News Article

Nintendo Faces Lawsuit Over 3DS Screen Patent Infringement

Posted by James Newton

Here comes the science

The whole 3D-without-glasses deal is still pretty impressive several months after the 3DS launch, but Tomita Technologies isn't happy about seeing the tech turn up in Nintendo's latest portable, taking the company to court with claims of patent infringement.

Seijiri Tomita, a veteran engineer who worked at Sony for 30 years, retired in 2002 to work on personal projects, including stereoscopic displays. In 2003, Tomita filed a patent for "Stereoscopic image picking up and display system based upon optical axes cross-point information", which is a fancy word for "3D, no glasses". The patent was granted in August 2008.

Fast-forward to 2011 and Tomita Technologies is bringing legal proceedings against Nintendo of America, claiming the Big N has infringed on this patent. Tomita's conditions include Nintendo ceasing production of 3DS using this technology as well as compensation for damages and legal fees.


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User Comments (73)



MasterGraveheart said:

This is ending one of two ways.

1: Nintendo exploits a legal technicality and avoids repremendations (or whatever you'd call it).

2: The two sides settle out of court.

Nintendo won't be found guilty. Filing a patent isn't entirely iron clad. You'd need some other shieldings.



pntjr said:

Uh Oh. I hope this won't be the last 3DS. And that's probably why the Vita doesn't have 3D.



Chris720 said:

Wow... Nintendo didn't cover their ass here now did they?

Hopefully (but I doubt) Nintendo will win this court case... could this also mean 3DS systems being recalled back to Nintendo?



bboy2970 said:

I'm not worried. Nintendo gets sued quite a bit and they are fine. Their legal team is quite strong. I've never even heard of this company. It seems a little harsh that want 3DS to stop production completely. Usually companies that sue Nintendo over stuff like this just want royalties. I'm sure Nintendo will come out of it just fine.



lord_hades said:

nintendos lawyers are probablly amazing and you cant stop production and development of something when over 1 million units have been sold



koops330 said:

whatever happens I hope Nintendo wins because I don't want to see the end of the 3DS after such a short period of time



AVahne said:

Meh, this was expected. Every effing time Nintendo releases a new system someone sues them.
I wonder whose gonna try to sue them for Wii U.



_unDfined_ said:

I can't even remember how many times I heard about Nintendo being sued over the Wii "infringing on patents" and that never caused any real problems. I wouldn't be worried.



lord_hades said:

fact the gameboy advance sp was going to have glasses free 3D they did it but it didnt work well and that was made in 2002 and the thing for 3D was made in 2003 nintendo are not quilty



irken004 said:

"retired in 2002 to work on personal projects..."

So a Sony veteran needs more money.



lord_hades said:

oh look an old sony employee thats not supisous sony probally paid the guy so the 3DS could fail and there psvita would rule you make me sick sony



NintendoLee said:

I love how they only realise this thre emonths after release rather than a year and a half ago when it was announced.



Spoony_Tech said:

Leave it to the companies to wait till after its release to cry lawsuit. Nice one. I'm sure they knew of this last year at e3 and waited till recently to Sue them.



Link-Hero said:

Nintendo has been sued so many times since they first became a video game company it's not even funny. People try to find the slightest of similarities between their own products and Nintendo's and use it to get a fast one on them.

They know that Nintendo is a big brand name company that brings in billions of dollars every year, so they probably thought it was easy money. They also don’t seem to care that such a beloved company like Nintendo might make them go out of business because of this lawsuit.

It’s all about the money… So screw everybody else!



Robo-goose said:

Something tells me that Nintendo is going to find a way to win. They might even pull some scumbag-moves, but they'll win.
If they do something really low, I may end up boycotting the 3DS.



LztheQuack said:

Oh no! Not another lawsuit! Oh wait, we've seen these before. I'm sure the patents are actually nothing alike, like usual



Linkstrikesback said:

So... Nintendo is being sued by a company, who, if google is any indication, provides agricutural products.

