Nintendo sued over 3DS tech

Tomita Technologies takes handheld maker to court alleging infringement on 2003 patent for glasses-free stereoscopic 3D tech.

It's not uncommon for gaming companies to see their latest technological innovations made into the subject of lawsuits. The motion-sensing Wii Remote, weight-sensing Balance Board, rumbling controllers, and PlayStation 3 Blu-ray format were all the subject of patent suits, and now the 3DS's glasses-free stereoscopic 3D screen can be added to the list.

According to the suit, fully half of the screens in the 3DS infringe on Tomita's patent.

As spotted by Patent Arcade, Japanese corporation Tomita Technologies last month filed suit against Nintendo in the Southern District of New York, alleging that the 3DS infringed on a patent it holds for a "Stereoscopic Image Picking Up and Display System Based Upon Optical Axes Cross-Point Information." Tomita's patent was filed in March of 2003, with the inventor listed as Seijiro Tomita.

The patent specifically notes that it could be used for a device that required no specific glasses, and it details how it could alternate between images directed at the left and right eyes independently, "so that the merged image can be viewed as a stereoscopic image by the three-dimensional perception based upon so-called binocular parallax."

According to the suit, Tomita was a Sony employee for nearly three decades before leaving in 2002 to work on fields of his own interest. It also notes that Tomita's patent has been licensed by other parties due to its "importance and uniqueness."

Tomita is asking the court to enjoin Nintendo from infringing on the patent, as well as damages and attorneys' fees. As of press time, Nintendo had not responded to a request for comment.

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308 comments
varunvikram1
varunvikram1

I guess this is how companies like Tomito makes money.

granasaberx
granasaberx

From the way this sounds, it doesn't sound frivolous. Too much detail is given within the patent that begs a differ if Nintendo actually did any research on existing patents. I understand that many people file lawsuits in order to make quick bucks, but if I thought up the idea and somebody else decided to use it without my knowledge, I'd probably sue too (like most people on this board would).

Spahettificator
Spahettificator

@BlueFlameBat @smoke_dog_4ever Have you read the article? It contains extracts from Tomita's patent which clearly shows that it isn't "vague". He had thought it through and come up with a method of creating a 3D screen which doesn't need glasses. Then a big multi-national corporation comes along and uses the technology he came up with without purchasing the licence to do so.

jm3811
jm3811

Luckily for them, Nintendo haven't released a game called "Modern Warfare 3DS" because Activision would be on their backs.

DanGleeSack
DanGleeSack

sounds like a money grab to me... frivolous law suits should be thrown out immediately. I have a neighbor who was sued (along with many others) by a crazy b***h for fake or unreasonable reasons. One such reason was that the woman was stealing my neighbors land. The women didn't hire a layer, choosing to represent herself, while the defense wasted a huge amount of money in law fees. The same thing goes with doctors, do you know how much they have to pay for legal insurance and legal staff? it is more than most people make in their lives, and we wonder why health care is so expensive. Yes, reasonable lawsuits should be heard, but if you burned your hand on FRESH HOT coffee from McDonalds its your own damn fault.

smoke_dog_4ever
smoke_dog_4ever

I think that's exactly what it is. I think the idea that people are able to file these vague patents and then later sue people for infringement is absurd. The number of vague patents that have been "infringed" upon in the past year or two is retarded. I don't think this should be allowed to happen, but with OUR judicial system... meh.

BlueFlameBat
BlueFlameBat

If, however, Nintendo did check to make sure they weren't violating any patents and couldn't find any conflicts, the patent office is to blame. In the end, though, I wouldn't be surprised if this is another case of a company filing a vague patent with the intention of sitting on it until they find someone to sue.

JohnF111
JohnF111

With the 3D tech being used i'd be saying "Take it Nintendo, have it... I don't want that rubbish!".

King9999
King9999

When was the last time Nintendo lost a lawsuit? They haven't lost, to my knowledge.

Vaithan
Vaithan

Isn't everyone suing everyone these days? And people wonder why inventors (good ones) stay hidden. The thing that gets me is Nintendo actually did something with the tech. This Tomita guy has done nothing with it for 8 years. Why should Nintendo be sued for giving the public new toys to play with.

