News Article

Nintendo Responds To Guilty Verdict In 3D Patent Case

Posted by Damien McFerran

"Nintendo is confident that the result will be set aside"

Nintendo has responded to the guilty verdict issued in its case against former Sony inventor Seijiro Tomita, who won $30.2 million in damages after insisting that Nintendo stole his idea for 3D display technology.

The statement reads as follows:

A jury awarded $30.2 million in damages to Tomita Technologies in a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Tomita against Nintendo. The Tomita patent did not relate to the 3D games playable on the Nintendo 3DS. The trial was held in U.S. District Court in New York before Judge Jed Rakoff.

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.

[via nintendoeverything.com]

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User Comments (47)

Zyph

#2

Zyph said:

I hope it'll settle soon in favor of Nintendo. They already got a mountain of problems as it is.

FullbringIchigo

#4

FullbringIchigo said:

these "patent trolls" are getting ridiculous how long until someone sues over a patent like the shape of something.......oh wait apple already did that to samsung about the shape of the galaxy note

Ren

#5

Ren said:

um, case is closed people. read the text. nintendo lost and settled, this is a response to the verdict, it'll be dead news in a week. It's a patent troll with a legitimate claim here. Too bad for them but it won't hurt much, the 3DS is selling like hotcakes, it's the WiiU thats hurting. I can't wait till Nintendo stops with the lame hardware and sticks to games.
Theres a lot of potential for 3D games and hardware
If they officially stopped with the consoles and focus on handhelds I think they'd be a lot better off. Why not just make an entirely portable "console" with goggles or something, and ditch the home entertainment? It's time for some real next gen stuff, stop trying to compete with the living room brick. Nintendo has only been successful with consoles by diving on risky innovation and those gambles are getting too costly to miss a single one.
Anyway, on topic there will always be big patent grabs, it's just part of big product releases now, it's not that big a deal. If you had a similar small product and Nintendo released a huge product with the same tech you'd sue too.

KeeperBvK

#6

KeeperBvK said:

The ridiculous thing is how fanboys keep insulting people like Tomita. He is right, Nintendo is not. Deal with it. He has made an invention, which Nintendo used afterwards without paying for it. Now hoping for Nintendo to win the case (although they've already lost) or calling the guy a troll is nothing but demeaning and narrow-minded.
As for the "sueing over a shape"-thing. Why would that be ridiculous? If somebody copied the form of a Nintendo controller, I'm sure a lot of people here would hope for Nintendo to sue them...
And Nintendo had already sued companies for using a cross-shaped D-pad, for which Nintendo used to hold the rights. But I guess, when Nintendo does something along these lines, it's perfectly fine by some people's double-standards.

triforcepower73

#7

triforcepower73 said:

They have taken previous ideas a lot of times and made them better, while not copying the idea's inventor. But this is completely different.

GameLord08

#8

GameLord08 said:

@KeeperBvK: I agree with you on the whole fan-boy issue, definitely. However to me, the thing is at face-value, we really haven't heard enough to conclude whether or not Tomita's patent in particular really was infringed.

Glasses-free 3D isn't exactly the most original idea out there, but the technology used in each patent for the idea is what makes each distinct - and with Nintendo claiming that they had other firms approach them with the same general idea of glasses-free 3D, this might just be an ambiguous case. They can't exactly rip apart the 3DS in court to prove their innocence, so unless another one of these firms that allegedly provided Nintendo with other similar ideas for the 3DS steps forward, it's sort of a grey area.

Also personally, I find the whole "suing over shape" thing between Apple and Samsung a bit ridiculous too - let's face it, a rounded rectangle isn't exactly something you can lay claim over. Especially for a phone. But something like the D-pad is somewhat distinctive, so it's understandable for a conflict to arise when it's replicated elsewhere.

I dunno, just my two pennies.

Burning_Spear

#9

Burning_Spear said:

This is like a traffic ticket for Nintendo.For us, it's like a traffic accident — check it out and move on.

