The 3DS may be a license to print money, but some of that money isn't Nintendo's anymore.
So, it's been a while, or rather at least a week, without any lawsuits. We're long overdue, basically. However, today I bring you something strange, strange in that it's both something I wasn't even aware was happening, and it's also over, or at least the initial court case is over.
Turns out that Nintendo was recently the defendant in a patent infringement case brought against them by Tomita Technologies. Tomita Technologies alleged that Nintendo had violated their patent on method of getting 3-D images without having to wear glasses. They claimed that Nintendo had met with them in 2003 and then developed the 3DS after declining to bring Tomita Tech in. Nintendo argued that the technology that Tomita employee Sejiro Tomita -- who strangely enough was at one point a Sony employee -- was merely one of many options that they were looking into at the time.
In a rather surprising development, Nintendo actually lost the suit. Tomita Technologies stands to make $30 million dollars from the case, although considering they were asking for nearly $300 million they probably wish that it had gone better as well. Of course this is assuming that Nintendo is simply willing to let things slide here and not file an appeal to begin another court battle.
These days one has to admit that a lot of people are pretty sue happy when it comes to things like this. There are plenty of patent trolls trying to make cases like this everyday, however, it seems that this is not one of those instances. The grieved party is a person and company that actually exists, and was ready and willing to defend their claim.
This time Tomita managed to convince a judge that Nintendo did indeed steal from his conceptions, although that may not be the case if they go to court again. Still, this quote from the article is quite telling: "Nintendo argued that Tomita was one of many potential vendors that it met with and that the patent was overly vague in a number of ways. The judge disagreed, noting in his decision numerous similarities between the 3DS' stereoscopic display and the one described in Tomita's patent."
Nintendo has noted that they don't expect this to impact sales, nor do they expect the decision to be upheld in the end. Overconfidence, perhaps, but probably not misplaced overconfidence considering the legal team that the company must have.
There is a certain dark amusement here, considering that many people on the Internet have been quick to point out when Sony and Microsoft have seemingly aped Nintendos ideas for themselves. I wonder what those people might think of this, if indeed they care one way or another.