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Valve to pay $4 million in Steam Controller patent infringement case

Steam Controller
(Image credit: Valve)
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Valve has been ordered to pay $4 million in damages, after a weeklong jury trial found that it had infringed a patent related to the Steam Controller (opens in new tab)'s back controllers. Lawyers representing SCUF parent company Ironburg Inventions told the jury that Valve had been warned about Ironburg's patent (opens in new tab) in 2014, after a prototype of the Steam Controller was first shown at CES.

Ironburg's lawyer told the jury last week (via Law 360 (opens in new tab)),"Valve's intentional disregard of its infringement is at the heart of this case." 

"Valve did know that its conduct involved an unreasonable risk of infringement, but it simply proceeded to infringe anyway — the classic David and Goliath story: Goliath does what Goliath wants to do," he continued.

US District Judge Thomas Zilly of the Western District of Washington found that all seven of Ironburg Inventions' claims were infringed upon, though Valve maintained there were no infringements at all, arguing that its back buttons were demonstrably different to those patented by Ironburg. Other brands under the Ironburg umbrella include Corsair and Elgato.

Ironburg's patent is for "an improved controller for a game console that is intended to be held by a user in both hands in the same manner as a conventional controller, which has controls on the front operable by the thumbs, and has two additional controls located on the back in positions to be operated by the middle fingers of a user."

Microsoft's Xbox Elite Controller uses the same back buttons, which it licensed from Ironburg Inventions. The Steam Controller was discontinued in 2019 after four years on the market.

Cheers, VGC (opens in new tab).

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.