Bigwig video game company Nintendo was found guilty yesterday (March 13th) for patent infringement concerning patented technology used for the Nintendo 3DS. Seijiro Tomita, inventor of the 3D display technology used for the 3DS, sued Nintendo and its US branch back in 2011, and has since sought compensation. Well, up until yesterday, of course. The legal proceedings were detailed on Reuters (via CVG).
Let’s rewind a wee bit. It started back in February this year, when a trial for said infringement pitted former Sony employee and decorated inventor Seijiro Tomita against Nintendo in the US District Court in Manhattan on February 25th.
Tomita developed the technology for viewing 3D images without the use of 3D glasses, and presented a prototype of his invention to seven Nintendo officials at the company’s Kyoto headquarters in 2003 – four of which went off to help develop the Nintendo 3DS. At the time, Tomita was looking for license partners whilst his patent for his invention was pending.
Tomita’s attorney, Joseph Diamante, told the jury that Nintendo used Tomita’s technology for its 3DS handheld. He cited that an “expert’s damage estimate that Tomita is entitled to about $9.80 for every 3DS sold.”
Diamante later quoted from Tomita, saying that he “actually felt betrayed and hurt that they were using his technology.”
Nintendo’s attorney (Scott Lindvall), however, countered with that Tomita’s session with the Nintendo officials was “one of hundreds.” He noted that prior to meeting with Tomita, Nintendo had already met with four other vendors pitching 3D display technology. He added that the “3DS does not use a key aspect of Tomita’s patent called “cross-point” information, which helps display 3-D images on different screens.”
Fast forward a few weeks to yesterday. The jury of the court found Nintendo guilty of infringing Tomita’s patent for 3D display technology with the company’s 3DS handheld.
Tomita was given $30.2 million in compensation. Presumably, that was $9.80 for nearly 31 million units sold (assuming I’ve done the math right).
“We are thankful to the jurors for their diligence and hard work,” Diamante said in an e-mail after the verdict. “It has been a honor to represent Mr. Tomita and to protect his invention.”
When requested, Lindvall didn’t comment on anything once the verdict was reached.
As much as I don’t understand what the consequential nuances could be following this verdict, I hope it won’t have too much of a detrimental effect on both parties. That might not be the case, however (I’m new to video game legalities), but I like to remain optimistically neutral about these sorts of things.