Toysoldier34
Toysoldier34

Waits till product becomes popular, then decide to file lawsuit... The 3DS has been known for a long time and they just wait.

videun
videun

I don't think a Sony employee would go that far to court for the 3DS if the 3DS doesn't really hurt your eyes.

videun
videun

There's a 95.0% chance of having Nintendo being sued.The other percent is Nintendo not getting sued.

videun
videun

Nintendo is a failure after the 3DS. This had Sony and Microsoft have a great success.

videun
videun

I have a friend that played it and the screen is blurry for him and he had to get eye glasses because of the 3DS. Nintendo is not as smart as Sony because Sony isn't wasting ideas every year like Nintendo.Now Nintendo is running out of ideas.I have a DSi and my family has a WII which I could play on too.

BlueFlameBat
BlueFlameBat

Nintendo should have asked the patent office if their new system would violate any patents.

NightDrifter05
NightDrifter05

zaxafreon It's simple actually. They couldn't get as big of a lump sum as they will now. Since the console is out if they win the suit Nintendo has to pay for the use of it, has to pay for each handheld already sold, and will have to pay for each handheld that will sell. It's just a case of Tomita waiting to see how big it was going to be before he decided to put all the money into a team of lawyers to fight it. It wouldn't be worth paying the millions of dollars to go through with a lawsuit if the 3DS didn't sell that good.

zaxafreon
zaxafreon

The 3ds has been out for a while now, and we also knew the technolgy it was using before it was released so why then have taken so long to take them to court.

hitechgraphs
hitechgraphs

Nintendo,Nintendo,Nintendo,the only news that people got from you is from a lawsuit ,How positive that could be? What about a fusion with a bigger company like was Midway ,now Netherealm with WB?That could definitively help you out a lot.

EdibleFood
EdibleFood

@nocoverart Or the first year! I still have literally nothing to play on my 3ds, Ocarina of Time is a re-release and so is Starfox which is coming out kind of soon... The first good new game isn't coming until december, nearly a year after the launch of the system... I feel like the games nintendo is saying will be released "holiday 2011" could be pushed back even further, i wouldn't be too surprissed if a few of them, like Mario Kart, release on time so they can sell bucketloads while the other ones get pushed back again. Mario Kart ds is still selling very well and it was released in 06, i think its guaranteed that it will be released in 2011 at least.

ztg360
ztg360

You all do realize nintendo doesn't care about this right? they are a multibillion dollar company so this is kinda like shooting a tank with a bb gun. the most it will do is make a tiny little "dink" sound and thats about it

DarkReign2552
DarkReign2552

I understand this is common practice in the business world, but it's still ridiculous how many lawsuits their are in the average year. People are just sue happy. They see an opportunity to make money without actually doing any real work for themselves and they take it. If I had the money, I have dozens of unique ideas that I could easily have patented. I'm sure most of them will be worth something in the future, but I'm sure I'm not the only person in the world with this idea. If somebody else with this idea beats me to its realization, why should I get money out of it? Unless this person literally steals my idea for himself, there's nothing I should be able to do about it. Nintendo didn't ask this man what his idea was and go create. Nintendo look at 3D technology on the rise, decided they wanted it without glasses, and made it happen whatever way they could. The original owner of the patent definitely wasn't the only person to ever come up with an idea this obvious anyway.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

@_Silent_Jay_ Well, to be fair and honest: It would not be the first time a company deliverately "borrows" from a smaller company spectin them to be unable to sue then (Capcom and Xplosion are good examples).

Eric_VA
Eric_VA

@KelpsterD you know people make things for years on top of years, if i make a screen that gives you 4-D i'm not going to release it the next month or even say anything about it. its going to take a few months/years to get everything just right @Dynamo321 please make a better analogy....you kinda lost me when you said something about TV and someone stealing it....

cubachino
cubachino

Sounds fishy to me. A former Sony employee suing Nintendo?! I was under the impression that the 3DS screen is Sharp technology.

tachsniper
tachsniper

@karloss01 take a business class my friend, a basic rule is, Person A has a good idea but not the resources to produce it, Person B has the resources but lacks a good idea. person A sells person B the use of his idea. its how most of our giant corporations get formed.

Spahettificator
Spahettificator

@karloss01 Tomita is using his patent. He is selling the licence to use the technology to companies who want to manufacture glasses free 3D screens. He may not be physically manufacturing it but it cannot be said he is not using it. Please remember that his business is not a massive global corporation. They do not have the resources to mass produce this kind of tech.

