By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - Nintendo Co, one of the world's largest makers of video game players, won a U.S. appeals court decision in a patent case that will allow it to keep importing its popular Wii system into the United States.
Monday's decision by the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. affirmed a January 2012 ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission, which handles many technology patent disputes.
The decision against Motiva LLC, which sued Nintendo in 2008, could make it harder for U.S. companies to halt imports of products that allegedly infringe patents on grounds they want to establish a "domestic industry" for similar products.
In January, in a patent dispute between InterDigital inc and Nokia Oyj over wireless phones, the Federal Circuit said companies could seek such relief when they sought to license products incorporating their patents, even if such products were not being made.
Motiva, which is based in Dublin, Ohio, had claimed that Wii infringed two patents for a system to track a game user's position and body movement.
A three-judge Federal Circuit panel agreed with the ITC that the main impetus behind Motiva's litigation against Kyoto, Japan-based Nintendo was to win damages or a settlement, not to license or make products incorporating Motiva's patents.
This panel said Motiva's litigation did not amount to the "significant" or "substantial" investment toward commercializing patented technology that was required under a patent protection law, known as the Tariff Act, that sets limits on imports.
"Motiva's litigation was targeted at financial gains, not at encouraging adoption of Motiva's patented technology," Circuit Judge Sharon Prost wrote. "There is simply no reasonable likelihood that, after successful litigation against Nintendo, Motiva's patented technology would have been licensed by partners who would have incorporated it."
The ITC had also concluded that Nintendo did not infringe the Motiva patents.
Christopher Banys, a lawyer for Motiva, called Monday's decision "unfortunate" but said the case will continue.
"We are confident that Motiva will be vindicated when its case is tried in district court," he said.
Richard Medway, deputy general counsel of Nintendo of America, in a statement said the company is pleased with the Federal Circuit decision.
Wii's major competitors include Sony Corp's PlayStation and Microsoft Corp's Xbox.
The case is Motiva LLC v. International Trade Commission, U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-1252.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Andrew Hay and Nick Zieminski)