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".
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