The U.S. International Trade Commission has voted to institute an investigation into Nintendo for importing products that may infringe on a US patent. The investigation is based on a complaint filed by Gamevice, Inc. on March 30, 2018. The complaint alleges Nintendo violated section 337 of the Tariff Act by importing “certain portable gaming console systems with attachable handheld controllers and components thereof.”
Section 337 of the Tariff Act makes it illegal to import or sell products that infringe on a valid and enforceable United States patent or registered copyright. If a violation is found to have occurred, the product may be prevented from entering the United States and the person or company may have to pay a fine. Ultimately if Nintendo is found to have violated the Tariff Act, President Trump will approve or disapprove of the USITC’s final determination.
Gamevice, Inc. creates attachable controls for smartphones and tablets, which allow mobile gamers to have a more console-like experience. The Nintendo gaming console in question is undoubtedly the Nintendo Switch (image above), which has controllers with a very similar appearance to Gamevice’s products (image below).
At this time, no decisions have been made as to whether Nintendo has committed any wrongdoing. Once the USITC completes its investigation, the USITC will determine whether a violation has occurred and may issue a cease and desist to Nintendo to prevent the Switch from entering the US. The Switch will be prevented from entering the US only after President Trump approves the USITC decision.
Right now, there is no need to worry. Nintendo is still allowed to import the Switch into the United States. However, if at any time during its investigation the USITC determines they have reason to believe a violation has occurred, it may prevent the Switch from entering the United States while it completes its investigation and makes its final decision.