Valve Patent Infringement Case Goes to Ironburg Costing Valve $4 Million
Score one for Ironburg Inventions and SCUF.
The first-of-its-kind virtual patent infringement case against Valve has concluded in favor of Ironburg Inventions. The loss, in this case, will cost Valve a total of $4 million, which, for a company as large as Valve, certainly won’t hurt.
The patent, held by Ironburg Inventions for SCUF controllers, is specifically for certain buttons on controllers. If you’re familiar with the Xbox Elite controllers, you’ll know what these are, as SCUF licensed the design to Microsoft. Those small back paddles on specialized controllers are patented by SCUF, which originally warned Valve that it was infringing on its design in 2014. The Steam Controller, shown at CES that year, featured the very same back paddle buttons.
Instead of heeding the warning from SCUF, Valve went on to produce and sell its Steam Controllers. Reportedly, 1.6 million controllers were sold until the product was discontinued in 2019. There were even periods where demand was so high for the Steam Controller that Valve had to issue refunds because it had accepted too many orders.
During the patent trial, Ironburg Inventions lawyer Robert Becker attacked Valve, stating “Valve’s intentional disregard of its infringement is at this heart of this case.” He went on to say that Valve was using its weight in the gaming industry to bully other companies, comparing the patent trial to the story of David and the Goliath.
The jury in this case found Valve guilty and agreed to fine the company $4 million. According to Law.com, this amount is on the low end of what Ironburg was seeking. However, because the jurors found that Valve had willfully ignored the patent held by Ironburg, additional damages can be sought by Ironburg and SCUF in the future.
Valve has made landing in legal hot water a habit recently. The company was also fined $9.4 million by the European Commission for its geo-blocking, or region-locking, practices.