Nintendo Switch US Imports Are Under Threat

Here we go again: the Nintendo Switch is fairly unique as far as modern consoles go, but one smart device accessory maker is claiming that the Switch's detachable Joy-Con controllers infringe on patents it holds. That accessory maker is Gamevice, perhaps best known as the creator of the ill-fated Wikipad. Though the Wikipad hasn't been produced for a few years at this point, Gamevice is still making detachable controllers for smartphones and tablets.

If this sounds familiar to you, that's because it is. Last year, Gamevice sued Nintendo for patent infringement, but that lawsuit was eventually dropped in October 2017. Now, the United States International Trade Commission is looking into Gamevice's claims, and it's possible that Nintendo could be stopped from importing Switch consoles into the country as a result.

The USITC published a statement today that said the agency is looking into Gamevice's complaint of patent infringement, which was filed on March 30, 2018. Though Commission doesn't name the Switch directly, it does say that it's investigating "certain portable gaming console systems with attachable handheld controllers and components thereof," and named Nintendo as the respondent in the complaint, leaving pretty much nothing to the imagination.

Gamevice is asking that the USITC issue "a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders." If those are granted, then they would temporarily prevent Nintendo from importing Switch consoles into the US, halting sales altogether. While that would be a pretty awful outcome for Nintendo, it doesn't seem like a very likely one.

Still, with the investigation underway, there's no telling what the USITC might determine. That's important to point out, as the agency makes it clear in this statement that it "has not yet made any decision on the merits of this case." The USITC will announce a target date for the completion of its investigation at some point within the next 45 days, and at that time, we should have more answers. Stay tuned.