back to article Microsoft hit with lawsuit in Kinect tech spat

Microsoft is facing legal action over its gaming hardware after an intellectual property owner claimed to own all rights to tech that tracks players' movement and enables gaming without a controller. Ohio-based outfit Impulse Technologies reckons Microsoft's Xbox Kinect goes against seven of its patents, Patent Arcade reports …


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  1. Oliver Mayes

    I'm sorry

    "challenging a subject’s physiologic and kinesthetic systems to synergistically enhance cognitive function"

    The moment I saw the 'word' "synergistically" this company lost any modicum of sympathy I might have had for them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: I'm sorry

      You and me both mate... anybody trying to include such nonsense marketing terminology in a serious patent application should immediately be refused that patent.

      Patents - holding back the inventive and creative spirit of humanity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "Patents - holding back the inventive and creative spirit of humanity."

        Exactly, it should be law that if you're awarded a patent that you must be in active development of a product within umm, say 5 years of it being awarded otherwise you're seen as a troll who is damaging the progression of our species and the patent should become free-for-all to use.

    2. Affian


      I actually had to double check that it was a real word

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Couldn't happen to a nicer patent trolling company.

  3. Arctic fox

    I strrongly suspect that this is a "try on".

    The "Beast of Redmond" is likely to dump on them from a great height. Why? Kinect has been out for a good long while now. and they only now wish to sue? The whole situation with IP and patents has gone beyond ridiculous and is heading for the event horizon. It is about time that "Big Corp" recognised that it is not in their interests or anybody else's to permit this farce to continue.

    1. TonyG

      Don't Microsoft play the same game?

      How long had Android been out before Microsoft started hitting on the various handset manufacturers for patent infringement? They're all as bad as each other in this regard.

      There seems to be a pattern emerging, wait until a product is successful and then sue rather than when an infringement is noticed.

      The real kick in the teeth with all the claims is asking for triple damages for wilful infringement and injunctions against sale when the patent owner has sat on it for a couple of years.

      If you've waited a couple of years between noticing an infringement and doing anything about it then surely you've failed to protect your patent and should lose it not get paid a bonus for suing someone?

    2. Oninoshiko

      if only you where correct

      but most of the major players have a vested interest in the system now. Unless MS can actually get the patent invalidated, these trolls are likely to win. Even so, just paying them off is actually better for MS then losing the FAT-32 patent (amongst others). They'll win some, they'll lose some, but don't expect them to rock the boat.

    3. Charles 9 Silver badge

      My patents against your patents.

      I hope they know the story of Kinect. The tech came from another company who had developed (and patented) the two-camera system. Microsoft acquired the company outright (including its patent portfolio) and developed the tech into the Kinect. And IINM the patents and tech date back a few years. El Reg itself covered the stories. So unless Impulse can prove its tech dates back to sometime before 2007 (I think), Microsoft may be willing to come back and say, "You got patents? News Flash: So do we. What say we head to court and see which ones will hold out."

      1. Random Handle


        When did Microsoft aquire PrimeSense? I thought they were rebuffed and so licensed their IP and developed their own tracking software.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          That would still mean they're clean...

          ...because Microsoft holds a proper agreement (in Ink) to use PrimeSense's tech, and Impulse are going after the wrong guys (they should be going after PrimeSense in this case).

  4. SteveBalmer

    I patented...

    a steaming turd. I'm guessing Kinect also infringes on that patent too.

    Really, nobody cares about Kinect, the gimick wore off after a week, when it dawned on everyone that the tracking was rubbish at best and unusable at worst, CEX/GameStation and Cash Converters stores are full of unwanted Kinect units, and the only people smiling are Microsoft, who managed to sell loads of them for a massive mark up before word got around how shit it was.

  5. dotdavid
    Thumb Down


    When the patent lawyers wage war it's the innovation that dies.

  6. Ru

    Are they not going after Nintendo?

    Surely the Wii did all of this, and some time before the Kinect, too.

    If Nintendo has already licensed these patents, MS would appear to be either a) very confident that these guys are trolls or b) in potentially rather expensive and embarassing trouble.

    Come on el reg, earn your ad impressions.

  7. gerryg

    I got as far as...


    Seroiusly, though. If the patent system is supposed to protect all the blood sweat and tears associated with innovation, how can so much be so already patented? Perhaps all knowledge is more widely distributed now? All the prior-prior art as it were.

    Are "inventive step" (your jurisdiction might vary) thresholds are too low, now?

  8. dssf

    Sounds like a diss...


  9. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Re: Arctic Fox

    You are probably thinking of the legal term 'latches'. Sadly I don't think that the kinect has been out long enough for that to apply. For a latches defence to succeed most judges think in terms of years. (at least two).

    IANAL so don't take my words as gospel.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Or Sony…

      Anyone remember the Eye-toy?

      I'm thinking of submitting a patient application for the "method of ion exchange between fluid and gaseous mediums".

      Ohh dear, did I just patent breathing?

  10. quartzie

    I applaud the case

    As much as I despise software patents, MS belongs to one of their largest supporters. Let it enjoy some well deserved patent troll attention.

  11. Richard Jones 1


    I feel that I should now patent my system for preserving life by drawing in air and extracting the necessary requirements for life and expelling the wasted products with or without a computational device. Any suggestions from anyone as to how I can extract money from those otherwise too poor to pay and other animal life forms which do not understand money would be accepted willingly.

    Frankly the patent trolls are a real pain in the arse and should be dealt with in summary manner. Take something completely fatuously obvious and con a thicko in some backwoods court that it is an original idea. I guess that in this case the big prize that Trolls Incorporated will be after is the motion technology used for such things as facial recognition and suspect loiterers in public places. Those who give their suspect activities away by the nature of their non natural movements.

