Nintendo sued over 3D patent infringement

Inventor sues Nintendo over glassesless 3D

Inventor Seijiro Tomita claims that Nintendo infringed on his patent related to showing 3-D images without using 3-D glasses, according to a report by Reuters. Tomita is a former Sony Corp employee who said that he showed a prototype of his 3-D display technology to seven Nintendo officials in 2003. During that time his patent was pending; he claims that four of those seven officials had a hand in the Nintendo 3DS.

Tomita filed his lawsuit in against Nintendo in 2011 and is represented by Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. His attorney, Joe Diamante, said that the inventor is entitled to $9.80 of every 3DS sold. Tomita also contends that he's had trouble finding a partner to license his technology since Nintendo launched the 3DS.

"He actually felt betrayed and hurt that they were using his technology," Diamante said.

Nintendo's attorney, Scott Lindvall of Kaye Scholer, said that the company had four meetings prior to seeing Tomita, all for different types of 3-D display technology. Nintendo contends that the 3DS does not use a key aspect of Tomita's patent: "cross-point" information to display 3-D images on different screens.

Opening arguments in the trial began on February 26, before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.

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Latest comments (12)

Alex Bunch Proof Reader, ZiCorp Studios4 years ago
Nintendo in nefarious goings on? Not a chance. Well apart from their massive European price fixing in the '90s.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd4 years ago
@ Alex All companies do bad things from time-to-time, but judging a company on an event that took place more than 20 years ago seems like more than a little bit of a stretch.The Nintendo of Europe employees who participated in that are unlikely to even be employed by the company anymore.

As for the case, I'm not sure of the specifics of the patent, but Nintendo has historically not had any trouble with inappropriate patent licenses so I would be surprised if this case has merit, especially since we know they are already paying a licensing fee to an existing 3D tech supplier (one much more reasonable than $10 per system, which is ludicrously high).
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games4 years ago
"Tomita is a former Sony Corp employee"... no comment.
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Show all comments (12)
Doug Paras4 years ago
Now here is the question, is the patent for the idea of 3D without glasses or its delivery? It doesn't say in the article; and can you patent and idea like 3D without glasses? I would think you can only patent a method of delivering it.
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games4 years ago
exactly. there are several ways for glass free 3D. in the past i had been working with a german company doing this, and there were also israeli, and US companies developing glass free 3D tech. (that was almost 10 years back) so i really don't think this has anything to do at all, but let's see what the court thinks!
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Peter Dwyer Games Designer/Developer 4 years ago

I think nature already created 3D without glasses. Pretty sure almost any animal on the planet can use it so this has to be the delivery system of 3D without glasses as pertaining to a screen and nothing more otherwise it's simply an invalid patent and the US patent office still seem to have thousands of unchallenged invalid patents on their books at present. Apple are notorious for filing these things so it's likely other companies are guilty of the practice too.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 3 years ago
I think if you all read the article thoroughly you'll see that, though not spelled out clearly, the patent is for a specific implementation of glassesless 3D screens:
Nintendo contends that the 3DS does not use a key aspect of Tomita's patent: "cross-point" information to display 3-D images on different screens.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 28th February 2013 12:23pm

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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University3 years ago
EDIT: My initial rant didn't see that this suit was filed in 2011. Carry on!

Actually, now I think about it, isn't the 3D technology in the 3DS provided to Nintendo by Sharp? Sharp's parallex barrier technology, or something? In which case, Sharp would have violated the patent. But Sharp haven't sold thirty million 3DS systems, have they now?

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Daniel Hughes on 28th February 2013 1:43pm

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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University3 years ago
From the original Reuters article: "But Lindvall noted that Nintendo constantly has meetings with vendors. And prior to its meeting with Tomita, Nintendo had already had four meetings with vendors shopping 3-D display technology, including a 2002 meeting with Sharp Corp, which eventually made the display for Nintendo's 3DS"
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.3 years ago
Sounds like a down-on-his-luck inventor getting scammed by his lawyer.

They aren't even targeting the designer, patent holder and vendor of the 3D screen itself - Sharp.
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John Arnold Video Production 3 years ago
These patents are ridiculous and it angers me that arogent creators at Sony think they can just get money out of a successful device that they had barely any involvement with, that seijiro guy sounds like a jelous fool who deserves hell in court, I hope that he is slantered in his comeuppance and drowned in hot water, not only is this patent completely blatant, but for something more than 20 years ago this is beyond ridiculous. If I ran Nintendo I would make sure that man regretted the day he ever stepped into the Video Games Industry, I am not being loyal to Nintendo but rather simply feeling empathy for them.

EDIT: I admit that my comment was rather ridiculous, Nintendo is after all is a 80 billion dollar company, so this barely means anything, but if someone tried to sue a much smaller video games company then it is probably okay to feel a bit of empathy for them.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by John Arnold on 4th March 2013 7:18pm

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Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
I think that patents need to be based on an actual product that you have out out in stores, not JUST an idea. Yes it needs to start with an idea but no later than a year from when you are granted the patent you should have a commercially viable product available for purchase, rather in stores or online. If not than your patent needs to to be declared null and void after 365 days. Otherwise more and more patent trolls will come up with these "ideals" just to try and achieve a big pay day for someone else's work.
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