Jury Orders Nintendo to Pay $30 Million In Infringement Case

Jury Orders Nintendo to Pay $30 Million In Infringement Case

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A U.S. jury has found that Nintendo's 3DS console infringes on an inventor's 3-D patent.

A federal jury in New York has found that Nintendo's 3DS console infringes on a 3-D display technology patented by Japanese inventor Seijiro Tomita. The jury has ordered Nintendo to pay out $30.2 million in damages to Tomita.

Tomita, 58, first sued Nintendo back in 2011. Tomita's attorney told the jury that Nintendo used technology that been developed by Tomita for the Nintendo 3DS console without his consent. Interestingly enough, Tomita is a former long-time Sony employee, and this verdict will probably only serve to strengthen the rivalry between the two console manufacturers.

Nintendo's counter-argument was that its 3DS didn't use key aspects of Tomita's technology. It says that the initial meeting in 2003 where Nintendo met with Tomita was only one of several meetings with other 3-D screen developers.

"We are thankful to the jurors for their diligence and hard work," Tomita's attorney said in an e-mail after the verdict. "It has been a honor to represent Mr. Tomita and to protect his invention." Nintendo's attorneys declined to comment.

This huge payout doesn't bode well for Nintendo, which is already suffering from poor Wii U sales. The 3DS features a screen that allows users to view 3D effects without the aid of 3D glasses. It is unknown if this case will have any effect on the technology Nintendo currently employs for its 3DS screens.

Source: Reuters

Permalink

wait, you can patent 3d now? gosh, my eyes are infringing on this patent i must close them forever.

Strazdas:
wait, you can patent 3d now? gosh, my eyes are infringing on this patent i must close them forever.

No, but you can infringe on a technology to see 3D objects on a 2D screen without glasses.

Don't forget, you don't even have to actually create a working model of the technology. Only the concept with a nice little diagram of the concept. Some of the best technology man actually ever thinks of is already patented and simply not developed because of the chance that you might just step on a patent lawsuit landmine. Cause for some people it is easier to sue than to actually do the hard work of creating a product.

I doubt Nintendo will pay anything. The technology in the 3DS and the patent Tomita filed are not similar:

http://www.google.com/patents?id=ngetAAAAEBAJ&pg=PA2&source=gbs_selected_pages&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false
http://www.google.com/patents/EP2063308A1?cl=en&dq=sharp+corporation+parallax&hl=en&sa=X&ei=k4YuUZH1JaTw2QXekYDQBg&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAQ

The first is Tomita's, the second is Sharp Corporation's, which Nintendo is using. Note that Tomita's uses a device which detects the user's position from the device and adjusts the image accordingly, while Sharp Corp's uses a series of manually-adjusted parallax barriers.

They could argue that Nintendo used the 3D camera in Tomita's design, but since it's not part of the whole system I don't think that's applicable.

All in all, $30 million is chump change for this kind of lawsuit and Nintendo will probably just settle rather than drag this out any longer. But I don't think the jury made the right decision here.

CriticalMiss:

Strazdas:
wait, you can patent 3d now? gosh, my eyes are infringing on this patent i must close them forever.

No, but you can infringe on a technology to see 3D objects on a 2D screen without glasses.

on one side i am happy because its a bite at nintendo, on another side i am sad that they allow you to patent such broad terms as ability to see 3d objects on 2d screen.

Scribblesense:
All in all, $30 million is chump change for this kind of lawsuit and Nintendo will probably just settle rather than drag this out any longer. But I don't think the jury made the right decision here.

Juries are pretty useless on technical matters... or complex legal matters for that matter...

Dryk:

Scribblesense:
All in all, $30 million is chump change for this kind of lawsuit and Nintendo will probably just settle rather than drag this out any longer. But I don't think the jury made the right decision here.

Juries are pretty useless on technical matters... or complex legal matters for that matter...

a jury had to be flung out in the UK recently because they sent a note to the judge asking, amongst other things, "Can you define what is reasonable doubt ?" (judges answer ? "A reasonable doubt is a doubt that is reasonable. These are ordinary English words that the law does not allow me to help you with.") and "Can a juror come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it ?"...

image

Sleekit:

Dryk:

Scribblesense:
All in all, $30 million is chump change for this kind of lawsuit and Nintendo will probably just settle rather than drag this out any longer. But I don't think the jury made the right decision here.

Juries are pretty useless on technical matters... or complex legal matters for that matter...

a jury had to be flung out in the UK recently because they sent a note to the judge asking, amongst other things, "Can you define what is reasonable doubt ?" (judges answer ? "A reasonable doubt is a doubt that is reasonable. These are ordinary English words that the law does not allow me to help you with.") and "Can a juror come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it ?"...

image

Things like that just make me yearn for our robot overlords to take over. The robo-jury would make a decision faster, cheaper and better. Unfortunately someone would sue the robots for infringing on their copyright for robo-justice.

