A company accusing Nintendo of swiping the name for the Wii's Mii Channel from its own digital avatar service is trying to drop its lawsuit against the gamemaker. The only snag is that Nintendo doesn't want it to drop the suit.
Last November, WeeWorld filed suit against Nintendo, alleging that the gamemaker's Mii avatars on its then-unreleased Wii system infringed on trademarks for its own WeeMees, digital avatars it claims to have offered online since 2001.
Currently featured on AOL Instant Messanger, WeeMees give users a simple tool for creating their own custom cartoon-styled avatars. In addition to choosing eye color, hair style, and clothing, users can outfit their WeeMees with accessories to indicate their interests. A number of gaming systems are included in the possible accessories, from an Xbox 360 to a PlayStation Portable. Users can also equip their WeeMees with what appears to be a Nintendo DS Lite (click on picture above), but there is no Wii option at the moment.
Nintendo originally defended itself in the suit, saying that its use of homonyms for common words like "me" and "we" constituted fair use under trademark laws. It has also alleged that WeeWorld didn't use the WeeMee name in the US until after Nintendo had announced its system and Mii Channel, and that WeeWorld can't prove the likelihood of consumer confusion arising out of the products' similar names.
The legal battle simmered until last month, when WeeWorld asked the judge in the case to dismiss the suit without prejudice, which would leave the door open for future litigation on the subject. Calling the case "unquestionably in its infant stages" with no depositions taken, motions for judgment made, or trial date set, WeeWorld said it wanted to see the dispute played out overseas first.
"With most of its current business in the United Kingdom, WeeWorld recently decided that it should use its limited resources to first seek relief in the United Kingdom," the company said in its motion to dismiss the case.
Last week, Nintendo filed its objection to WeeWorld's motion. The gamemaker feels there is no possibility of confusion between the names, and said it's entitled to a dismissal of the suit with prejudice, which would prevent WeeWorld from picking up the claims against Nintendo in the future.
"[I]n the face of disclosure obligations and discovery demands targeted at getting to the bottom of its unsupported claims of 'confusion' and damage, WeeWorld has abruptly asked this Court to let it dismiss this case without prejudice," Nintendo's response reads, "freeing it from having to reveal the lack of substance to its claims, while allowing it to hold over Nintendo the threat of future US litigation if it is unsuccessful pursuing those claims in European courts, as it now intends."
Even if the matter is dismissed without prejudice, Nintendo said WeeWorld should be made to pay its legal fees, as it estimated that it had already spent around $400,000 investigating the claims and preparing its defense.