News Article

Nintendo Loses 3D Patent Case Against Former Sony Inventor

Posted by Damien McFerran

Ordered to pay $30.2 million in damages

A few weeks ago, we reported that Nintendo was being taken to court by former Sony staffer Seijiro Tomita, who insisted that the Kyoto company stole his idea for glasses-free 3D screens and used it on the Nintendo 3DS.

Tomita's claim was that he demonstrated the tech to Nintendo in 2003, and that several of the Nintendo employees present at that meeting would go on to create the 3DS.

Nintendo's defence attorney Scott Lindvall stated that there were in fact several companies with similar patents, and that Nintendo met with several of them. Lindvall also insisted that the 3DS didn't infringe key elements of Tomita's patent. His protests clearly didn't win over the judge and jury.

Tomita was seeking $9.80 for every 3DS sold, which would have bagged him more than $292 million. Despite winning the suit, he had to settle for $30.2 million in damages. We can't imagine he's too disappointed, even with that lower figure.

[via eurogamer.net]

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User Comments (81)

Arren

#1

Arren said:

HOLY! I want that money. I'd be able to buy an LFA off someone.

Shadow100

#2

Shadow100 said:

Does Nintendo have to change the 3DS design at all? Or is it this one time fee and they get to keep using 'Tomita' technology?

Quote from Nintendo:
"Nintendo is confident that the result will be set aside. 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."
http://www.siliconera.com/2013/03/13/jury-rules-nintendo-infringed-on-patent-with-nintendo-3ds-technology/

R-L-A-George

#4

R-L-A-George said:

Man, 30mil is enough. A lot of people would dream to have that much. I'm starting to think that Nintendo may have actually forgotten it was his idea. Also the fact that the device that uses his idea/invention makes so many happy should be enough along with the 30mil. He had his rights if his claim is actually true but there is no reason to be greedy.

Dolphinsquared

#6

Dolphinsquared said:

He could have easily brought Nintendo down, effectively destroying the consoles under it. But I'm just glad the guy took up the fixed payment instead of a small pie of every 3DS console sold.

DreamyViridi

#7

DreamyViridi said:

@R-L-A-George - Agreed. If it was me, I must say $292 mil would've been too much money for me. Call me crazy but I wouldn't need that much.

Hopefully this loss; both the case and the cash, won't affect Nintendo too badly, if at all.

BakaKnight

#8

BakaKnight said:

I'm not going to "judge the judge", but personally I always found Tomita's position to be a lot weaker than the defense statement of Nintendo.

Then again my opinion is based merely on the datas I could read here which are obviously not the full materials the court had.

TwilightV

#9

TwilightV said:

So... is he going to sue everyone else he approached back then? Because i'm sure Nintendo isn't the only company who's supposedly using his tech. :/

GreenX1

#10

GreenX1 said:

@LuigiMan 200
With that money, I can try to buy Rareware from Microsoft, but I'm afraid that I'm not experienced enough in business to get a good deal out of that. Still, I like to see Rareware free from Microsoft's BS.

Kage_88

#11

Kage_88 said:

Wow, that sucks for Nintendo. They usually come out of these lawsuits unscathed, but it looks like they were unlucky this time...

Still, $30 million is pocket change for Iwata and co.

Devil_Surivior

#12

Devil_Surivior said:

If you read the patent filed, its extremely vaguely worded and so it be easy to try to claim the 3DS is infringing, it will be likely overturned on appeal.

Haywired

#13

Haywired said:

I find this hard to believe. I mean, according to the people on this site, Nintendo is the most innovative company in the history of the universe. They invented all technology and everyone else copied them...

XCWarrior

#16

XCWarrior said:

I hate patent trolls, which this guy was. He got what he wanted, easy money. Nintendo should do the sensible thing and have him killed by the Nintendo Ninjas. Cheaper for sure.

