Valve stands accused of patent infringement in the first ever patent jury trial to be conducted remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The case is being heard by Judge Thomas Zilly of the Western District of Washington, with attorneys for Valve and plaintiff Ironburg Inventions giving evidence from various locations via Zoom, Law360 reports.
Ironburg alleges that Half-Life and Portal maker Valve was warned in 2014 that that a prototype of the Steam Controller shown at the CES trade show featured the same rear-side controls it had recently patented.
The patent, for additional controls on the back of a pad to be operated by the user’s middle fingers, would later be licensed by Microsoft for use in its Xbox Elite controllers, which feature rear paddles.
“Ironburg really created a new category of controllers,” the company’s lawyer, Robert Becker, argued.
Despite the alleged warning, Valve went on to launch its controller and reportedly sold 1.6 million units before the product was discontinued in 2019.
“Valve did know that its conduct involved an unreasonable risk of infringement, but it simply proceeded to infringe anyway — the classic David and Goliath story: Goliath does what Goliath wants to do,” Becker said.
Valve’s lawyer, Trent Webb, said the Steam Controller’s rear features didn’t match the outlines of the patent, a claim jurors in the case will examine when they’re sent a Steam Controller by mail this week.
“Ironburg’s case will be based on altered graphics, modified pictures, and skewed viewing angles … and then they’ll ask you to make that decision based on an altered reality,” Webb claimed.
“Nothing you will see or hear from Ironburg will change what you can see with your own eyes and feel with your own hands when you get that Steam Controller. Alternative reality has no place here.”