Inventor Calls Out Nintendo for 3DS Patent Infringement

Inventor Calls Out Nintendo for 3DS Patent Infringement

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An inventor with a patent for viewing 3D images without glasses says Nintendo needs to properly license his work.

It doesn't seem like anybody can release a new product without being sued for patent infringement nowadays, and Nintendo is no different when it comes to the 3DS. The no-glasses 3D handheld maker is under a lawsuit assault from an inventor and Sony veteran for the technology used in the product.

Seijiro Tomita spent nearly 30 years at Sony before retiring in 2002. During his "retirement," he got all up in some patent action, now holding around 70 patents and 100 patent applications.

Tomita has sued Nintendo over a patent that he holds for "Stereoscopic image picking up and display system based upon optical axes cross-point information." In other words, glasses-free 3D. He claims that Nintendo has infringed on this patent with the 3DS, which has a glasses-free 3D screen.

Because Nintendo hasn't licensed Tomita's tech, he's taking the company to court to determine whether or not it needs to. Tomita holds the patent in both Japan and North America. He's seeking damages to the tune of an amount that is likely megabucks, while he also intends to prove that Nintendo was knowledgeable and deliberate with its infringement.

Source: Gamasutra

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I haven't heard of Nintendo doing anything like this in the past, but it honestly wouldn't surprise me if they did.

Ugh. OK, yes. It's possible. But at this point patent lawsuits are so common you might as well ask what the patent system is even doing these days?

Especially since the patent holders in these cases rarely actually build anything they hold a patent on. (which, you know... used to be required?)

As for 3d, what about those cheap parallax barrier things? Who owns that patent? How would it relate to this?

Fappy:
I haven't heard of Nintendo doing anything like this in the past, but it honestly wouldn't surprise me if they did.

Look up Hillcrest sometime.

wow damn this should be interesting.

Oh Jesus CHRIST!! Another asshole with a get-rich-quick-scheme. These pricks seem to come out of the woodwork when a successful product is launched, don't they?
I seem to recall a similar case shortly after the Wii was released.

CrystalShadow:
Ugh. OK, yes. It's possible. But at this point patent lawsuits are so common you might as well ask what the patent system is even doing these days?

Especially since the patent holders in these cases rarely actually build anything they hold a patent on. (which, you know... used to be required?)

As for 3d, what about those cheap parallax barrier things? Who owns that patent? How would it relate to this?

The guy's genuine (he is, as for how much ground his claim has I wouldn't know). Apparently several other companies have licensed his tech and he got the patent approved in a country that isn't the US(!).
Not that this will stop idiots from calling him a patent troll, but whatever.

And yeah, it would be nice if you had to build the stuff instead of submitting a somewhat vague idea about how it might work, but that would also be a dick move to small companies and private individuals without the proper funding.

Well than... Nintendo pulled a Herp Derp didn't they? You would think that they would have a guy that would at least devote a day, if not a year, to see if someone already had a patent to what they wished to create. In a universe as infinite as ours I am not surprised at all that this happened. The only reason I see Nintendo getting out of this is if they already did review the patent but used different material and different coding all together. I can see them doing that to... Damn the universe for being unpredictable :(

I did a little digging and looking at other articles posting about this and Tomita's patent appears to be different from Nintendo's. Both use a medium (display) to create a 3D image however Tomita's patent shows refraction of light from an overlay on the display while the 3DS uses a barrier with "slits" to create the stereoscopic effect. The big difference is the medium through which this happens. One is based on Refraction of light and the other is based solely on angles.

"while he also intends to prove that Nintendo was knowledgeable and deliberate with its infringement."

That's not impossible, in fact quite likely.
The FIRST thing you do when making a new piece of tech is checking out if there are any patents you are violating!
Otherwise you end up paying $15 to Microsoft for every smartphone you crank out (look it up) :P

maybe next time he "invents" something, he should write more precisely how he would accomplish this, because as i see it, he just gave a vague description based on knowledge already present at the time of patenting.

DeadlyYellow:

Fappy:
I haven't heard of Nintendo doing anything like this in the past, but it honestly wouldn't surprise me if they did.