LordGeovanni

#10

LordGeovanni said:

Everyone, keep in mind the level that these "patent trolls" will go. It is not just the "Shape of a phone" that gets people in trouble. There was actually a case where someone (I forget who) sued over "Apps being square with rounded corners". Seriously. Not just the phone being rounded-corner, but the App Icons too!

There are two real types of patents: The first is an actual product. A specific game for example - Pac Man. It is usually fairly clear if someone violates the patent. Character being chased in a maze? Check. Collecting all the dots in the maze? Check. Food for bonus points? Check. Therefore, Pac Man game.

The second type of patent is the most insidious one. Mere "idea". I have an idea! How about a game where the main character needs to go around and free babies from cages where an evil character is imprisoning them.
-What is that? It has been done before? Oh! right, Spyro 2. How about a game where the player removes squared from a picture to make an image? Oh. Right. Picross... But MY game requires a minigame to remove each square! Even still, patent infringement. Even before you think of the fact that Picross has already done that "minigame to remove" idea.

It is almost IMPOSSIBLE to make an "original" idea anymore. Especially when someone will go out of their way to "prove" how "evil" you are for copying their idea. Even when they came up with it before the technology even existed. And they did nothing to actually MAKE the technology. Just think if someone patented something like concrete. Or swords. Let us see the Middle Ages without swords. Or you know, ANY RPG because swords are a common weapon...

Araknie

#11

Araknie said:

LOL there is proof of Nintendo buying the patent from Sharp and reimaging to avoid having the 3D Glasses in.
There is a whole Iwata Asks about that.

This is stupid.

LordGeovanni

#12

LordGeovanni said:

@Ren Reread the message if you need to, Nintendo did not "Lose and settle". A jury found Nintendo in violation of the patent and claimed that the damages amounted to 30.2 million US dollars. That doesn't actually mean that Nintendo is going to pay. In fact "Nintendo is confident that the result will be set aside.", which means that they will challenge that judgement.

Gameday

#15

Gameday said:

Every year every cycle same bull. Fools always trying to get paid for something...

TobieOBrown

#16

TobieOBrown said:

To those who don't seem to grasp what has happened:

Tomita did/does not have a "blanket patent" for glasses-free 3D tech. There are many ways to achieve glasses-free 3D, but Nintendo used exactly his method for the 3DS. Tomita actually sells and licenses his method to other companies who pay him for it; Nintendo circumnavigated this and is now being told that they owe Tomita money.

The system is working as it should. This guy is not a troll.

nastobi123

#17

nastobi123 said:

To TobieOBrown do you even have sources to prove that Nintendo, not the company they invested to, copied Tomita's tech... ?

GameLord08

#19

GameLord08 said:

@TobieOBrown: No, it's currently unclear whether or not they used his particular technology. Other companies were stated to have approached Nintendo with other technical methods to achieve glasses-free 3D.

JSuede

#20

JSuede said:

@neumaus @TobieOBrown @KeeperBvK He is not a "patent troll" in the sense that he patented something similar with the hopes of suing......but he is in the wrong here.

His patent uses a set of cameras that determine the distance of the viewer, and then the image is rendered accordingly. This allows the viewer to have the best possible 3D at all times....no "sweet spot"

The 3DS (See: Sharp's 3D tech) uses a pair of screens that render the image differently to produce the 3D effect. Everyone knows there is a "sweet spot" and if you move it too far away or too close, it loses the 3D effect.

The concept is similar, but the execution and tech behind it is different. Nintendo does NOT use "exactly the same method" to produce the glasses free 3D, claiming so is just preposterous.

It's like if Sony were to sue MS over Kinect providing "controller free motion sensing gameplay" simply because they both use a camera. He doesn't deserve a dime.

Bliquid

#21

Bliquid said:

@LordGeovanni: you should reread it instead.
That phrase means that Nintendo wants ppl to move on and stop talking about it because if the masses start thinking that Nintendo steals other's ideas it could be bad reputation.
Court has decided.