Spoony_Tech

#21

Spoony_Tech said:

@Kage_88 Yeah and that pocket change could be used to develop another franchise or used to further along another series that has been dead for a while. Now nintendo just might scrap the idea all together. Pocket change or not i dont care as that's a ton of money for any company and could effect a job or 10 for all we know!

FullbringIchigo

#23

FullbringIchigo said:

man you can sue for anything nowadays and this one was stupid do he showed something to nintendo and he sued them because they used something similar

that's like my brother suing me because he was born first "i was the son then he came along so he copied me"

man people need to sort out their priorities

Undead_terror

#24

Undead_terror said:

I hope nintendo get's it's money back and makes more games, but sadly that ass is going to make money from nintendo as well....you need more lawyers nintendo.

ajcismo

#25

ajcismo said:

This will get bogged down in appeals court for years. No company told to shell out millions does so right away here.

hityoaZZ

#26

hityoaZZ said:

nintendo should sue sony for bring out the ps1 it was meht to b a nintendo anyway

Bliquid

#29

Bliquid said:

Seriously, Damien, what Sony did to you?
You keep on posting flame articles.
I mean, did you really have to put that this man HAD worked for Sony in the title?
How could that possibly matter?

Marioman64

#32

Marioman64 said:

bah, Nintendo is using it in a way cooler way than he would have, I say that's different enough

iphys

#33

iphys said:

Appeal! I don't even see why he should have been suing Nintendo when they don't even make the screens. My Fujifilm camera has the same 3D screen in it as the 3DS, but I didn't hear about him suing Fujifilm.

ultraraichu

#34

ultraraichu said:

I wonder if the judge and jury were playing their psvita during recess.

Coming soon to a courtroom far from you, the patent case of the Wii U gamepad.

AlexSora89

#35

AlexSora89 said:

I wonder how much money the judge was bribed with. On the dark side, such news couldn't be timed any more poorly, what with all the "doom 'n' gloom" articles here on NL. On the bright side, heck, Nintendo's not even done spending the money earned from the DS' sales yet!

AlexSora89

#37

AlexSora89 said:

@k8sMum: No need to quip, nobody's pretending to be a lawyer here-- well, I'm not anyway. We're just pissed at that Tomita guy, can't we be now?

nastobi123

#38

nastobi123 said:

Damien, shouldn't you put Tomita Technologies ? instead of "former sony employee" thats why I hate sites like this. mynintendonews and NL are like the same sites. Thats why I left MNN because its just like this. I know you wouldn't give a single poopydoodle on this.

KnightRider666

#39

KnightRider666 said:

This sucks. This is just the opening Sony needs to put the hurt on Nintendo's profits. A low blow indeed.

HeatBombastic

#41

HeatBombastic said:

$10 for every 3DS is way too much, and I think the judge did realize that he was just waiting for the money. But I personally think that Nintendo has a much stronger case. Did the court fall for his pity trick when his lawyer told us that Tomita felt betrayed and hurt? If Tomita really felt betrayed, he would've sued them on the spot. Oh well, Nintendo needs to buy Ace Attorney from capcom :P

theblackdragonAdmin

#42

theblackdragon said:

I'm sure that number will go down during the appeals process. It's no big deal, Nintendo will pay the man and that'll be that.

Ed_Rod

#43

Ed_Rod said:

i hope next handheld doesn't have 3D.

Also hope that next gen GamePad & DS have better touch screens.

SkywardLink98

#44

SkywardLink98 said:

@Shadow100 I'd doubt that. It would appear what the court is really doing is forcing Nintendo to buy the tech even though they bought it from someone else already.

Ernest_The_Crab

#46

Ernest_The_Crab said:

I'm pretty sure that Nintendo won't take this result. Tomita is either going to run out of money during the appeals process, lose in another court, or wind up having his "payment" reduced so far down it will be worth rather little (though chances are he'll probably lose since Nintendo intends on fighting it).

AVahne

#47

AVahne said:

Nintendo's case was solid as far as I know. The only logical explanation for them losing is either Tomita bribing the jury with the promise of some of the reward money or the jury themselves are incredibly stupid. Or both. If the jury had in fact been lawful and/or had any trace of intelligence, then Tomita wouldn't have won.
Anyone who disagrees, look at the patents.