Robo-justice (C) Me 2013.

Strazdas:
wait, you can patent 3d now? gosh, my eyes are infringing on this patent i must close them forever.

No need to be snarky! :p

Tenmar:
Don't forget, you don't even have to actually create a working model of the technology. Only the concept with a nice little diagram of the concept. Some of the best technology man actually ever thinks of is already patented and simply not developed because of the chance that you might just step on a patent lawsuit landmine. Cause for some people it is easier to sue than to actually do the hard work of creating a product.

Kind of. Its been discussed at length here before but basically the diagram has to be near complete (as in a manufacturer could just pick up the plans and go with it) for a patent to have any strength. It used to be the case that you could show a hypothetical model that was maybe only half proveable but those days are on the way out now.

Also have to keep in mind that Nintendo met with Tomito - this suggests he had either a working model or at the very least a very strong proof of concept. This brings me onto the next point:

Scribblesense:
I doubt Nintendo will pay anything. The technology in the 3DS and the patent Tomita filed are not similar.

I think its passed the stage of appeal though, admittedly not sure. Either way the court has deemed that they are similar enough for the case to go in favour of Tomito.

Steven Bogos:

Tomita, 58, first sued Nintendo back in 2011. Tomita's attorney told the jury that Nintendo used technology that been developed by Tomita for its 3DS console without his consent. Interestingly enough, Tomita is a former long-time Sony employee, and this verdict will probably only serve to strengthen the rivalry between the two console manufacturers.

Wait what?
Is that a typo or is this Tomita guy making a 3DS as well, which SHOULD be copyrighted by nintendo right?

Keoul:

Steven Bogos:

Tomita, 58, first sued Nintendo back in 2011. Tomita's attorney told the jury that Nintendo used technology that been developed by Tomita for its 3DS console without his consent. Interestingly enough, Tomita is a former long-time Sony employee, and this verdict will probably only serve to strengthen the rivalry between the two console manufacturers.

Wait what?
Is that a typo or is this Tomita guy making a 3DS as well, which SHOULD be copyrighted by nintendo right?

Not a typo, just a bit of odd wording, sorry about that! Nintendo used technology that TOMITA developed for its (Nintendo's) 3DS console.

Steven Bogos:

Not a typo, just a bit of odd wording, sorry about that! Nintendo used technology that TOMITA developed for its (Nintendo's) 3DS console.

Ah I see, thanks for clearing that up.
Jeez even the original article had that.

CriticalMiss:

Things like that just make me yearn for our robot overlords to take over. The robo-jury would make a decision faster, cheaper and better. Unfortunately someone would sue the robots for infringing on their copyright for robo-justice.

Robo-justice (C) Me 2013.

I for one welcome our new robot overlords.

On a serious note, how do they get hammered with this lawsuit? I mean, Nintendo didn't even make the 3D technology themselves, they licensed it from Sharp. Shouldn't Sharp be the one getting sued over this if anyone was?

Boggles my mind.

Honestly I don't think this lawsuit is blown out of proportions. 30 millions is less than what they demand from someone caught uploading an episode of a TV show. I think they are wrong though because how the patent would involve the 3DS screen doing things it's nowhere near capable of doing rather than the technology they are using. It's a lot more than what they actually deserve, but this just proves that juries mainly are made up by those too stupid to avoid it.

And that is why we don't use juries. To leave matters of guilt or innocence up to democracy is kind of like flippin a coin. A very stupid coin that has biased ideas about everything. In fact why not judge trials by coin flip. You'd get the same result and the coin can't be intimidated or bribed as easily. Maybe if you beat up it's penny children.

Three judges overseeing a hearing ruling based on nothing but evidence and law. That is was you are supposed to do in these kinds of cases. Are these judges flawsless, incorruptible and honest? Of course not. But at least they know the bloody fucking law.

There is no patent infringement because the systems are similar but use different methods to achieve their 3D. One uses motion detection, the other adjustable slide settings. Sure they use the same 3D method of translucent/lightblocking lenses that allow different images to pass from 2 sets of pixels. However they are two itterations of the same idea, not the same thing. It is kind of like one car company suing another for using wheels on their cars.

Last time I checked nobody owned a patent on fucking lenses. Otherwise like one guy in the comments mentioned my bloody eyes are infringing on copyright if that's the case.