Yeah, I'm sure this isn't patent trolling. /eyeroll



gamepopper said:

Nintendo is a big company, and has been experimenting with 3D for much longer than Tomita has worked on it probably. Heck, Autostereoscopy has been researched for over 20 years, just because one guy says he filed a patent doesn't mean that much unless he used the idea for something that was similar to the 3DS.



NintyMan said:

If this man was so miffed about it, then why didn't he do it last year when the 3DS was first revealed? People just want to get money one way or another, and that's why I dislike suing. People abuse it so much this day and age that it's not even funny. No matter, Nintendo can hire someone like Kirby the lawyer to handle this and they can go back and focus on more important matters.



R-L-A-George said:

Meh, they probably didn't even know about the patent. I wonder if he has sued the other companies that used it on their TV's.



Ernest_The_Crab said:

@gamepopper You're right about that. The company actually has to show something being done with their patent if I remember right. If they can't show anything feasible, that isn't doctored, they aren't going to have a case.

Quite frankly if it were up to me I'd throw that case right out seeing as glasses free 3D isn't very specific. Generally, companies don't win on patents that broad.



TanookiSteven said:

Hahaha....Old Sony member. When I saw the title on Twitter, I expected it had SOMETHING to do with Sony. I'm not assuming anything though, but if Sony paid the guys to do this, they make me sick, if no, Nintendo will win. If anything, Nintendo has been working on 3D for years, heck even the Gamecube was 3D ready, Virtual Boy and crap, people can sue Nintendo as much as they like, but unless they find some actual defense to use against them, they really should back off. Such Jealousy...



CerealKiller062 said:

Better stock up on 3DS's just in case. Could go for alot in the near future! I love me some collectables!



timp29 said:

Why has it taken so long for this case to reach the courts? Sounds like someone was waiting for some damages to occur to up the payment, so that they could hope for a larger settlement. If this is the case, this guy is a prime wanker.

It is crazy how much people believe in legal action these days. There needs to be some kind of penalty in what turn out to be frivolous or greedy law suits. Like when someone wants a million dollars for whiplash.



CaPPa said:

I can't imagine that Nintendo will be too worried by this as they can show work done in the 3D realm prior to 2002 (Virtualboy and Gamecube 3D testing), where as Tomita Technologies has done ummm.



dizzy_boy said:

just makes me laugh, nintendo are happy to go to court and pay the fines instead of filing for the use of patent documents, the later probably being the ceaper option.
but i suppose nintendo will just pay this guy off with a fat load of cash. standerd procedure i would assume.
but, i`ll never understand why nintendo just can`t file for the use of patents in cases like this in the first place. probably because they`re too damn tight with cash. it always seems to be, "that`s a cool idea. lets use it and hope nobody notices" thought process with nintendo.



komicturtle said:

Yet... Nintendo had this idea dating back to 2001 and probably even had a patent earlier than 2008?

They're going to lose.



cnm_nintendo said:

PFFT Nintendo's not going to lose this lawsuit. Their lawyers are no doubt the best of the best. @Jamouse Yes, Phoenix Wright is the best lawyer there is!



Supremeist said:

I have hope for Nintendo in this one. It seems that once Nintendo does something original and takes technology to another level, someone is going to try to overcome it. Ridiculous.

But no one should worry about 3DS systems being recalled back to Nintendo.. over 1M have been sold already.

But just incase anything happens, get it while you can.



Tony3DS said:

Jacque Fresco (if you’ve ever seen the movie Future by Design) claims he was working on glasses-free 3D movie projectors way back in the 1960’s or something (he’s 94 years old now). Basically, he said, the movie production company wouldn’t spend the cash for him to perfect it. He thought he could figure out the angle and distance problem in a theater still without glasses, and I believe him.

My point is almost every inventor or invention has stolen tech from some previous to it. I’m sure Nintendo took out their own patents on the 3DS design and who knows this guy might have a case, but I really doubt they will stop selling 3DSes.