Bacon_Gal_Blaze

#48

Bacon_Gal_Blaze said:

Eh, it's not like $30million is gonna have a huge effect on Nintendo, especially when you consider the several billion they already have lying around in a bank account.

JSuede

#49

JSuede said:

@Koto Exactly. This guy's patent uses 2 cameras to determine the distance of the viewer so it can render the 3D appropriately....the 3DS does nothing like that. As anyone who has played the 3DS knows, you move from that sweet spot and it stops being 3D and starts being painful.

Besides, isn't it Sharp's technology anyway? Why didn't a judge decide the case as they do in almost every other patent lawsuit? So strange.

It will get set aside....if it doesn't....the hell? It only really amounts to ~$1 per 3DS sold so far which is less than their profit margin. It's hardly even a dent.

DarkKirby

#50

DarkKirby said:

I think that a jury was allowed to decide this case is ridiculous. Almost all the time juries will award the person suing a company simply because they feel the company could "spare the money", whether or not they actually thought the person suing was in the right. If you think the person suing didn't get all the money he wanted, you're wrong, it's standard practice in these types of cases to sue for well above what you want and expect to get a settlement of sorts. And while I wondered in the previous topic about this why he waited so long to sue, as normally these types of patent suers will intentionally wait for a product to be successful before suing to ensure there is money to be won, Nintendo is a special case as they already have money, I know now he waited intentionally because he was suing for damages per cartridge sold, so he WAS intentionally waiting for the 3DS to be successful before suing, while he could have sued on the 3DS's announcement. He's just like all the other patent suing scum trying to make an easy buck off of someone else's successful idea because he held a ambiguous patent with a general idea.

GameLord08

#51

GameLord08 said:

@BakaKnight: My thoughts exactly. I suppose we're exposed to a lot less than the actual court material but still, I find this very odd at face-value.


As absurd as it is, I can understand Tomita Technologies demanding a portion of every 3DS sale thus far as compensation for alleged infringement (only barely, but I can see their stance). However considering how much that actually amounts to realistically, I'm glad it was settled to a more sensible sum to cover damages. $292 million sounds like a mini-fortune for the plaintiff and it'd definitely arouse my suspiscion.

I still have my doubts about the outcome of this case (Nintendo's stance seemed pretty solid - perhaps they didn't have substantial evidence though), but I'm glad it's been settled. We can leave it in the past now, hopefully.

(Also correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not sure what Tomita himself being a former Sony employee has to do with this situation. As far as I'm aware, this only concerns his own independent company - nothing more.)

Zombie_Barioth

#52

Zombie_Barioth said:

If the 3DS doesn't use "key" components of his technology then I wonder exactly hes trying to imply. Either it does use a smaller part of it or the dual cameras were a big part of his lawsuit and they were similar enough to convince the jury.

I don't mean to sound harsh but I wonder if the fact that hes no in the best of health after his stroke swayed the jury at all. I really wouldn't be surprised if they felt sorry for him being ripped of by the "big bad" corporation. If so things could get a tad sticky for Nintendo.

Windy

#53

Windy said:

These guys sue each other all the time for different reasons. Nintendo will get through this and im sure they will be just fine. They probably spend about 30 million to develope a TV Commercial which is a drop in the bucket for them. So they cancel a commercial or 2 or they dont at all. it stings but thats about it. Also why is this guy a former sony employee?

**windy says hmmm**

Spoony_Tech

#56

Spoony_Tech said:

I love how everyone is blowing off 30 million as its no big deal. Ok let's just say that 5% of their revenue. If you have a 1000 dollars to your name do you want to give away 50$ of that! Not me. That's another game for me. For all we know its more then 5% of their revenue!

DerpSandwich

#60

DerpSandwich said:

This could have been a whoooole lot worse. They could have had to discontinue the 3DS, and 30mil is chump change compared to what that would do.

