Nintendo must pay $15 million to former Sony inventor in 3DS lawsuit

Mario maker to pay Seijiro Tomita half of what he was originally awarded in patent lawsuit; Nintendo plans to appeal.

Nintendo must pay $15.1 million to a former Sony inventor who claimed the company's 3DS infringed on his technology patent, according to a new Bloomberg report.

The $15.1 million is half of the $30.2 million Tomita was awarded when he won his lawsuit against Nintendo in March.

He was given the option this week of accepting the $15.1 million or starting a new trial where he could have lost it all.

Nintendo senior director of corporate communications Charlie Scibetta said the company will appeal the jury's verdict, though no timetable was given for when this may happen.

Tomita's legal representation told jurors during the case that his client showed a prototype of his technology to seven Nintendo officials at the 2003 meeting, four of which would go on to assist in the creation of the 3DS.

Nintendo attorney Scott Lindvall argued that the suit was without merit, claiming the 3DS does not use key aspects of Tomita's patent. He further argued Tomita's 2003 meeting with Nintendo was merely one of many the Mario maker had with merchants selling 3D technology.

Tomita originally sued Nintendo in 2011. He claimed last month that he was entitled to $9.80 for every 3DS sold, meaning the $30.2 million in compensatory damages are just a fraction of what he could be been awarded.

Nintendo has sold nearly 32.5 million 3DS units to date.

Written By

Want the latest news about Animal Crossing: New Leaf?

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Discussion

330 comments
Crouteru
Crouteru

I have no doubt this inventor is entitled by law to this money but it's just pocket change to Nintendo.

BradBurns
BradBurns

This sort of happened with American Mcgee, though no one seems aware of it. Even Mcgee himself has never really mentioned it to my knowledge.

He originally presented the idea of Alice to Disney as a dark take on the classic story and was told his idea was great. Disney seemed very enthusiastic about the whole thing but eventually shelved the idea, and did nothing with it.

A few years ago as Mcgee began working on the sequel for Alice, Disney felt it was the correct time to make the "dark wonderland" movie, only they handed the project  over to Tim Burton. No credit for the project was ever acknowledged for Mcgee or his team.

I feel that this is essentially what happened between Nintendo and Tomita. I don't think that the idea for the project would have really occurred to Nintendo had it not been for Tomita. (I could be wrong, but the courts seem to disagree)


(On a complete side note, I think that Tim Burton's take on Alice was a complete load of crap. It was just plain boring and unimaginative, but it seems to be getting a sequel. So eat up kids)


hatieshorrer
hatieshorrer

I disappointed he didnt get the full amount he deserves.

Meta-Gnostic
Meta-Gnostic

So he went to Nintendo with idea, Nintendo said they were not interested, and then Nintendo used his idea without him. Reminds me of the movie Flash of Genius.

hystavito
hystavito

People always say GS hates and bashes Gamespot, I don't see it.  Most of the more senior staff, the people that present in videos, I don't recall them bashing Nintendo.  In fact, they seem to like Nintendo and often talk about how their games are just great and fun.  They often forgive things like how their sequels are usually very similar to previous ones, or simple graphics, etc.

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

so the 3DS has sold 32 million units at a couple hundred per unit not to mention the licensing fee per game....yeah I don't think 15 million would be that bad of a dent in comparison ESPECIALLY considering how the 3DS is only getting better and better games all the time and selling more and more units every day.  I don't think Nintendo has anything to worry about.

Blazeingdragin
Blazeingdragin

Guess they're really gonna need those top sales now! XD

broly1800
broly1800

R.I.P. 3DS STILL SUCK............................................

poptart28
poptart28

What would Gamespot do if their favorite whipping boy on the block Nintendo, did happen to cease to exist. Who will Eddie and the boys pick on next. Will Gamespot throw a big bash and personally invite all of us to help celebrate Nintendo's demise?

DiverseGamer
DiverseGamer

That dude is so freaking lucky! He'll never have to work again, and he can buy whatever he wants.

Micropixel
Micropixel

Wow, it really amazes me how so many of you don't read the articles and pull conclusions out of thin air based on their titles.

For those of you who don't get it, allow me to shed light on this matter by repeating what's already stated and linked in this very article by GameSpot:

Case at hand is between Seijiro Tomita, a former Sony Inventor, and Nintendo. Sony has NO DIRECT INVOLVEMENT in this case. It is impossible for them to be involved in any way because they: 1) Have no stake/ownership in these patents and 2) Did not/cannot file a complaint (see #1 if you're confused already).

The case went to trial, the jury ruled in favor in Seijiro Tomita and he was awarded $30.2 million dollars.

