News Article

Nintendo Facing Lawsuit Over 3D Technology On The 3DS

Posted by Orla Madden

Major brawl in the courtroom

Japanese inventor Seijiro Tomita is suing Nintendo over claims that he invented the 3D screen technology that the company is now using in its 3DS handheld system. The investigation into the claim began in 2011, when he sued Nintendo and its U.S. unit.

According to Tomita's attorney, Joe Diamante, he displayed a prototype of his technology for seven Nintendo officials at the company's headquarters in 2003, while his patent application was pending. He was looking for licensee partners at the time.

Tomita, a former employee of Sony Corp., felt "betrayed" and "hurt" when he found out that four of the seven people present at his meeting would go on to help develop the 3DS system.

Scott Lindvall, Nintendo's attorney, countered the accusation by saying that the company held meetings with a number of technology vendors around the same time, that Tomita’s was “one of hundreds” and that the 3DS doesn't use "cross-point", a key feature of Tomita's patent which allows multiple screens to display 3D. Nintendo also stated that it ultimately moved forward with the technology from another of those many vendors.

Tomita currently holds a patent for his 3D display technology which he received in the United States in 2008, as well as holding a corresponding patent in Japan. Since the launch of the 3DS, he has been finding it difficult to find a licensee partner for his technology.

However, this isn't the first time Nintendo has been in a situation like this. The company was accused by IA Labs, a firm in Calfornia, which claimed that the Wii Balance Board and Wii Fit software infringed on its patent. The case was dismissed, with Rick Flamm, Nintendo of America’s senior vice president of Legal & General Counsel stating the company wouldn't "succumb to patent trolls".

What are your thoughts on this topic? Let us know in the comment section below.


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User Comments (50)



XCWarrior said:

Cannot stand Patron trolls. This has nothing to do with Sony @neumaus. It is simply a guy with a failed idea and a patent trying to get some free money.



RudysaurusRex said:

He didn't sue so he could hit Nintendo the hardest, when they had the most money from the 3ds sales.



TheRavingTimes said:

If you really felt so "betrayed" and "hurt" that the 3DS is using 3D technology, then why don't you add 3D technology to the Vita and PS4 oppose to sewing Nintendo. And oddly enough, why now? The 3DS 3D technology has been known widely since E3 2010 almost 3 years ago.



neumaus said:

@XCWarrior It was mentioned that he used to work for Sony. Sony and Nintendo are not on the best of terms, after all, they are competitors.
I wouldn't put it below people to take a jab at Sony because the guy used to work there. Hence why I said that.



Placlu said:

Gotta love how it takes everyone 2-3 years to realise "duah.. nintundo stole mah ideaz!!!!" I mean I get why.. Money. but still make you look stupid to begin with



NintyMan said:

If he felt so "betrayed" and "hurt", then why is he suing Nintendo now than back when it launched in stores? Seems like he's taking advantage as a patent troll to me.



MoldyClay87 said:

@TheRavingTimes First off, he was FORMERLY with Sony. He can't add 3D to a company he isn't with.

As for why now? Because 3DS is selling well now, unlike at first. And because he probably thought it wouldn't interfere with his trying to sell his technology. Since it did (predumably), he decided to attack now. Or whenever he filed the suit.



DreamOn said:

The article should mention this filing is not news but rather the recent court appointment



C7_ said:

Patent trolls patenting something that they never used themselves so that if a future company does they can sue. The same thing happened with the Joystick on Gamecube $ classic controllers and other such stuff, Nintendo will win it and if this guy believed in this idea so much, why didn't he do anything with it for 8-10 years?



Linkuini said:

If he was looking for licensees that would help him make something using the idea he patented, I don't think it's fair to call him a patent troll. If I'm not mistaken, a patent troll simply files or purchases patents in order to obtain money from patent infringement lawsuits, with no intention of actually manufacturing a product. From what it says in this article, I could probably have sympathy for either side of this one.



Magnet_Man018 said:

Nintendo: Yeah, or 3DS is a success, not like your vita. U MAD, Sony?
Sony: (Can't stand Nintendo's success) Let's sue them!




Shane904 said:

Can't you guys read he was a FORMER Sony employee.

The multiple screen 3d sounds interesting. Considering your eyes have to move to look at both screens, that might make the 3DS's one screen that is 3D a bit less nauseating to look at from another angle.



StephenYap3 said:

@C7_ I know, right? If you're going to patent something, use it. Don't just patent it and leave it in your house to collect dust for a ton of years. If you're not going to use it, what's the point of patenting it?



ultraraichu said:

Lawsuit against Nintendo for Wii's motion control... Check
Lawsuit against Nintendo for 3DS's 3D technology... Check
Lawsuit against Nintendo for Wii U's Gamepad feature(s)... Pending

Edit: Almost forgot
Lawsuit against Nintendo for Gamecube Wavebird controller... Check



Assassinated said:

This is not the work of a patent troll. This man feels he has a legitimate claim against Nintendo, since he showed them his invention hoping they would license it. When they come out with a product strikingly similar to the technology he displayed for them, he felt Nintendo stole his idea directly. His case may not be entirely without holes, but this certainly is not just the work of a greedy patent troll trying to steal a chunk of Nintendo's money.