Why would a Japanese man sue a Japanese company in the US? Because the US system is obviously broken and shit like this can only work there.
A bunch of tech illiterate guys decided that Nintendo infringed a patent by using a completely different technology.

As has already bee pointed out: Nintendo didn't develop the 3D screen for the 3DS. Sharp did. If Tomita were to sue anyone, he should have sued Sharp for being the ones to allegedly rip off his idea, not Nintendo for simply buying it and using it in their own handheld.

If AMD rips off your CPU design, you go after AMD, not whichever console manufacturer happens to use AMD parts.

These patent cases are just getting ridiculous. First Samsung and Apple, now Nintendo... these cases need to take place in a court where people know what the fuck is actually being talked about.

Also, there were smartphones coming out with parallax-3D displays months before the 3DS was released. Why didn't Tomita go after any of them?

Steven Bogos:

"We are thankful to the jurors for their diligence and hard work," Tomita's attorney said in an e-mail after the verdict. "It has been a honor to represent Mr. Tomita and to protect his invention."

He means he's so lucky he won a case paying out 30 mil when he gets a percentage of it. If he came out and said that I wouldn't be so pissed about it.

OT: Well, I hope I don't live to see the day Nintendo dies and hope it can bounce back from this.

Strazdas:
wait, you can patent 3d now? gosh, my eyes are infringing on this patent i must close them forever.

Nope, sorry, that is unacceptable. You must remove said eyes at once!

This lawsuit seems like patent trolling to me. Is there any sign that Tomito is making a 3d thing and Nintendo could be taking their userbase?

Wait, he developed this technology specifically FOR the 3DS? Shouldn't his consent that they actually use it have been implied?

CriticalMiss:

Sleekit:
A jury had to be flung out in the UK recently because they sent a note to the judge asking, amongst other things, "Can you define what is reasonable doubt ?" (judges answer ? "A reasonable doubt is a doubt that is reasonable. These are ordinary English words that the law does not allow me to help you with.") and "Can a juror come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it ?"...

image

Things like that just make me yearn for our robot overlords to take over. The robo-jury would make a decision faster, cheaper and better. Unfortunately someone would sue the robots for infringing on their copyright for robo-justice.

Robo-justice (C) Me 2013.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
As has already bee pointed out: Nintendo didn't develop the 3D screen for the 3DS. Sharp did. If Tomita were to sue anyone, he should have sued Sharp for being the ones to allegedly rip off his idea, not Nintendo for simply buying it and using it in their own handheld.

If AMD rips off your CPU design, you go after AMD, not whichever console manufacturer happens to use AMD parts.

These patent cases are just getting ridiculous. First Samsung and Apple, now Nintendo... these cases need to take place in a court where people know what the fuck is actually being talked about.

Also, there were smartphones coming out with parallax-3D displays months before the 3DS was released. Why didn't Tomita go after any of them?

Because Nintendo is big and smartphone companies that make 3D displays are small (comparatively).

DVS BSTrD:
Wait, he developed this technology specifically FOR the 3DS? Shouldn't his consent that they actually use it have been implied?

He didn't develop it for the 3DS. He developed it as a technology, then shopped it round different electronics manufacturers. Nintendo took a look at it, then decided to go with Sharp's technology instead. Instead of just accepting that, he got uppity and decided to sue. Despite the fact that other electronics companies have also made devices with glasses-free parralax 3D.

It's just patent trolling.

Fasckira:

I think its passed the stage of appeal though, admittedly not sure. Either way the court has deemed that they are similar enough for the case to go in favour of Tomito.

It was a jury case. ERgo, not an appeal.

Strazdas:
wait, you can patent 3d now? gosh, my eyes are infringing on this patent i must close them forever.

Not sure if a joke, a strawman, or you really don't know what's going on.

Keoul:

Wait what?
Is that a typo or is this Tomita guy making a 3DS as well, which SHOULD be copyrighted by nintendo right?

Tomitas, a person, claims that Nintendo, an entity, used the technology he developed for its (given the fact that Tomitas has been established as a "he" it's most likely referencing Nintendo) Nintendo 3DS.

No, he wasn't developing his own console.

BiH-Kira:
Why would a Japanese man sue a Japanese company in the US? Because the US system is obviously broken and shit like this can only work there.
A bunch of tech illiterate guys decided that Nintendo infringed a patent by using a completely different technology.

You know, Japan has trod over IP laws for decades, so there's a flip side there. Honestly, it's kind of the reason that Japanese import CDs were heaven for us audiophiles in the 90s. They would release stuff that artists wouldn't let out if there was any choice in the matter.

However, can you confirm he didn't sue in other jurisdictions?

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

He didn't develop it for the 3DS.