AugustusOxy

#62

AugustusOxy said:

He doesn't deserve a penny.

This sort of crap is one of the key reason the dreamcast died. Anyone involved with sony is pure evil and should be shot.

klautrec

#63

klautrec said:

2 years after 3DS launch. I doubt Nintendo has break any patent. If they were interested in his technology, they would have bought from him, isn't that the purpose he showed Nintendo his patent? It happened with the Wii remote too, but this time Nintendo wasn't luck, who's next? gamepad broken patents?

GloryQuestor

#67

GloryQuestor said:

I'm still fuzzy how our court system continues to let this happen. It's a broken system that says anyone around the world can just zip into the U.S. Patent Office, file a patent, then when a foreign company tries to sell technology CREATED IN ANOTHER COUNTRY in the U.S., they can suddenly be sued for it?! They are both Japanese companies and the Nintendo 3DS is a Japanese invention, so just by common sense, this should've taken only to the Japanese courts and left the United States judicial system out of it.

It just boggles the mind how idiotic our patent system really is. @_@

dragon_rider

#68

dragon_rider said:

Another case of douchebag trolls. If he's reading this, I have one thing to say: sod off.
Please don't use profanity at NL, whether in English or any other language. Thank you! — TBD

DaemonSword

#69

DaemonSword said:

Japan's court system turning into dumb tabloid TV like California's (or Ace Attorneys, I guess)? Ugh. "If da 3D fit, you must aquitt!!" O.J. Tomita? Why Japan, why?

CanisWolfred

#71

CanisWolfred said:

You guys are seriously making me question why I ever bother reading news article comments. I'm seeing nothing but petty, juvenile insults all around.

Neram

#72

Neram said:

Well, this patent troll has it made for the rest of his life. He's probably sitting in the bahamas right now sipping a margarita thinking "Hehe, can't believe I'm living the dream all because of some stupid Game Boy. Gotta love the justice system, Muahahaha!"

Before anyone gets offended by that, I don't think the 3DS is a stupid Game Boy.

MasterGraveheart

#74

MasterGraveheart said:

I fully expect an appeal to be coming and I actually expect this to be fully overturned once Nintendo acquires better legal council. They won't let themselves get stuck with this embarrassment.

banacheck

#75

banacheck said:

stole his idea for glasses-free 3D screens and used it on the Nintendo 3DS.

And now you know why Nintendo is so innovative.

Yanchamaru

#77

Yanchamaru said:

Wow, this makes Nintendo look like a bunch of hypocrites. They fight against piracy but they also steal patents to make a profit.

Lopezdm

#78

Lopezdm said:

That suckS, but when you Steal Something you didn't make you deserve What you get. Bad form Nintendo .

Capt_N

#79

Capt_N said:

Yeah, I wonder if they(Nintendo) knew what they were doing, if the plaintiff's actually got a case(I mean, if he's telling the truth)? It could be argued he was just being friendly, & showed them his tech, & they later remembered the idea, & quite possibly, did actually forget the fact(s) of where their idea originated from. This could then be cited as unintentional infringement.

On the other hand, maybe Nintendo did know what they were doing. If that's the case, I have to say that's shameful of them, particularly in light of how last year, & the year prior Iwata publicly took the blame for certain things(I seem to recall one of those things was low share profits, or something). This, if legit, just negates that, in my mind.

Of course, we have no clue if the plaintiff has a legitimate case.

Henmii

#80

Henmii said:

To my knowledge it doesn't happen very often that Nintendo loses a case! It's a big sum of money, but peanuts for Nintendo! However, what will happen with upcoming 3DS devices! Is Nintendo from now on forbidden to implement 3D in their handhelds?!

DreamDrop

#81

DreamDrop said:

This is soooooooooooo dumb, infact the whole world is getting messed up with all these patent rights, what's next? "Hey I had the idea of Strawberry Banana shake first but you stole my idea and made it first? Pay up".

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