A court has ordered Valve to pay $4 million at the close of a patent infringement lawsuit filed against it by Ironburg Inventions over the design of its now-discontinued Steam Controller.
According to a report from Law.com (via VGC), a jury found that Valve willfully infringed on a patent held by Ironburg Inventions through its design of the Steam Controller
Specifically, the Steam Controller included a pair of buttons along its back that could players could press with the fingers resting on the controller grips. Other controllers have licensed and included that functionality, but the jury found that Valve used that concept for its Steam Controller without going through the proper channels, and thus in a way that infringed on the Ironburg patent.
As highlighted by VGC, Ironburg’s defense called out the fact that it had warned Valve about the patent shortly after the Steam Controller was revealed in 2014, but “simply proceeded to infringe anyway — the classic David and Goliath story: Goliath does what Goliath wants to do.”
The Steam Controller itself was discontinued in 2019 and, according to the lawsuit, sold around 1.6 million units during its lifetime. In addition to its infringing back-buttons, the controller was defined by its two tactile trackpads used in lieu of the typical dual-joystick setup favored by other controllers.