PC games juggernaut Valve has come under criticism for violating existing patents on gamepad technology. According to rights holder SCUF, the Steam Controller was in violation of a number of patents that Valve knowingly infringed upon. Yesterday, a jury found the company to be liable for up to $4 million in damages and could potentially face additional consequences.
The case itself is rather unique, reportedly the first-ever virtual patent jury trial held via Zoom meeting, according to Law360. The case was argued in the Western District of Washington, while attorneys for Valve and plaintiff Ironburg Inventions Ltd. appeared remotely from places including San Francisco, Houston, and Kansas City, Mo. One virtual juror was reportedly stricken from participation as he admitted to owning four Steam Controllers (what a legend).
The patents that were infringed were granted to SCUF in 2013 and Valve publicly showed off the prototype for the gamepad at CES in Las Vegas the following year. Ironburg Inventions, the patent-handler for SCUF who has since been acquired by Corsair, reportedly informed Valve of the infringement at this time.
The Steam Controller was a pretty cool device in its time but has been off the market for years now, possibly limiting the potential damages caused to SCUF. The process will likely be further drawn out as the appeals process has yet to begin and Valve presumably has its legal team do legal things.