Six years ago, Tomita Technologies’ eponymous Seijiro Tomita claimed that Nintendo officials stole his developing technology for 3D screens that didn’t require the use of glasses. He demonstrated his idea in 2003 and promptly sued Nintendo in 2011 when the company unveiled the original 3DS. Being found guilty of patent infringement in 2013 and subsequently fined $30.2 million in damages to Tomita, Nintendo didn’t take this ruling lying down, and as a result, the decision to reverse the ruling was recently confirmed by a United States Appeals Court.
Tomita pursued this route because he wasn’t able to find a company who would license out his technology, and considering he claimed to be owed $9.80 for each 3DS sold, and considering that over 65 million of every model have been sold since the end of 2016, Nintendo would have garnered significant losses exceeding half of a billion dollars. The company remained confident that it didn’t steal Tomita’s ideas for the 3DS’s parallax barrier nor the “cross-point” technology of the outer cameras for taking 3D pictures and using AR cards. After appealing the case, it was sent back to the Southern District Court of New York in 2014 due to a misunderstanding of Tomita’s patent for how the image display functions. Now, it seems Nintendo’s statement to Kotaku that it remains “confident that the result will be set aside” was well founded.
It was only until last year that Judge Jed Rakoff overturned his original decision, ruling in Nintendo’s favor. Now that this has been solidified in a higher court, Nintendo continues its fairly consistent record of conquering the courts. Ajay Singh, who has been presiding over the case as Nintendo of America’s Director of Litigation and Compliance, boasts the company’s legal reputation.
Nintendo 3DS has never used the technology in Tomita’s patent, and the Court’s ruling confirms Nintendo’s long tradition of using its own innovative technology. This case also proves once again that Nintendo will aggressively defend patent lawsuits when our products do not infringe, even when we must do so over many years, through multiple trials and in multiple countries.
Do you think the law has made the right decision in Nintendo’s favor? What are some court cases you have followed before involving the video game industry? Yell out “Objection!” in the comments below to give us your verdicts.