DARKNESSxEAGLE
DARKNESSxEAGLE

Looks like Tomita and a few of his friends are looking at these comments; who else would be disliking things like: "Everyone feels the need to sue if there's money being made

SolanOcard
SolanOcard

@CHROMEFLAMIN: Wishful thinking, maybe. The higher price-point and lack of top tier games in the launch line-up clearly means it would not sell as well as the DS did when it was released. HOWEVER Mario, Zelda, maybe a Supersmash brothers, are all around the corner and will drive sales. In 7 years, the DS and iterations sold something like 140M units. If the 3DS sells only 100M in the same time period, does that make it a failure? ABSOLUTELY NOT. IF they were smart, they would announce that the 3DS will work as a second controller pad for the Wii U with the same functionality... if they didn't consider making it function that way, they might just be idiots after all.

karloss01
karloss01

people shouldn't be allowed to patent stuff they aren't going to use. these sort of people sicken me, those that just sit in a room patenting everything they think of to then wait 5-10 years when some business makes a cash cow with a technology simmilar to the patent just to throw a lawsuit at them. i would throw these cases out and have the patenters(?) pay for all the legal fees.

steveguttenberg
steveguttenberg

Frivoulous lawsuits aren't as common as you might think. Do a little research before commenting. Watch a documentary called "Hot Coffee." Or look up "tort deform."

Yuck_Too
Yuck_Too

it's only going to get worse when the US changes patent law...once they do that you patent the idea...regardless of if it's currently feasabole or not...and should anyone make that idea work down the road...they owe you rights. Watch for it...everyone will flock to patnt the concept and block others from using it. Take the old HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray example...all that would need to happen is someone patent the "idea" now and that's that. You'l have divisions of companies who do nothing but sit around thinking up what to secure next in the hopes of cashing in later in life and it will block anyone esle from being productive.

kenmanius
kenmanius

The first company I heard of to do this was Phillips. It was on tv. They said they made a display that could render any 2d image in 3d without the use of glasses. I figured they would have put one out by now or sold the tech to everyone and got super rich. Don't know what the story with that is now.

steven141
steven141

Im sick of reading about patent suits, you cant do anything nowadays without infringing on someone else

nocoverart
nocoverart

They should of been sued for the launch line-up alone! Never mind this.

Zerabp
Zerabp

Let me explain why Sharp is not the one to sue and Why Nintendo is the one to be sued. Nintendo holds the patent to the 3DS and all the tech involved with it. Sharp is hired to make the screens based on Nintendo's patent, and Nintendo's specifications. For example if I plagiarize a Book and it gets published unbeknownst to the publishers that it is plagiarized, and the original author sues, I will be the one liable not the publisher or printer because I was the one who copied someone elses work as my own. Sharp is just doing what Nintendo, who doesn't have the capability of manufacturing all of the part it needs for all it's consoles, is telling them to do. Nintendo gave them a blueprint for them to go off of, nothing was licensed from Sharp, rather the opposite Nintendo "licensed" Sharp to use what was claimed to be their design. Sony still owns the patent to the cell processor but has licensed IBM to manufacture it for them (Although in this case IBM also helped create it in the first place even though the patents are all still Sony's).

tachsniper
tachsniper

@tsunami2311 lawsuits are commonplace everywhere, the US has patent treaties and other treaties that stipulate international conflicts be resolved in the US courts. so do some research before you stereotype.

tsunami2311
tsunami2311

only in america where lawsuits are common place

deathblow3
deathblow3

@jecht_35 because every one using the tech has to pay even if the people you get your 3d screen from pays so will you have to pay. sharp if they are using his tech they probably pay him but that doesnt extented to nintendo. but to my understanding it is sharps patent that nintendo is using not Tomita Technologies.

tachsniper
tachsniper

@deathblow3 well maybe Nintendo will pass the buck to Sharp, so maybe there is a dual suit.

deathblow3
deathblow3

@tachsniper yes it is ninitendo's design as in they told sharp what they wanted. they did not create the specs for the 3d screen and how it delivers 3d that is all sharps tech not nintendo's everything in the 3ds tech wise is someone else's tech except for the chipset

01706_123
01706_123

Tomita technolgy is 4 years late

tachsniper
tachsniper

@jecht_35 because it was nintendo's design, sharp just built it. basically Nintendo told sharp this is what we want, and contracted sharp to build it, it was Nintendo's idea. as far as i know.

deathblow3
deathblow3

well just like anything else he has to prove that his 3d tech is delivered the same as the 3ds. if it is the same method of 3d delivery he will get a very big check but i am sure it is different these big companies spend alot of money on research to avoid stuff like this sometimes it is different enough to barely pass as a new patent. this is just like the rumble feature law suit a few years back.

jecht_35
jecht_35

I'm kind of confused by this law suit, this is a sharp's parallax barrier display screen that nintendo is using so why sue nintendo over it, can someone explain it to me?