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Nintendo Guilty of Infringing on Inventor's 3D Tech Patent

By - Source: Reuters | B 11 comments

A jury found Nintendo guilty of using 3D technology owned by Tomita Technologies.

On Wednesday, a federal jury in in U.S. District Court in Manhattan found Nintendo guilty of infringing on Seijiro Tomita's glasses-free 3D display technology with the launch of the Nintendo 3DS handheld system. The jury awarded Tomita a mere $30.2 million USD in compensatory damages.

Tomita, a 58-year-old former longtime Sony Corp employee, sued Nintendo and its U.S.-based unit in 2011 for patent infringement. He said that he's entitled to $9.80 for every 3DS Nintendo sold thus far, which would equal to $292,432,000 USD for 29.84 million units.

 According to opening statements made by Tomita's attorney, Joe Diamante, Tomita originally showed a prototype to seven Nintendo officials during a meeting in 2003. Three of those officials would later assist in the creation of the 3DS handheld.

However the defense attorney for Nintendo, Scott Lindvall, said the lawsuit was without merit because the 3DS ships without key aspects to Tomita's patent. He also said the 2003 meeting was one of many Nintendo had with merchants selling 3D technology.

But the jury didn't buy the defense, and found Nintendo liable. "We are thankful to the jurors for their diligence and hard work," Diamante said. "It has been a honor to represent Mr. Tomita and to protect his invention."

Later Nintendo offered a brief statement, acknowledging the verdict and saying it won't have any impact on 3DS unit sales.

"Nintendo is confident that the result will be set aside," Nintendo stated on Wednesday. "The jury's verdict will not impact Nintendo's continued sales in the United States of its highly acclaimed line of video game hardware, software and accessories, including the Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo has a long history of developing innovative products while respecting the intellectual property rights of others."

"The Tomita patent did not relate to the 3D games playable on the Nintendo 3DS," the Mario company added.

 

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  • 12 Hide
    NuclearShadow , March 14, 2013 10:34 PM
    slabbothis is complete and utter BS from a patent troll mixed in with an incompetent justice system. Nintendo met with several tech companies looking for glasses free 3D screens and went with the tech from Sharp. The implementations are totally different from this other guy's company. Also, it's not even Nintendo's technology it's Sharp's. Nintendo is just buying Sharp's screens for use on their 3DS. So he shouldn't even be suing Nintendo; he should be suing Sharp if there is any patent issues.



    I dunno this time it does seem more credible. This guy not only works in the field but also approached Nintendo with it before hand. This isn't just some random guy who got a patent and attempted to just sit on it. This appears to be a perfectly legitimate case from what Kevin shared in this article.
  • 10 Hide
    JonnyDough , March 14, 2013 10:33 PM
    The way the law works in the U.S. and similar countries, generally speaking, is that if you have evidence that you invented something and applied for a patent, then anyone who cannot also prove that they invented the same thing on their own cannot capitalize on your invention.

    Whether Nintendo stole the technology or not is not relevant. They cannot prove that they did not steal it by providing proof that they invented it. The patent system is kind of backwards, but necessarily so. You can be guilty of theft until you can prove otherwise. The law is designed to protect and reward those with innovative ideas and keep others from capitalizing on an idea that they did not come up with.
Other Comments
  • -3 Hide
    slabbo , March 14, 2013 10:17 PM
    this is complete and utter BS from a patent troll mixed in with an incompetent justice system. Nintendo met with several tech companies looking for glasses free 3D screens and went with the tech from Sharp. The implementations are totally different from this other guy's company. Also, it's not even Nintendo's technology it's Sharp's. Nintendo is just buying Sharp's screens for use on their 3DS. So he shouldn't even be suing Nintendo; he should be suing Sharp if there is any patent issues.
  • 10 Hide
    JonnyDough , March 14, 2013 10:33 PM
    The way the law works in the U.S. and similar countries, generally speaking, is that if you have evidence that you invented something and applied for a patent, then anyone who cannot also prove that they invented the same thing on their own cannot capitalize on your invention.

    Whether Nintendo stole the technology or not is not relevant. They cannot prove that they did not steal it by providing proof that they invented it. The patent system is kind of backwards, but necessarily so. You can be guilty of theft until you can prove otherwise. The law is designed to protect and reward those with innovative ideas and keep others from capitalizing on an idea that they did not come up with.
  • 12 Hide
    NuclearShadow , March 14, 2013 10:34 PM
    slabbothis is complete and utter BS from a patent troll mixed in with an incompetent justice system. Nintendo met with several tech companies looking for glasses free 3D screens and went with the tech from Sharp. The implementations are totally different from this other guy's company. Also, it's not even Nintendo's technology it's Sharp's. Nintendo is just buying Sharp's screens for use on their 3DS. So he shouldn't even be suing Nintendo; he should be suing Sharp if there is any patent issues.