Look up Hillcrest sometime.

Wow, looks like they have a history of this. Thanks for the link.

I'm instantly sceptical about ALL patent claims.

for example you can patent the "idea" of a flying car with precisely ZERO knowledge of how that would even by mechanically of physically possible, just "wouldn't it be neat if someone invented a car that could fly".

Now if someone slaved away for the rest of their life designing a flying car, they couldn't sell it BECAUSE SOME LAZY JACKASS JUST HAD SOME VAGUE IDEA!

This sounds a heck of a lot like "3D with glasses is annoying, wouldn't it be great if I didn't have to wear glasses by some lenticular effect... I don't know"

Frankly patent law is pointless because everyone has parents on everyone else on every little vague trivial thing, all it does is crush the little guy who can't afford to litigate on patent issues.

I didn't know you could patent how people perceive things. The way they do glasses free is no secret, and it's pretty basic. Instead of having the glasses split the image, the image is split before it is transmitted via two different image transmitters. That is like saying someone patented 3D glasses, which I don't think they did. I could be wrong though. And he had better be able to prove they knew, though I can't see how he could prove that. As it turns out, multiple people can have the same idea without actually stealing anything from each other. That is why patents of ideas are almost completely stupid. Prove you had the idea before someone else. I'm willing to bet that every great idea or thought I have had, others have had as well. This is the nature of reality.

In truth, I had this idea in sixth grade, but I didn't take it seriously, and in my sixth grade mind it would be hard to orchestrate... and it was 1996 when I was in sixth grade. So it may not have really been possible at the time. If he wins, can I sue him if I can find my old drawings of it?

Edit: This is the same idea Nintendo used in their failed system, the Virtual Boy. The only difference between now and then is the colors and lack of need to press anything to your face. The VB literally used two LED displays, one going to each eye, in order to make a 3D image. Which is what the 3DS does. So, I think they win.

I thought that Nintendo used a parallax screen developed by Sharp?

So I'm pretty sure Sharp would have patented it.

UnmotivatedSlacker:
I did a little digging and looking at other articles posting about this and Tomita's patent appears to be different from Nintendo's. Both use a medium (display) to create a 3D image however Tomita's patent shows refraction of light from an overlay on the display while the 3DS uses a barrier with "slits" to create the stereoscopic effect. The big difference is the medium through which this happens. One is based on Refraction of light and the other is based solely on angles.

So. . .basically the guy is a patent troll? If the difference is that obvious what can he possibly hope to gain? Bleh.

UnmotivatedSlacker:
I did a little digging and looking at other articles posting about this and Tomita's patent appears to be different from Nintendo's. Both use a medium (display) to create a 3D image however Tomita's patent shows refraction of light from an overlay on the display while the 3DS uses a barrier with "slits" to create the stereoscopic effect. The big difference is the medium through which this happens. One is based on Refraction of light and the other is based solely on angles.

So the only thing relating the two technologies is the vague idea of "Glasses-free 3D".

I swear if he gets a penny for this, it sets a terrible patent for designers everywhere opening them up to a torrent of patent trolling "parasites".

This patent fiasco makes me so angry... I makes me want to just start a new society in an underwater city where the designer not fear the patent office, the artist not fear the censor, where the GREAT would not be constrained by the small...

image

... and with the Sweat of your Brow... Rapture can be your city as well.

err

*ahem* sorry, got a bit Randish for a moment ther- NO GODS OR KINGS! ONLY MAN!

and this is why we cant have nice things

UnmotivatedSlacker:
I did a little digging and looking at other articles posting about this and Tomita's patent appears to be different from Nintendo's. Both use a medium (display) to create a 3D image however Tomita's patent shows refraction of light from an overlay on the display while the 3DS uses a barrier with "slits" to create the stereoscopic effect. The big difference is the medium through which this happens. One is based on Refraction of light and the other is based solely on angles.

Tomita is a patent troll, the last thing he would do is research his case properly. He is in it for the money, he will have even less once he loses.

did you know that smartphone manufacturers pay royalties to microsoft for using android?
Now thats a proper patent troll for you

I don't get this idea of patenting concepts. Methods, technology (as actual parts) and products are fine. But concepts like "glasses-free 3D" should not be accepted and if that is the basis of his claim (which, if Unmotivated Slacker is correct, it is) he should be sent packing... and maybe gets slapped with a fine because I feel bad tempered.

