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Nintendo is getting sued over the design of its detachable Switch console controllers

KYOTO/SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (CNBC) — Video game developer Nintendo is being sued by a U.S. mobile gaming accessory company that claims the controllers for the Nintendo Switch console infringes on a patent it owns.

A Gamevice game controller being used with Apple’s iPad Mini at the Tokyo Game Show. (File photo Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Gamevice, which makes video game controllers to attach to tablets and smartphones, is demanding that Nintendo stops making and selling the Switch and wants to be awarded damages.

“Nintendo’s infringement has caused, and is continuing to cause, damage and irreparable injury to Gamevice,” the company said in its complaint filed in California on Wednesday.

Nintendo has sold 4.7 million units of Switch since it launched the console in March this year, according to the Japanese company’s latest earnings report. Demand for the console helped the Japanese company achieve revenue of 154.07 billion yen ($1.41 billion) and operating profit of 16.21 billion yen in its first quarter.

But the lawsuit filed by Gamevice claims the design of the Switch, which uses two controllers called Joy-Cons that can slide onto a tablet computer to allow for portable gaming, infringes on at least one of the family of patents it owns.

One of the company’s products called the Gamevice works in a similar way to the Joy-Cons, using two controllers which can attach to and detach from Android and Apple devices. The Gamevice allows player to control their video games using buttons and joysticks, similar to a traditional gaming experience, rather than using the device’s touchscreen.

Gamevice, which was created under the name Wikipad in 2008 and co-founded by the current CEO of Oculus VR Brendan Iribe, was granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in September 2015, around a year before the Switch was first revealed to the market. Gamevice claims Nintendo has either directly or indirectly infringed on its patent. The infringed upon patents are not found in either the Wikipad or Gamevice products.

In the lawsuit filed in California earlier this week, Gamevice asks the court to award it damages and to order Nintendo to stop making, using and selling the Switch. The complaint did not say how much these damages would be worth.

Now the complaint has been filed, the court should issue a summons to the defendants, in this case Nintendo and its subsidiary Nintendo of America.

Gamevice declined to comment when asked by CNBC.

Nintendo did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment at the time of writing.

Written by CNBC contributor Luke Graham

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Nintendo is getting sued over the design of its detachable Switch console controllers