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Nintendo lawsuit against Colopl won't block developer's Switch release

Platform holder says ongoing patent dispute and defendant's games business are “completely separate matters”

Nintendo is currently suing Japanese developer Colopl over multiple alleged patent infringements - but isn't letting that get in the way of the studio releasing its game for the Switch.

Colopl faces a lawsuit from the platform holder for no less than five cases of patent infringement for its smartphone action RPG White Cat Project (known in Japan as Shironeko Project). Last week, the developer announced a Switch spin-off will be released in 2020 - despite the continuing legal dispute.

In a statement released to Siliconera, Nintendo said: "[Colopl's] game software sales and the lawsuit are completely separate matters."

It's a seemingly odd decision given that the new release is based on the same game Nintendo has accused of infringing its patents, but perhaps the fact that the Switch release is a different title - tentatively named Shironeko New Project - gives the firm confidence that Colopl won't repeat it's alleged infringement.

Siliconera details the five patents White Cat Project reportedly infringes were filed by Nintendo between 2001 and 2006, long before smartphones took hold. The filings cover various innovations such as a 'shadowing effect', whereby characters obscured from view by in-game objects can be seen as shadows (as happens, for example, in the latest 3D Mario games).

Other patents cover characters automatically attacking an enemy near a point where the touch screen is pressed, a confirmation screen before exiting Sleep Mode, multiplayer connectivity functions and the technology used to operate a joystick over a touch panel.

Nintendo posits that White Cat Project infringes on all of these, and first took legal action against Colopl back in January. The case is apparently on its third round of trials and shows no sign of coming to an end.

Meanwhile, Shironeko New Project is scheduled to release on Nintendo Switch in 2020.

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James Batchelor

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James Batchelor has been a journalist in the games industry since 2006, joining GamesIndustry in 2016, and also runs Non-Violent Game of the Day (@NVGOTD). He does play violent games, but always on Story/Easy mode.

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