Valve is being sued by a familiar face over Steam Deck
Valve, the company behind Steam and the handheld PC, Steam Deck, is facing a lawsuit from an old foe of the tech industry over its use of rumble.
Immersion Corporation, a routine offender of patent suits, has now set eyes on Valve over the Steam Deck. The company is known for being a “patent troll” for suing over its large portfolio of patents from absorbed companies.
The suit lies back on a patent filed surrounding haptic feedback, which was the cause for Immersion’s suit against Microsoft and Sony in 2002, as well as Meta in 2022.
Immersion’s suit details intentions to stop Valve “from deploying, operating, maintaining, testing and using the Accused Handheld Instrumentalities and Accused VR Instrumentalities.” The company has sued Apple and Google, among others, over the use of haptic feedback.
In the press release, Eric Singer, the CEO of the company said:
“We must ensure that our intellectual property is recognized as a necessary feature in the handheld video game and emerging AR/VR markets, even when litigation becomes necessary.”
It should be noted that despite using similar technology in Valve’s Steam controller, it’s only the booming success of the Steam Deck and VR hardware that appears to be on the docket for the suit. Of course, this also encompasses any software Valve sells or uses as well.
Immersion plans to sue over the following patents:
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- U.S. Patent No. 7,336,260: “Method and Apparatus for Providing Tactile Sensations”
- U.S. Patent No. 8,749,507: “Systems and Methods for Adaptive Interpretation of Input from a Touch-Sensitive Input Device”
- U.S. Patent No. 9,430,042: “Virtual Detents Through Vibrotactile Feedback”
- U.S. Patent No. 9,116,546: “System for Haptically Representing Sensor Input”
- U.S. Patent No. 10,627,907: “Position Control of a User Input Element Associated With a Haptic Output Device”
- U.S. Patent No. 10,665,067: “Systems and Methods for Integrating Haptics Overlay in Augmented Reality”
- U.S. Patent No. 11,175,738: “Systems and Methods for Proximity-Based Haptic Feedback”
Immersion vs Valve – a brief history of lawsuits
Nearly every company that has been sued by Immersion has resulted in licensing agreements or settlements, giving the company a “patent troll” label.
Essentially, the company might not produce much itself but own the patents that others will pull technology from. Once something has been found to infringe on a patent, patent trolls will then seek a payout or deal of some description.
Immersion’s purchasing of companies and portfolios of patents has caused issues for quite some time. The result of the suit against Sony was a joint partnership in 2007, but in 2006 removed the rumble feature from the PS3’s first controller the SIXAXIS.
Speculation suggested that Sony removed it due to the ongoing lawsuit, but claimed it was over interference with motion controls. The DualShock 3 eventually launched with motion controls and rumble.
Microsoft settled out of court in 2003 and invested in 10% of Immersion in the process. Nintendo joined hands with the company over the Joycons, seemingly not taking chances after the iLife suit in 2013 over the Wii controller.
Valve has yet to respond for a comment, and will unlikely do so until the lawsuit is complete.