Valve Corporation is facing a lawsuit over allegations that it plagiarized the design of its Steam Controller hardware from a similar design already patented by another manufacturer.
Ironburg Inventions, acting on behalf of third-party controller maker SCUF, claims that it warned Valve back in 2014 that the design for its Steam Controller infringed upon Ironburg patents, but that Valve went ahead with the design anyway. The Steam Controller launched in 2015, where the pricey pad sold an estimated 1.5 million units. The device was then discontinued in the fall of 2019.
The patent in question refers to the Steam Controller’s rear-side triggers, which sit on the reverse on the pad and can be operated by the player’s middle fingers. A patent for such an invention was filed by Simon Burgess and Ironburg CEO Duncan Ironmonger back in 2011. Ironburg has since officially sub-licensed the design to the Xbox brand.
In opening arguments, Ironburg’s lawyer Robert Becker called the situation “the classic David and Goliath story,” claiming that “Valve did know that its conduct involved an unreasonable risk of infringement, but it simply proceeded to infringe anyway.”
Valve, meanwhile, appears to have complete confidence in its defense. “Ironburg’s case will be based on altered graphics, modified pictures, and skewed viewing angles […] then they’ll ask you to make that decision based on an altered reality,” Valve lawyer Trent Webb told jurors. “Nothing you will see or hear from Ironburg will change what you can see with your own eyes and feel with your own hands when you get that Steam Controller. Alternative reality has no place here.”