Personally, I suspect the jury in this case was probably pretty ignorant and had no understanding of how to interpret these patent designs or their inner workings, which is a big disadvantage to Nintendo's defense. However the Court system in this case wasn't so ignorant and here is what followed: 

“The jury’s damages award was at least twice as large as the amount a reasonable jury could have awarded based on the evidence presented at trial and thereby must have involved the degree of excessive speculation that shocks the judicial conscience,” U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said in a decision yesterday.

And let's not forget, Nintendo is being allowed to appeal the ruling (which I'm certain will probably go through with few problems).

Poison-tooth
Poison-tooth

Stealing intellectual properties for commercial uses is probably the worst kind of theft. 

G1ingy
G1ingy

Let's have a raise of hands here! Anyone who  bothered to read further than the headlines say "aye!"

BiohazardXTREME
BiohazardXTREME

Well, good for the guy. No matter how big a company is, Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Apple, need to know that they're not above the law just because they can hire the most expensive lawyers.

GamerofMario1
GamerofMario1

This article leaves out that Nintendo is going to appeal this decision. This is because paying any amount of money would be admitting to stealing Mr. Tomita's invention.

Jecoh
Jecoh

I've come to the conclusion that the majority of people just read the headline, and then post something.

SynchronDuelist
SynchronDuelist

@Crouteru I have many a doubt. Neither this article, nor the article this one sourced shows evidence that Nintendo stole anything. A jury is made of random people, most of whom probably aren't in the legal field. A judge would've probably made a different decision, Nintendo should have requested there just be a judge. The only sort of evidence shown is that they were found guilty by a jury.Which is not definite proof of anything.

lostn
lostn

@Crouteru Well Nintendo has always been run by Scrooge McDuck.

Nightrunner0007
Nightrunner0007

@BradBurns I think your analysis of this is very well thought out, however, I am unclear how you feel about it.  Both of these individuals, had an idea, and they both presented it to Billion Dollar Corporations.  They didn't take the time however, to have either corporation sign any waivers that restricts the use of the individual's  content without his/her consent.  In today's world, that documentation is extremely important when anyone has an idea, because it is really easy for people to pass other's ideas off as their own.  As individuals, we need to cover our own arses when we present "the next big thing," to businesses.  Instead, we generally pitch an idea to a company without even considering the alternatives, and if backstabbing happens, we get upset and try to turn it into a patent war or (insert lawsuit here).  It is ridiculous and it is bad for business...because it kills innovation and new ideas.

Nightrunner0007
Nightrunner0007

@hystavito I don't know which people you're referring to.  I will say that most of the time when Eddie write a column on Ninty, it is negative.  Is he sourcing other information in his article?  Sure, but the information he refers to is always negative, and its only a fact by opinion.  What kills me is many people  read this and say, "Ninty is going bye bye," when in fact, Ninty is doing just fine.  Their project sales of this console are a bit short and if you ask me that is mainly do to their lack of marketing and overconfidence.  Sony made this exact same mistake when they launched the PS3 and it is doing fine now.  Trust me when I say this console will be around for another 3-5 years and will have plenty of titles that will make it worth owning, even if you hate Nintendo.

BradBurns
BradBurns

@Jedilink109 

I don't think that Nintendo would even feel a $15 million dollar loss. They have Billions in the bank, if I'm not mistaken.

The problem is that if they did use Mr. Tomato's, excuse me, Mr Tomita's ideas and profitted from them wildly, then they owe him some compensation.

 The courts seemed to have agreed that they did, so he's gettin' paid the big bucks.

ArabrockermanX
ArabrockermanX

@poptart28 I don't think they pick on Nintendo in particular they do however ignore many negative stories about MS... MS has to do some pretty shitty stuff before they get any negative attention. Sony and Nintendo aren't that influential.

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

@poptart28 How are they picking on Nintendo in this story?  They're just saying here's what happened with this news story...

There are no opinions in that article only reporting of facts.

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

@ominous_prime It might be how much his pantented thingy would cost to implement in each unit possibly.  But he's almost guaranteed to be inflating the amount.  Someone suing someone else always does.

SynchronDuelist
SynchronDuelist

@G1ingy Aye. I  don't think Nintendo owes this guy anything. Neither of these articles show evidence that Nintendo stole anything. A jury isn't made up of a bunch of expert lawyers. A jury is just random people chosen. Even if there is no correlation between what Nintendo used and what this guy proposed, he has a bigger chance of winning with a jury .

hatieshorrer
hatieshorrer

@GamerofMario1  

Worst thing is people would expect this from Sony and MS but when its Nintendo its like "Really Nintendo's supposed to be the honest guys."