    Will they also go after all those historic cases of spot the ball where you were supposed to use your knowledge and understanding of body movements to know where the ball was going?

  12. NoneSuch


    Remember those Pet Rocks. Guess with all this patent litigation they will be coming back in style soon.

    Oh look Mica. Oooooo Quartzite....

    The only winners of this is the laywers.

  13. Kwac


    Wonder if MS will go the court route or just buy them out?

    I won't be betting on them crumbling the same way that HTC etc did with their MS 'licenses' to run Android.

  14. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Here we go again...

    I dislike MS as much as the next person but this is really pathetic. The thing has been out for over a year now, only now these vermin crawl out of the woodpile and start scavenging for money for their supposed ideas.

    Why are these patents so flipping vague?! "Thing for doing doing something that I thought of one night while watching the TV which my wife thought might be useful, so I wrote it down and here it is!"

  15. DavCrav Silver badge

    Show me their product

    Let me see the product they got the patent on. Was it on sale? Did they even build it? If not, fuck off and die.

    In general, if you patent the idea for a piece of equipment, and cannot make it, your patent should become invalid. Otherwise, can I patent "method for travelling by car over 280mph" and sue the first car manufacturer to build one?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "Any suggestions from anyone as to how I can extract money from those otherwise too poor to pay and other animal life forms which do not understand money would be accepted willingly."

      I have one or two ideas, which I've patented and I'm not telling you what they are. Now, go make me rich.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just had the same thought

      (Hit the submit button earlier, having not read the whole page.)

      I'd love to see someone try it actually… it would prove just how flawed the patent system is.

    3. Vic

      Re: Show me their product

      > if you ... cannot make it, your patent should become invalid.


      There are times when you might invent something, but not have the wherewithal actually to make the thing. Suppose, for example, you invented a truly innovative engine that would propel the human race between the stars - but wouldn't work in an atmosphere...

      > Otherwise, can I patent "method for travelling by car over 280mph" and

      > sue the first car manufacturer to build one?

      If you invented a new method to get a car to 280mph, that would be reasonable. If you patented "travelling at 280mph", then that would be a truly idiotic patent for the PTO to grant. But they would, of course, because they're numbskulls that ignore prior art and obviousness in their pursuit of bigger numbers...

      See US patent 6520942 to see just how cretinous the USPTO can be.


      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        You haven't disagreed with me

        "There are times when you might invent something, but not have the wherewithal actually to make the thing. Suppose, for example, you invented a truly innovative engine that would propel the human race between the stars - but wouldn't work in an atmosphere..."

        Then you can at least build it. It might not be able to be switched on, but you can build it. And even if you cannot, you can provide detailed plans and design specifications when requested. If this company can come up with a blueprint for a Kinect-style interface dated before Kinect was invented, I will retract my statement.

        "If you invented a new method to get a car to 280mph, that would be reasonable. If you patented "travelling at 280mph", then that would be a truly idiotic patent for the PTO to grant."

        I agree. But I don't see a blueprint for a human-machine interface in the patent, just the idea that a human can interact with a machine, and flow charts. (E.g., 6,308,565, which they are claiming an infringement of.) It describes a process of feedback, an algorithm essentially, without producing an object that can perform the algorithm. That's the hard part. Coming up with the idea is easy, and fairly obvious actually.

  16. Chris Miller

    Prior art

    Intel demonstrated this capability at Demo in February 1996 (with a surfing simulator IIRC). It got a little overshadowed by US Robotics announcing the first Pilot.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Around and around we go

    These patent suits are becoming a cancer.

    To reform, they need to ban software patents period. On the hardware front, unless you are actively developing, making or selling a product which contains your patented technology then they should automatically become public domain.

  18. Magnus_Pym

    Breathing Huh!

    I'm patenting the use of carbon and carbon based chemistry as building block for autonomous self replicating devices. I may also go for sulphur for use on other planets, just in case.

  19. ForthIsNotDead
    Thumb Down

    It's just not worth...

    ...doing business in the USA anymore.

  20. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Impulse Technologies, huh ?

    Sure, I remember ! I bought one of their controllers . . . uh, nope, never saw one. Never even knew they existed. And, of all the companies of that name, the only one based in Ohio is a . . . management consultant company.

    Well I think they're about to learn how to manage the biggest lawsuit they will ever see. Little Tom Thumb going after the 800lb gorilla. It won't even be funny, it'll be too short.

    I'm just as ready as anyone to laugh at Microsoft, and God knows MS deserves a good turn at their own shenanigans, but this is pathetic. MS is going to bury these jokers under so much paperwork that they suffocate and ask for the beheading themselves.

    Really, before going after the biggest, most experienced target in the field, it pays to train oneself. I doubt very much that Impulse has enough practice. I think MS is going to crush them like the bug they are.

    On another matter, I'm quite glad to see that there are multiple posts about patents that are exactly what I think : patents that do not create product are not worth consideration. One should only be able to go to court about patent infringement if one has a product on the market. If not, it should be considered contempt of court and the fine should be a million bucks and/or a year in jail breaking rocks.

  21. Bilgepipe
    Thumb Up


    Aren't Microsoft the ones trolling companies with a patent on the Progress Bar?

    Karma's a bitch sometimes.

  22. James Pickett


    Nintendo don't use cameras. Which is probably whey their system works.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    us patent system is in the dark ages

    Words alone seem to constitute invention? Does that mean I can patent time travel or tracking a persons faeces and synergetically exhused droppings to enhance gaming vitals?

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