Haxonberik

#22

Haxonberik said:

A patent troll wins this time hmm. I hope the money lost doesnt result in much of a problem for Nintendos financial results.

neumaus

#23

neumaus said:

@JSuede How can you say that when you weren't in court and do not have access to all the documentations and evidence? You're only assuming.

retro_player_22

#24

retro_player_22 said:

@Haxonberik
That's no problem to Nintendo, they could easily win back those millions with Pokemon X & Y coming out later this year. We'll probably never hear from this patent troll ever again after this.

neumaus

#26

neumaus said:

@JSuede Yes, but I'm sure that's not the only evidence presented at court. There is bound to be more that their lawyers had that we'll never know of.
THAT'S what I'm talking about.
Until you can get all the evidence presented at court, sift through it, and hear all the testimonies then you can't say with 100% certainty that he didn't deserve a dime.

-Crystalline-

#27

-Crystalline- said:

@Ren Completely agree, Ren. They should start focusing on game development. More specifically, new additions to their strongest franchises. I'd also like to see some of the classic GBC titles hitting the Virtual Console/EShop soon.

Jukilum

#28

Jukilum said:

@neumaus But that specific patent is what was in question, so if Nintendo didn't use it I can't see how they could be guilty. Nevertheless, it is true that I don't know all of the details. I believe I may have the resources to find out though; my grandpa is a lawyer.

BakaKnight

#30

BakaKnight said:

At the risk to sound "fanboysh", but all this story didn't damage even slightly my trust for the big N and can't wait for the next time it will surprise me as only Nintendo can do ^O^

Melkaticox

#31

Melkaticox said:

$30 million is not much for Nintendo, being completely honest. When they sell 1 million (more) 3DSs, they will get the money back.

DarkKirby

#32

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.

JohniePizzapies

#33

JohniePizzapies said:

@DarkKirby There is nothing that can be done in this case to disallow a jury. The Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution grants a plaintiff a right to a jury trial in all suits at common-law that seek more than $20 in damages. The Court does not have the authority to force a bench trial.

Also, in a civil context a party is found liable, not guilty. Generally, the phrase guilty is used when someone is convicted of a criminal offense. Liable is used when a defendant loses a civil suit and has to pay damages.

ianmage1

#34

ianmage1 said:

This wouldn't affect Nintendo financially, but I don't want Tomita to get away with a false accusation like this. Stupid patent troll...

Ernest_The_Crab

#35

Ernest_The_Crab said:

You guys really aren't thinking if if you believe losing ONE case ends something like this. US like any other developed country has multiple levels for which something can be appealed for. This sounds more like the lowest level in the process.

A quick look through a Google search will show you that Nintendo has a tendency to win in the appeals.

Sir_Deadly

#36

Sir_Deadly said:

@neumaus But that one difference they can see were he didnt use EXACTLY the same patent. I am pretty sure that is what JSuede was trying to point out. Meaning the claim isnt as he claims lol. Tomita I think is claiming everything Nintendo has used is the exact copy.

k8sMum

#38

k8sMum said:

@ianmage1
how do you know that the claim is false? what can you back that statement up with? what inside info are you privy to?

please do share your expertise. expertise that the jury and judge is apparently lacking according to the majority of posts here.

LordGeovanni

#39

LordGeovanni said:

@Bliquid You really need to answer two questions for me:

First, do you live in the US? I do.
Second, do you actually follow Court Cases (of the US), AND researched the cases and courts extensively for the purpose of actually making that into your 40+ year job?

In the US, the courts are situated in a way that you can appeal the Jury's results. Additionally, at ANY time, the judge can find fault with the Jury's decision and overrule it. When the judge overrules the Jury's decision, it is called "having the Jury's decision (and/or "ruling") be set aside" This means that Nintendo is Actively requesting the Judge to overrule the Jury's decision. If that fails, they will then Appeal the case and request a higher court to hear the case.

