Nintendo has been found liable for patent infringement over the glasses-free 3D technology used in its Nintendo 3DS console.
A federal jury in New York found that the Japanese game company had infringed a 3D technology patent with the release of the 3DS console, and will be forced to pay $30.2 million (£20.2 million) in damages to the inventor.
Seijiro Tomita, a former long-term Sony employee, originally developed the technology to provide 3D images without the need for 3D viewing glasses. The patent for “technology relating to displaying stereoscopic images on-screen for viewing with the naked eye i.e. without utilizing glasses or other devices” was filed by Tomita in 2003 and eventually granted in 2008.
Joe Diamante, Tomita’s legal representative, claimed his client demoed the prototype of his technology for seven Nintendo officials in 2003, some of which were involved in the development of the Nintendo 3DS.
Nintendo’s defence, Scott Lindvall, rebuffed Tomita’s claims, suggest that the meeting in question was just one of many Nintendo was holding with creators selling 3D display technology.
“The Tomita patent did not relate to the 3D games playable on the Nintendo 3DS,” claimed Nintendo of America in a statement.
However, the jury in New York found that Nintendo had in fact infringed upon Tomita’s patent, and ordered the Super Mario franchise creator to pay damages.
Nintendo still insist that its Nintendo 3DS technology lacks key aspects of Tomita’s patent.
“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.”
Diamante and his team starting legal proceedings against Nintendo on behalf of Tomita in 2011 for patent infringements, but unfortunately Tomita wasn’t present at the hearing that announced his success.
“We are thankful to the jurors for their diligence and hard work,” said Diamante, in a post-verdict email. “It has been an honour to represent Mr. Tomita and to protect his invention.”
Lindvall has yet to comment on the verdict.
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