If I purchase an existent patented commercial product, extract one specific part out of it, and re-use that one part in my own design (as part of a device that I manufacture and then sell), is this legal or would it constitute an IP violation / patent infringement?

In particular, the existent patented commercial product in question is the Wii Remote (a videogame controller from Nintendo), out of which I would like to extract the camera (which is just one part of the entire Wii Remote) and then use it within an original device that I am designing and would like to sell.

2 Answers 2


Interesting question. What the patent holder is protected from is for others to "make, use, sell or offer for sale" the patented device. It is possible that your scavenging the camera from a Wii controller could be construed as "use," but that seems unlikely. And anyway, as a purchaser of the Wii controller, you can use it however you wish - even resell it - without infringing Sony's presumed patent.

But my guess is that you don't intend to purchase a Wii controller, pull out the camera, throw the rest away, then make your new device and offer it for sale. Seems like a pretty high overhead method of manufacture.

If what you want to do is to purchase a camera like the camera in the Wii, then use the camera to make something new, you are not likely to step on any toes unless the camera is somehow restricted to only certain uses. I am not sure how the manufacturer could do that. As a bona fide purchaser, you will have the right to use the camera however you like - even if the camera itself is separately patented. In purchasing the camera, you have already paid the patent holder for his intellectual property.

And that last qualification brings up a another. The device you make from the camera may infringe either the Wii controller patents or some other patented device (whether patented by Nintendo or someone else). So you still have to consider that prospect.

And just to be clear, if you intend to manufacture your own version of the camera instead of purchasing the camera component for your invention, then you need to be aware of anyone who may have patented the camera and arrange a license with them. But that would not necessarily be Nintendo.

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    Comprehensive info here; appreciated. So, generally speaking, when I purchase X product (patented), I am also buying the right to extract the components (which may themselves also be patented) from within the product -- and then use those components any way I wish in a design -- and resell my designed product (as long as, of course, the new designed product itself doesn't infringe upon any patents), is that right ?
    – boardbite
    Nov 8, 2012 at 0:00
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    [And by the way, regarding the "high overhead", I agree; unfortunately the camera component, which is made by a different company than Nintendo, isn't itself independently sold anywhere based on my research, and scavenging it from the Wii controller turns out to be the lowest-cost/only method to acquire such a camera!]
    – boardbite
    Nov 8, 2012 at 0:03
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    It is possible that Nintendo's license for the camera element is actually restricted to use in a particular species of devices such as game controllers. Nintendo cannot pass along any rights to its customers that it does not have. So you may not be home free after all. Probably should run down that camera to check for patent restrictions.
    – user96
    Nov 8, 2012 at 4:57

A complicated question indeed. Contrary to common language use, there generally is no such thing as a "patented product". Rather, individual aspects of technology are patented, which may be embodied in zero, one or any number of physical products. Nintendo submitted dozens, if not hundreds of applications regarding the WiiMote alone. To find out which aspects fall under patent protection would require to look at each patent and understand the scope of its independent claims. As somebody else said, if the camera component of the WiiMote is patent protected, it is well possible that the patent proprietor is actually somebody other than Nintendo.

I find the view that the (paid) purchase of physical products frees you from patent restrictions when recombining and reselling its constituent parts dubious, to say the least. After all, in the end you are commercially selling patent protected technology. I certainly would not go down that route without proper legal consultation.

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