Nightrunner0007
Nightrunner0007

@GamerofMario1 Nintendo basically dropped the ball on this "itch" because they probably didn't take this guy seriously when he first approached them like any big billion dollar corporation.  Now he has their attention, and hopefully it doesn't backfire on him....

GamerofMario1
GamerofMario1

@Jecoh That is why "Sony inventor" is in the title; to get Sony fanboys to look at the page and leave a comment, and get some extra hits.

BradBurns
BradBurns

@Nightrunner0007 @BradBurns

Well, in specific scenarios like Mcgee's I'm not certain that there was much he could have done.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not sure you can patent/copyright such a broad ideas. 

He wasn't completely ripped off  like Mr. Tomita but Disney's premise was all too similar to his own (Mcgee's vision was infinitely more clever, imaginative and creative in my opinion), and it is actually well documented that he did meet with them prior to the whole Tim Burton project. 

I'm not certain if Mcgee does hold a copyright to the franchise and if so, he actually can sue Disney if he so chooses. I think he's afraid that Disney will stomp him in the court rooms (or bankrupt him).


However, you made a great point. When presenting an idea to a corporation, always make sure you have all of your 'i's dotted and your 't's crossed.

The problem is that I don't think there is much an individual can do, save for what Mr. Tomita did, in our current system. In Mcgee's case, I think he actually can sue as well but is too afraid of losing and winding up in massive debt (a real risk you take when suing).  Legally, I think he has enough proof to make the case, but perhaps not enough to win. 

I'm not completely sure that it kills innovations, I feel that it makes it so that innovation can happen but with most of the credit and money funneled to the wealthy as per usual.

Nightrunner0007
Nightrunner0007

@BradBurns I don't feel they owe him anything, he should have come forward when the 3ds launched first of all.  Second of all, he obviously didn't have them sign any documentation that stated they couldn't build this tech with their own money.  This is another annoying lawsuit over patents.  Think about it, at this point in life, it is very difficult to invent something that hasn't already been invented before.  I'm sure every piece of tech that we have seen the last 10 years has just been old ideas with a decent budget thrown at them.  If these patent wars keep up, companies will eventually thrive off of suing each other  and the consumers (us) won't really be the ones any longer who control how much they make off their products.  

Albelnox0
Albelnox0

@soulless4now @broly1800 Library wise for kids. so Yes I guess cooking momma is very fun

Nightrunner0007
Nightrunner0007

@BradBurns I don't disagree with you, however, my stance on this is every man for himself because that is the world we live in.  If you come up with a product that introduces an entirely new element, it shouldn't be a mystery that people are going to want to try it out.  That said, there are many ways to protect your ideas and I find a hard time feeling sympathy for those that don't.

Also, Nintendo is going to appeal this lawsuit...so hopefully Mr. Tomita doesn't get stomped in the courtroom.  

Nightrunner0007
Nightrunner0007

@BradBurns I agree, and I am all for the little guy when something like this happens.  I just find it hard to feel sympathy for someone who really thinks a billion dollar corp is going to, in good faith, not rip him/her off.  Every corporation like Nintendo got to where they were by making some angry.  The entire industry is polluted with people who have back-stabbed one another, it's a part of the game.  Its unfortunate yes, but that is the way it is. 

BradBurns
BradBurns

@Nightrunner0007 

Well, I'm not certain that they have to ask for his permission for anything, because according to the suits over at Nintendo's corporate branch, their tech isn't based on his. 

They claim that they came up with it on their own completely. 

According to him, he was the one who came up with the idea, presented it to them and was rejected. Only to later find out that the next console they launched looked exactly like his earlier demonstration. 

He seems to actually have good proof for his claims. You have to remember that companies as rich as Nintendo have great lawyers and defeating them in court is no easy feat.

Nightrunner0007
Nightrunner0007

Yeah, I'm not really sure what you're getting at with your comment though...

soulless4now
soulless4now

@Albelnox0 You clearly have not played a Nintendo handheld if you think all they have is Cooking Mama. Nintendo handhelds have always had the superior software on their systems. 

There's a reason why the DS sold over 100 million units and it definitely wasn't because of Cooking Mama. 

Nightrunner0007
Nightrunner0007

The sooner people like yourself get away from these stupid stereotypical kid comments, the sooner people like yourself will start appreciating a good game.  It is a game, play it for enjoyment and try not to judge it by what audience it appeals most to.  People like you kill me with your, "oh its for kids" comments...who cares?!  If its fun and addicting, that should be what counts.