    I dunno this time it does seem more credible. This guy not only works in the field but also approached Nintendo with it before hand. This isn't just some random guy who got a patent and attempted to just sit on it. This appears to be a perfectly legitimate case from what Kevin shared in this article.
  • 0 Hide
    slabbo , March 14, 2013 10:52 PM
    You don't get it. The glasses free 3D tech is licensed from Sharp the maker of the screens. Their implementation of the effect is completely different from the one this guy's company made. Nintendo is using Sharp's parrallax barrier tech for the 3DS. Not even Nintendo's tech, but Sharps. Nintendo met with several companies looking for a 3D screen for their device. They didn't go with this guy's implementation they went with Sharps. It's not that hard to understand.
    http://gizmodo.com/sharp-parallax-barrier/
  • 3 Hide
    fuzzion , March 14, 2013 11:14 PM
    This must be Nintendo's largest ever retirement payout. Lucky fella
  • 5 Hide
    maigo , March 15, 2013 1:10 AM
    Quote:
    Scott Lindvall, said the lawsuit was without merit because the 3DS ships without key aspects to Tomita's patent.


    In other words "Nintendo didn't steal ALL is work"
  • 8 Hide
    ven1ger , March 15, 2013 1:25 AM
    slabboYou don't get it. The glasses free 3D tech is licensed from Sharp the maker of the screens. Their implementation of the effect is completely different from the one this guy's company made. Nintendo is using Sharp's parrallax barrier tech for the 3DS. Not even Nintendo's tech, but Sharps. Nintendo met with several companies looking for a 3D screen for their device. They didn't go with this guy's implementation they went with Sharps. It's not that hard to understand.http://gizmodo.com/sharp-parallax-barrier/


    What we get is that someone with 3D technology was able to convince a jury and judge that Nintendo's 3D technology infringed on the patent the plaintiff had. Guess the lawyers for Nintendo weren't as smart as you to point out the facts to the jury? Until more details are released, we'll have to rely upon what the article states that a jury found for the plaintiff based upon the preponderance of the evidence.
  • -3 Hide
    tajisi , March 15, 2013 7:05 AM
    Not so innovative now. :)  I think this is the way karma bites back over everyone harping and preaching about the Wii being 'innovative'. While Nintendo might be using previous ideas in more creative ways, the question would become when does a concept become different enough to cross over from "prior art"?
  • 4 Hide
    Marco925 , March 15, 2013 7:29 AM
    brandonjclark"You can be guilty of theft until you can prove otherwise." WRONG! Innocent until proven guilty, you fool.

    Dude, That's only for criminal matters man, make sure you know what you're talkin about before you call others fools, otherwise you might look like one yourself.
  • 2 Hide
    willard , March 15, 2013 8:20 AM
    Oh, Tom's, where every thirteen year old is a leading expert on patent law and economics. It's a shame companies don't just come here for legal representation, I swear half the people on this site know more than every other lawyer on the planet.

    At least, they keep saying they do.
  • 1 Hide
    kinggraves , March 15, 2013 8:49 AM
    bourgeoisdudeThat's for criminal matters, not civil.


    Marco925Dude, That's only for criminal matters man, make sure you know what you're talkin about before you call others fools, otherwise you might look like one yourself.


    Technically it's a judicial concept,and one that still applies to civil matters. Let's say you hit my car, and I sue you. I still have to convince the judge that you hit my car, even if it is a civil matter. You are still innocent until proof has been provided that you're guilty. That's...you know...why courts are involved at all? If Nintendo had been assumed guilty they would have been fined immediately. The only people we assume are guilty in 'murica are terrorists.

    Now, surely there was evidence in a courtroom that Nintendo infringed on his patent in some way. I just don't care. The U.S patent system is so broken and bizarre that it only benefits corporations with staff dedicated solely to securing the vaguest possible patents and sitting on them, just in case. I'm all for protecting inventor's rights, but what part did Nintendo infringe on? Was it specific tech or a method in which the 3D is displayed, or was it a general concept like "3D can be shown without glasses if you do this"? Patent cases are far too hard for a layman to judge based on a news piece on the internet.

    But yeah, Nintendo may have copied someone else's idea. Must feel nice to say it after the Sony Move, the torrent of "3D without glasses" devices that came out after the 3DS, and Sony's sudden interest in social networking, game sharing, and second screen capabilities that they didn't show an interest in two years ago. Take a look around the tech industry, it happens. Maybe while we're discussing idea stealing Nintendo can sue every game that has involved a main character that can jump on platforms.
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