To be fair, DVS is going off the same info the rest of us are. The article here makes it sound like he was working with Nintendo, so the confusion is understandable.

In such circumstances, it'd seem unlikely that the intellectual property rights would have remained with Tamita, as business doesn't work that way (generally speaking).

everyone I know with a 3DS just keeps the 3D off most of the time anyway. I only turn it on for cut-scenes. I don't know the actual number of people who leave it on, but from what I've seen, Nintendo is dishing out big bucks on a feature that's just a novelty.

Kwil:

Fasckira:

I think its passed the stage of appeal though, admittedly not sure. Either way the court has deemed that they are similar enough for the case to go in favour of Tomito.

It was a jury case. ERgo, not an appeal.

I misinterpreted the article, thought they had past both stages and that Nintendo were now at the "Pay now, no buts." stage, contristati.

BiH-Kira:

A bunch of tech illiterate guys decided that Nintendo infringed a patent by using a completely different technology.

Sleekit:

image

Any other time, I would agree with you 100% & call this blatant patent trolling...

...but Nintendo met with the guy to check out his tech; that complicates the situation a bit. It proves that Nintendo was not only aware of his patent, but also the exact mechanics of it.
Did they just take his design & tweak it enough to not pay him? To what degree was it changed? I haven't read through the patents, so I can't say I know, but the question would have a lot of weight on the case (Not that any of it would mean much to a tech-illiterate jury, so who knows)

BiH-Kira:
Why would a Japanese man sue a Japanese company in the US? Because the US system is obviously broken and shit like this can only work there.
A bunch of tech illiterate guys decided that Nintendo infringed a patent by using a completely different technology.

I was thinking the same thing. Tomita is Japanese, works for Sony (a Japanese company) and sued Nintendo (A Japanese company) over something that was originally released in Japan. Why else would a US court be involved apart from the Japan courts telling Tomito he's full of it?

Is Tomita actually doing something with his patent? Is he actually creating something?

If not then he's impeding innovation.

I've heard that the 3D of the 3DS is hard on the eyes and the brain, but at least it's a thing.

Patents are borked. Borked, borked, borked, borked, borked.

238U

Zombie_Moogle:

BiH-Kira:
snip

Sleekit:

snip

Any other time, I would agree with you 100% & call this blatant patent trolling...

...but Nintendo met with the guy to check out his tech; that complicates the situation a bit. It proves that Nintendo was not only aware of his patent, but also the exact mechanics of it.
Did they just take his design & tweak it enough to not pay him? To what degree was it changed? I haven't read through the patents, so I can't say I know, but the question would have a lot of weight on the case (Not that any of it would mean much to a tech-illiterate jury, so who knows)

Nintendo didn't even develop the technology they use in the 3DS. They bought the technology from Sharp. And it's a different kind of glassless 3D. If that guy really wanted to sue someone, it should be Sharp because they are the one who broke the patent. But they didn't. Scribblesense explains it.

Scribblesense:
I doubt Nintendo will pay anything. The technology in the 3DS and the patent Tomita filed are not similar:

http://www.google.com/patents?id=ngetAAAAEBAJ&pg=PA2&source=gbs_selected_pages&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false
http://www.google.com/patents/EP2063308A1?cl=en&dq=sharp+corporation+parallax&hl=en&sa=X&ei=k4YuUZH1JaTw2QXekYDQBg&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAQ

The first is Tomita's, the second is Sharp Corporation's, which Nintendo is using. Note that Tomita's uses a device which detects the user's position from the device and adjusts the image accordingly, while Sharp Corp's uses a series of manually-adjusted parallax barriers.

They could argue that Nintendo used the 3D camera in Tomita's design, but since it's not part of the whole system I don't think that's applicable.

All in all, $30 million is chump change for this kind of lawsuit and Nintendo will probably just settle rather than drag this out any longer. But I don't think the jury made the right decision here.

Zachary Amaranth:

Strazdas:
wait, you can patent 3d now? gosh, my eyes are infringing on this patent i must close them forever.

Not sure if a joke, a strawman, or you really don't know what's going on.

the intention was a joke......with a bit of irony on how crap patenting system is.....

Strazdas:

CriticalMiss:

Strazdas:
wait, you can patent 3d now? gosh, my eyes are infringing on this patent i must close them forever.

No, but you can infringe on a technology to see 3D objects on a 2D screen without glasses.

on one side i am happy because its a bite at nintendo, on another side i am sad that they allow you to patent such broad terms as ability to see 3d objects on 2d screen.

He didn't patent the ability to see 3D on a 2D screen, he had a patent on a specific system to create that effect which Nintendo allegadly copied after he pitched the idea to them, thus committing theft.

 

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