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Has Nintendo stolen the 3DS’ technology?

2 min read


Nintendo’s been embroiled in a legal case with a patent holder of the glasses-free 3D technology used in its stereoscopic handheld, the 3DS. While these cases are usually frivolous examples of money-grabbing by patent squatters, it seems there could be merit here – and Nintendo may have stolen the tech used to beam 3D images in to your eyeballs.

A New York federal jury has ruled that Nintendo has infringed upon patents owned by inventor Seijiro Tomita. Tomita, interestingly a former Sony employee met with Nintendo in 2003 to sell his 3D technology. His pitch went nowhere, but just a few years later, in 2011, Nintendo released the 3DS – employing very similar tech; optical axes cross-point information.

They’ve awarded Tomita with a $30.2 million damages settlement; money that Nintendo can ill afford right now.

Nintendo, for their part, seems to have largely shrugged it off, saying that their tech isn’t exactly the same – and that they plan to appeal.

A jury awarded $30.2 million in damages to Tomita Technologies in a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Tomita against Nintendo. The Tomita patent did not relate to the 3D games playable on the Nintendo 3DS. The trial was held in U.S. District Court in New York before Judge Jed Rakoff.

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.

Nintendo’s usually credited with innovating technologies that other people end up copying, but it looks like this time, the roles may have been reversed.

Last Updated: March 14, 2013

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