Former Sony engineer sues Nintendo for $9.80 of every 3DS sold

By on February 28, 2013, 4:30 PM

A Manhattan district court jury heard opening arguments on Monday about a 2011 patent infringement complaint filed by a former Sony engineer against Nintendo over the 3DS' display technology. Seijiro Tomita, a 30-year Sony veteran who retired in 2002 to create his own inventions, claims he met with Nintendo in 2003 to show the company his solution for displaying 3D visuals without requiring glasses.

Tomita alleges that he demonstrated the then patent-pending technology for seven Nintendo workers and four of them went on to help make the 3DS. The US granted Tomita's patent in 2008, years before the 3DS' March 2011 launch, and he believes Nintendo is using his idea without permission. To right that wrong, he wants a pile of cash -- specifically, $9.80 for every 3DS that has been and will be sold.

As of December 31, 2012, Nintendo has sold 29.84 million units worldwide. Assuming Tomita's request is awarded, he could be looking at a payment well into the hundreds of millions, but Nintendo isn't opening its coin purse without a fight. The company insists that its device doesn't use "cross-point" information, a core part of Tomita's patent that helps show 3D images across multiple displays.

What's more, Nintendo said Tomita was far from the only person or vendor to show the company 3D display technology. "Mr. Tomita's meeting was one of hundreds," Nintedo's attorney Scott Lindvall said. In fact, it was noted that the game maker held four meetings about 3D technology before even speaking with Tomita, including one in 2002 with Sharp, which now produces the 3DS' display.

User Comments: 5

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2 people like this | Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

If Tomita's claim is valid, I hope he gets what is owed to him. This doesn't seem like the usual patent trolling case, and I generally root for the little guy in instances like this anyway.

Tygerstrike said:

Given that Nintendo is a Japanese company, I wouldnt be surprised if they did "steal" his idea. Four of the people that his invention was demonstarted to ended up on the dev team for it. That right there looks like his claims MIGHT be true. I had really hoped that Nintendo had moved away from the slightly shady business practices that they had been accussed of in the 1990's.

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

The display in the 3DS is sourced from Sharp, so Nintendo shouldn't have to defend itself from this lawsuit. Sharp would theoretically have to indemnify Nintendo against patent trolls like this. It's also not the first time this display tech has been used in consumer electronics, so it would be interesting to see what the basis of this claim is.

Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Well I did not look into this but why are you defending them on the grounds that Sharp manufacturers the display?

Sony very well may may have designed it and Sharp just manufacturers it to their specifications...

veLa veLa said:

Man I hope he wins some money at least.

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