Rect_Pola said:

I thought it was covered that Nintendo worked with a different 3D company not that they developed it and were seeking patents or anything.



TrueWiiMaster said:

If Nintendo pursued technology presented by someone else, who would likely also have a patent, wouldn't that make his argument pretty much worthless?



zoroarkrules25 said:

This is just another pointless lawsuit. nintendo will win just like the lawsuit where a guy claimed they based kadrabra after him.



AlexSora89 said:

@zororarkrules25: You mean Uri Geller (Ungeller being Kadabra's japanese name IIRC)? Almost forgot about that one, back when I read about it in an Italian magazine. Ahh, the memories.

Back on topic anyway - lol, that dude could have waited until the 3DS's successor was out, while he was at it. This lawsuit could be taken seriously if only he had filed it right after launch.



DarkKirby said:

Companies face lawsuits like this on a daily basis.

For some people who might wonder why people wait to sue, it's because they want to make sure the product is successful 1st, although Nintendo had money anyway.

The fact that he openly claims that his patent was pending while displaying his "invention" means he should already lose the case.



AcesHigh said:

Reading comprehension people... the article states, "The investigation into the claim began in 2011, when he sued Nintendo and its U.S. unit." Its the second sentence of the article... he didn't just sue them.



BakaKnight said:

This story is quite ironic...
The guy had first his idea rejected by Nintendo and now his work is worthless cause Nintendo itself created and sold worldwide a device with the same properties.

From a side I get why the guy be angry towards Nintendo, but seriously... if the 3DS screen is not even based on the key point of his patent than they just didn't steal his idea!

He was just very unlucky that someone else sold and get success with a similar idea before him and he wouldn't be the first person in history to which this unlucky case happened.

On a side note: Great pic choice for the article!!!
Go Phoenix!!! Protect our Nintendo!!! XD



Shworange said:

Yep, if it displays 3D using a method different than this guy's patten, then there really is no suit here. Especially if Nintendo proves that multiple 3D vendors were met with and another bid ultimately won, which will be very easy.



Discostew said:

So, the "inventor" is going after Nintendo when Sharp is the one that makes the screens? That's why the whole "former Sony employee" sounds peculiar. To me this sounds like someone trying to earn an easy buck, considering it is easy to put a price on something like the 3DS that has 30+ million units sold rather than going after Sharp.



pntjr said:

Hobo: Man, I'm hungry, but I don't have money for food. Oh, I see the 3DS is doing really well and Nintendo is making alot of money. Hmmm.... should I get a job or get a percentage of Nintendo's money and never have to work again.



Captain_Balko said:

We'll see how this plays out, but I'm quite certain Nintendo will win. They can easily poke some holes in this guys case with their superior legal team. Although, remember how Apple sued Samsung for "a touch screen phone with rounded corners" and somehow won? This does not bode well with me... Still, Apple is a multi-billion dollar corporation who can afford the top lawyers, which puts them on an equal playing field with Samsung, and Nintendo has money to spare while this guy with the 3D technology claims presumably does not (since he doesn't own a multi-billion dollar corporation).



WaxxyOne said:

At least this guy has a claim that sounds like it could potentially be infringement. It'd be different if he had no relationship with Nintendo prior to the lawsuit, but it sounds like both sides are admitting that they met with the intention of creating a 3D system. Still, it sounds like they didn't opt to go with his specific technology so he might just be looking for a quick buck. I'm sure if Nintendo had chosen his design they would have given him the appropriate compensation.



DaveC said:

I think next Apple will sue because the 3DS XL is rectangular with round edges. Apple patented rectangles, remember?



3dbrains said:

Main article: Parallax barrier

The principle of the parallax barrier was independently invented by Auguste Berthier, who published first but produced no practical results,[4]
and by Frederic E. Ives
, who made and exhibited the first known functional autostereoscopic image in 1901.[5]
 About two years later, Ives began selling specimen images as novelties, the first known commercial use. Nearly a century later, Sharp
 developed the electronic flat-panel application of this old technology to commercialization, briefly selling two laptops with the world's only 3D LCD screens.[6]
 These displays are no longer available from Sharp but are still being manufactured and further developed from other companies like Tridelity and SpatialView. Similarly, Hitachi has released the first 3D mobile phone for the Japanese market under distribution by KDDI.[7]
 In 2009, Fujifilm released the Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W1
 digital camera, which features a built-in autostereoscopic LCD display measuring 2.8" diagonal. Nintendo
 has also implemented this technology on its latest portable gaming console, theNintendo 3DS



WindWakerLink said:

" The case was dismissed, with Rick Flamm, Nintendo of America’s senior vice president of Legal & General Counsel stating the company wouldn't "succumb to patent trolls".

Hahahaha! Love that! XD



Rockman said:

Sharp invented this and nintendo has a license on the tech. so.. it's pretty useless to sue nintendo... yawn..

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