Valve has been ordered to pay $4 million after a jury found that the back grip buttons on the company’s Steam Controllers, which were discontinued at the tail end of 2019, infringed upon patents held by intellectual property holding company Ironburg Inventions. The Corsair subsidiary filed a patent nearly a decade ago for a controller design leveraging “two additional controls located on the back in positions to be operated by the middle fingers” that Valve was alleged to have willfully infringed upon when designing its Steam Controllers.
“[Corsair], a leading global provider and innovator of high-performance gear for gamers and content creators and its subsidiaries Scuf Gaming and Ironburg Inventions Ltd., announce that on February 1, 2021 in the patent infringement case, Ironburg Inventions Ltd. v. Valve Corp, US District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle the jury unanimously found that Valve Corp infringed Ironburg’s 8,641,525 controller patent and awarded Ironburg over $4 million,” the company shared in a press release. “In addition, the jury unanimously found willful infringement by Valve Corp. The jury verdict of willful infringement is the first step to a potential award of enhanced damages up to the statutory limit of treble damages.”
“[$4 million] was on the lower end of the damages range sought by Ironburg during closing arguments,” Law.com noted in its coverage. “But the jury also found that Valve’s infringement was willful, which means that Zilly will have the option of enhancing damages if he finds the infringement was ‘egregious.’ Valve had argued that the ‘grip buttons’ on its controller did not infringe the “elongated” back paddles claimed on Ironburg’s patent, and that therefore no damages should be awarded.”
Valve released the Steam Controller on November 10, 2015. The controller was unique in that it featured large, dual trackpads in addition to a traditional analog stick and set of face buttons for control. Valve’s Steam controller also boasted haptic force actuators that provided “high-fidelity vibrations measured in microseconds.” It isn’t clear why the controller was continued or whether Valve is considering releasing an updated version.