has a much closer resemblance to the Nintendo Switch's design than the Wikipad does.
The Wikpad's control scheme is also vastly different from the Joy-Cons. While it sports dual analog controls, four face buttons and a digital pad, it lacks a home button, NFC functionality, and a screen capture button. That's not to mention that the left Joy-Con digital pad can also double as face buttons when rotated sideways and used as a singular gamepad.
This isn't to say that Gamevice won't win the lawsuit, but there's just a lot of differences between the Wikipad and the Nintendo Switch. While there are definitely similarities there, other companies have come along and more closely resembled the detachable gamepad design that the Switch features, making it difficult for Gamevice to claim that Nintendo ripped off its design.