There is NO chance that Nintendo is going to allow someone to make up a patent-case that they will pay for without fighting until the bitter end. If they did, there would be patent-trolls swarming them until they spend more money on the cases than they do on their games.

gundam00

#40

gundam00 said:

Jurys should not be used in patent lawsuits. Jury participants have no knowledge of patent law or how patents operate, and no one with knowledge of patents are allowed to jury anyway. Jurys were derived in the medieval ages to assess the credibility of the witness in criminal cases. Jurys are useful in criminal cases, but have no place in patent cases.

The lawyers in patent cases try to emotionalize the case so the jury can relate to it better. The jury isn't supposed to know anything about patents to keep their peer-influence as unbiased. However, patent law is based on having knowledge of prior art and what is claimed and what isn't claimed. You have to have knowledge of the patent system in order to make an informed decision.

I work in patent law. So many clients think they can patent something which has already been patented. And I work with them to help mold their idea into something that is patentable. You need to be knowledgeable about patents, in order to make an informed decision whether something is patentable or not patentable, and whether something is infringing or not infringing. That's why jurys should not be used in patent lawsuits.

imsmiley698

#41

imsmiley698 said:

ehh he's from sony he has enough money as it is. why sue over it like I get they stole ¨ your idea¨ but come on. But in the article it did say that nintendo came up with the idea of 3d games, anyway I think think it's 50/50.

DaveC

#42

DaveC said:

Juries are not made up of the most technically inclined. They make dumb decisions all of the time. That patent wasn't the same thing, and this patent troll deserves nothing.

TobieOBrown

#43

TobieOBrown said:

Oh my god guys, do you really think they just blew up a blueprint for a jury to look at? The jury's role in a patent infringement case is to decide questions of fact — in other words, to interpret claims. Is the product viable? Was the product sold without consent? Was the patent valid?

Every patent requires a thorough, written description. Nintendo used tech explicitly outlined in Tomita's patent. You don't have to be a 3D screen expert to compare a couple paragraphs.

Read this: http://www.oblon.com/sites/default/files/news/256.pdf

If you can't understand it, then stop posting about it.

LordGeovanni

#44

LordGeovanni said:

I actually agree that Juries (of your/our peers) should not be evaluating the decisions of patent cases. In truth, is there a specific of "Jury of your peers" for such cases? Could it instead be a Jury of qualified individuals? I do not know if the US would be willing to make that change, however I think I would support it...

Yulo303

#45

Yulo303 said:

What'll happen in the trial:
Nintendo's lawyer: Objection! Your honor, the current statement directly contradicts with this piece of evidence!
Judge: It does? I don't see why.
Nintendo's lawyer: It doesn't? But I thought...
Judge:(nod) Please think through before making accusations. I'm afraid I'll have to penalize you.
(nintendo's lawyer : ugh I must be on the wrong track?)
until he runs out of !'s and loses! XDDD

TobieOBrown

#46

TobieOBrown said:

@LordGeovanni Juries are representative of the American people — because they ARE the American people (and any country that uses a jury uses it for this reason as well). They're literally the only thing preventing the government from completely owning its citizens in the court of law. The entire idea of using a jury is so that the decision can be as impartial as possible; at the very least you'll have a diverse pool of thought and observation. Obviously that means if any of you fanboys were selected you'd have your vote, too. It's fair, get over it.

Either way, Nintendo used Tomita's tech. So they lose.

LordGeovanni

#47

LordGeovanni said:

@TobieOBrown First of all, you didn't really answer my question. It just seems like you wanted to bad-talk me a bit. Second, I was actually specifically trying to reference the actual laws and terms regarding patent cases. If the "Trial by jury" is held, it needs to reference if it must be a "trial by a jury of their peers". If it does not specify, either side (or both) could specifically request a jury made up of qualified individuals. Because it sounds like the US has "patent jury trials" and the rest of the world does not, there would be little interest for Nintendo to see this trial through the US courts. That would specify that Tomita wants it through the US courts. Possibly for this exact reason - the "protection" of the patent holder. (Great Britian has similar court cases regarding slander on the internet. People actually go to Great Britian for the purpose of suing other people - even people in their own country.) Now, with that said, if the "Jury" does not specify "of their peers", then Nintendo could specifically request jury members that are knowledgeable in patents and/or technology development. That is explained more in my next paragraph. If Nintendo was able to request such, they would probably still win the case. Most likely, Nintendo would get a small penalty for treading upon Tomita's patent in an unintended manner. (This is not to say that Nintendo might not still get the same fee. That is a "small" amount for such a ruling.)