C7_ said:

They aren't going to stop making the 3DS because some guy thinks he can sue them and get away with winnings that drastic, especially with a company that has done almost nothing with the technology Nintendo's supposedly stealing. Nintendo and other companies have put way too much into the consoles for it to be yanked out, they're either going to win this case or come to a settlement that involves them not taking the product off the shelf.



Wolfenstein83 said:

So they wait until another company puts the tech to use, and then sues them?
Why didn't they produce a product of their own if they had it first?
Also, I guess Nintendo could pay some kind of license fee, but I doubt it will end that way, 3DS isn't going away...I hope.



Omenapoika said:

Nintendo has a history of seeming like a mobster.

For everything it made after it's success in 80's, someone has filed patent infringements. It doesn't really matter if they are true or not, but the issue is "how much the suing party will compensate Nintendo".

Nintendo's got many feet between important doors.



Just10 said:

Sprint put out a mobile phone recently called the 'Sprint EVO' that's also capable of 3D sans glasses. Will they be taken to court as well?



Hyperstar96 said:

Seijiri Tomita, a veteran engineer who worked at Sony for 30 years, retired in 2002 to work on personal projects, including stereoscopic displays




SuperSonic said:

@just10 Exactly what I was thinking! What pissed me off most about that comercial was when they said "only on Sprint" at the end.

All this article had to say is "Sony", and all is understood. Damn you, Sony guy! Claim you come up with something 20 years prior to Nintendo's use of it and sue them. Since before the second millennium's end, 3D was and is on Nintendo's Virtual Boy, Gameboy SP, GameCube, (Wii?,) 3DS, and Wii U. Sony? The misconcepted 3D from movie theaters on their TVs. Typical from anything related to Sony. I am (kinda) not worried.



darkgamer001 said:

Just makes me hate Sony even more....I'm gonna love it when this case gets deemed as frivolous



jerryo said:

LG does it and other companies have. this technology is 10 years old, and it is DEFINITELY not the invention of this guy

he is just a dog sony put to pester nintendo, create negative public image, and stall their sales more because they saw them picking up. it is an all out war. with ipod out there there is market space only for 2 major handhelds. they can do nothing to apple, so they attack nintendo.



BalrogtheMaster said:

"Planning for the successor to the DS began when the original DS was completed, so by the time Konno joined the project, they already had prototypes which would serve as the basis for the 3DS."

Yeah....that was back in 2004. Im pretty sure Nintendo has a counter-argument.



NESguy94 said:

Who says Nintendo didn't have a patent before him? It takes a while for a system to be made.



PSICOffee said:

Do any of you actually read all the comments before posting (I do)? I love seeing the patterns of people repeating what others have said!

Nintendo won against Universal with Jack Kirby. If that doesn't show power, remember this case will be thrown out for the reasons everyone's already said. Thus it will be forgotten soon like the Wiimote one. End of story.



MeloMan said:

Sue happy world, gotta love it. It'll be like this:

1. Nintendo wins, company goes away and doesn't get a shot at getting some free money.
2. Company wins to a point, Nintendo settles out of court, they go away.

Either way, the 3DS ain't going nowhere unless someone flat out just had a 3DS already created and Nintendo stole it as a whole. What people won't do for money.



Capt_N said:

I don't think this co. has been hired by Sony to attack Nintendo. Nintendo might have actually stolen a relevant amount of tech. On the other hand, maybe they didn't.

@timp29 #37: "Sounds like someone was waiting for some damages to occur to up the payment, so that they could hope for a larger settlement." I thought that before reading your comment. It is possible, & exactly the thing that makes this case sound suspicious.

@Jesus Saves #68: "It's not stupid to protect a patent that is being infringed upon." I agree.



Mike1 said:

Just some stupid company trying to get money from Nintendo. Hope Nintendo crushes them!!!



Hokori said:

actually didnt nintendo say the idea of glasses free 3D for the 3DS started in July of 08 one month before Sony



LztheQuack said:

Perhaps this guy should thank Nintendo for using "his idea" much better than he ever would

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