I like patents as a concept really, but it seems to me that too often they are used for someone to make a quick buck, much like people that hold silly copyrights (though the patents are worse). When you patent concepts the idea of "the better mouse-trap" goes out the window. "I made a better mouse-trap." "I got a patent on mouse-traps so I am suing you." "What?". It doesn't even have to be a better mouse-trap it could just be another type of mouse-trap (which I wager these to different methods represents).

Patents that just constitute a method or a blueprint is fine if the patent is well documented even without a full working prototype. This gives less well funded inventors a chance to make some money of ideas they have even though they don't have the means to build the thing (high tech tools might be needed). If they could not the companies they tried to sell the product too could just steal the thing, make a prototype and take out a patent, while the actual inventor gets left behind with his willy hanging out.

It is a murky area but sometimes patent offices should have the option to say: "you can't patent mouse-traps."

Yeah, that's what I thought too. There was a few stories about a 3D screen sharp was planning to put into mobiles around the time the 3DS was announced.

And who didn't think of the idea of stereoscopic 3D using eye position relative to the screen? If he did R&D on it, and it was nicked fair enough, but as it looks like no research was done on the screen manufacturer, I doubt it.

And the claim is being filed now...?

Staskala:

CrystalShadow:
Ugh. OK, yes. It's possible. But at this point patent lawsuits are so common you might as well ask what the patent system is even doing these days?

Especially since the patent holders in these cases rarely actually build anything they hold a patent on. (which, you know... used to be required?)

As for 3d, what about those cheap parallax barrier things? Who owns that patent? How would it relate to this?

The guy's genuine (he is, as for how much ground his claim has I wouldn't know). Apparently several other companies have licensed his tech and he got the patent approved in a country that isn't the US(!).
Not that this will stop idiots from calling him a patent troll, but whatever.

And yeah, it would be nice if you had to build the stuff instead of submitting a somewhat vague idea about how it might work, but that would also be a dick move to small companies and private individuals without the proper funding.

Well, yes, it sucks for small developers, but the problem is the systems that are in place make it trivial to hoard patents you never intend to use, the concept of 'prior art' is rarely given the weight you would expect, and there's a few too many overly broad patents that somehow get through...

For instance, is the patent in question here about a specific technique for creating glasses-free 3d displays?

Or is it the very concept of a 3d display without glasses?

The first, seems like a reasonable enough patent, (though why it would apply to nintendo, and not the manufacturer of the 3d display itself...)

But if it's a patent on the very idea of glasses-free 3d displays? That's ridiculous, to be honest.

Aren't you required to do something with the patent in a certain amount of time? Like 2 years or so else you will lose the patent, or was that one of the suggestions to the patent law to stop stuff like this?...

kebab4you:
Aren't you required to do something with the patent in a certain amount of time? Like 2 years or so else you will lose the patent, or was that one of the suggestions to the patent law to stop stuff like this?...

I'm sure there's a time frame, why can I not think of the word (because you're a microbiologist not a lawyer, Salad), in which you can take legal action but we've also got a "defend it or lose it" kind of patent law here in the states as well. Like, if someone is [allegedly] infringing on a copyright, not pursuing legal action is a tacit approval of the infringement.

Both parties are pretty suspect here; Tomita's patent seems tenuously applicable, but I'm also sure Nintendo has no problems with not paying for using a patented thing if they don't have to.

This type of activity is what halts innovation.

canadamus_prime:
Oh Jesus CHRIST!! Another asshole with a get-rich-quick-scheme. These pricks seem to come out of the woodwork when a successful product is launched, don't they?
I seem to recall a similar case shortly after the Wii was released.

My thoughts exactly. If they weren't building anything with the patent, they are just slime trying to rip people off.

Google "MMO lawsuit" for an amusingly similar case regarding City of Heroes (one of the earliest MMOs still around) and some prick claiming he owned the patent for MMOs

 

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