The biggest issue of patents (as I have already stated) is that they are too arbitrary. Tomita's patent uses several camera that then focus on the person and distance of the person to then render the 3D image on the screen. Nintendo's patent Does Not. How would Tomita's patent be in violation? Only by stretching the patent through a court case. With the two types of "patent" that I was specifying before, This would fall under the "idea" part. (Most likely, Nintendo did not actually copy the specs of the patent, you see). The "idea" that cameras used to render a 3D image is that patent "idea". Nintendo did not violate that. Tomita's patent was then stretched into "3D rendering", NOT 3D rendering by use of several cameras for the purpose of identifying distance of the user".

That last part (patent stretching) is the part that I am most upset about. That is PRECISELY the issue with "patent-trolls". And the other issue is the requirement of "prior knowledge". This specifies that Nintendo had to have knowledge of another's idea and the possibility that that same idea was patented. This was brought up and shown in the court when Tomita specified that the developers that he showed his idea years ago were the same people that developed the 3D rendering of the 3DS. The flaw in this part of the patent is that people end up developing ideas based on what they have experienced in their life. For example, if you have no knowledge of explosions, you could not develop gunpowder. You would not even be able to conceive the idea. Keeping with the concept, Tomita's patent would be similar to the idea of pouring gunpowder into the barrel of a gun like what was done prior to shell casings. (Other 3D patents could be something like the use of TNT for example). Nintendo then developed an idea based on life experiences - keep in mind that the developers saw several different 3D techs and that it was years prior that they saw the several ideas before the 3DS was created. If Tomita's patent is the loose gunpowder bullet-shot, then Nintendo made something like the shell casing. A bullet, gunpowder, and ignition all bound together in a new way. However Tomita's patent (loose powder) was stretched into a new shape (gunpowder inside a container) for the reason to get Tomita money and for Nintendo to get bad press. This is actually the most common issue with US patents (and court cases - specifically US Patent JURY cases).

With all this in mind, I am actually not "fanboys(ing)" for Nintendo only. It comes down to three parts:
1. If Nintendo was at fault, there should be no patent recognized for the 3D tech in the 3DS. With that, Nintendo is in complete fault.
2. If there is a patent for Nintendo's 3D tech in the 3DS, then:
2a. ...either the US patent office made a mistake and issued two patents for the same thing (Nintendo's and Tomita's 3D tech) and (the US Patent Office) is therefore at fault and Nintendo does not have to pay...
2b. ...or the Patent for either Nintendo's or Tomita's tech was made outside the US. At that time there is a multi-country issue over the creations of patents and the second patent (probably Nintendo's) would be voided only because it infringes on another patent. THEN the country that made the second patent (again, probably Nintendo's, however possibly Tomita's depending on who filed first and at which office/where...), would get penalized for not researching properly before releasing a patent. THEN Nintendo would get investigated (and Tomita could sue again, or sue to force the investigation) to discover if Nintendo techs and/or CEO/top execs were aware of Tomita's patent when they filed up to and or including immediately prior to the patent getting accepted. If they were aware, then Nintendo would be at fault, if they were not, then they would be free of wrong-doing).

And the idea of me getting tried by a jury of my peers worries me. I want people that are actually capable of understanding the issue to be judging me. Not 12 random people from the city that do not even know how their refrigerator works. (This, of course, is not specifically saying that I want rich people on my jury, but that I want knowledgeable people on my jury.)

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