Valve Loses $4 Million Steam Controller Patent Lawsuit

A Steam Controller Lawsuit Will Cost Valve Corp. $4 Million

Published: February 2, 2021 3:20 PM /


Valve Corp Steam Controller lawsuit cover

Valve has lost a patent lawsuit regarding the Steam Controller to the tune of a $4 million judgment after it allegedly infringed on a patent held by Ironburg Inventions.

The patent in question - US8641525B2 "Controller for video game console" — was filed by Ironburg Inventions back in 2011. Roughly three years later, Valve debuted a prototype of its then-upcoming controller at CES 2014. Ironburg said that it warned Valve about the new controller potentially infringing on its patent but the controller was eventually sold to the public anyway.

As a result, the first-ever virtual patent jury trial was convened. That case has now come to a close as reported by VGC. The jury has decided that Valve infringed on Ironburg Inventions' patent and awardied $4 million in damages to Ironburg — and that might not be the end of Valve's trouble.

Valve Corp Steam Controller lawsuit slice

Steam Controller Lawsuit Could Have 'Enhancement of Damages'

Valve has lost the Steam Controller lawsuit, but this isn't the end of things. A judge still needs to rule on the damages — and that means that Valve could end up paying a lot more than $4 million.

"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," said Ironburg Inventions' lawyer Robert Becker.

Courts have the ability to award "enhanced damages" (also known as supra-compensatory damages). The qualifications for enhanced damages have been contentiously debated for some time, but the gist of it is this: the court can add an additional financial penalty on top of the $4 million already awarded by the jury. These additional penalties may be applied if the judge believes that Valve willfully infringed the patent.

What does this mean for the Steam Controller? Valve finally discontinued the device more than a year ago — if they re-released the old version, Valve would have to pay a licensing fee to Ironburg. Valve has patented a new version of the Steam Controller, so we may see it return in some fashion in the future.

What do you think of the original Steam Controller? Would you want to buy one today if you could still get it? Let us know in the comments below!

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A photograph of TechRaptor Senior Writer Robert N. Adams.
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One of my earliest memories is playing Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I… More about Robert N