The most reliable way to forecast Nintendo’s future may be to look at its own patent prosecution history.

History repeats itself, but sometimes we have to wait for technology to improve before we can imitate the past. That is the story of Nintendo’s most recent innovation.

Everyone remembers Nintendo’s iconic Game Boy – a handheld gaming console that successfully outsold its rivals from 1989 to 2003 – but even in a time like the present when nostalgic reproductions are a growing trend, the burden of carrying around yet another electronic device has prevented a true Game Boy revival. Realizing that a marriage between a Game Boy and the technology we are always carrying could have great potential; Nintendo filed a patent application with the USPTO in March 2018 to make the marriage a reality.

Nintendo’s modestly titled “Console” patent application (App. No. 15/923,291) published September 17, 2018, revealing a phone case capable of turning any touch screen smartphone into a functional Game Boy replica. As stated in the patent specification, Nintendo set out to “provide a cover capable of easily operating a touchscreen of electronic equipment even in a state where the cover is attached.” Nintendo has developed a phone case with a conductive portion contactable to a touchscreen that recreates the Game Boy experience we grew to love.

The Future of the Nintendo “Cover”

Nintendo’s patent application has been assigned for review by USPTO Group Art Unit 2621. USPTO patent statistics show that Art Unit 2621 has not exactly been applicant-friendly over the years. Allowing only 63.2 percent of the patent applications it examines, the average patent application reviewed by this particular art unit receives 2.1 office actions and spends four years two months 12 days in prosecution before allowance or abandonment.

Typically, patent data for an assigned patent examiner is more indicative than the patent data for an entire art unit, however, in this case, the patent data about Nintendo’s assigned patent examiner is limited. Nintendo’s patent application has been assigned to a Supervisory Patent Examiner – an individual who usually operates in a supervisory role and is not as active in patent examination – and, as the chart below suggests, little data exists to help predict the outcome of Nintendo’s application. With that being the case, the most reliable way to forecast Nintendo’s future may be to look at Nintendo’s own patent prosecution history.

Nintendo’s Patent History

As seen in the chart below, after little USPTO patent activity around the turn of the century, there has been a noticeable increase in Nintendo’s patent filings since 2008. To date, Nintendo has filed 1322 patent applications with the USPTO. Over 88 percent of their fully prosecuted patent applications have issued as patents, only 175 of their patent applications have gone abandoned, and 368 Nintendo applications are currently pending. Even though Nintendo’s patent applications receive an average of 2.6 office actions and remain in prosecution for a prolonged period of time (four years and 21 days, to be exact), Nintendo has proven that it has the resilience and endurance to take most of its patent applications from filing to grant. If Nintendo’s patent prosecution history is any indication of the future, any patent application Nintendo files has a strong likelihood of being granted.

Patent data and statistics have been made available by LexisNexis PatentAdvisor®. PatentAdvisor™ patent prosecution tools provide users with actionable information to help forecast and plan around the obstacles inherent in the patent prosecution process.

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