3DS and 3DS XL

Nintendo could be facing a damages claim worth hundreds of millions of dollars if a court case doesn’t go its way. The lawsuit involves former Sony engineer and inventor Seijiro Tomita, who claims Nintendo is infringing a patent he holds for the 3D display technology that is currently used in the 3DS handheld.

Tomita held a meeting with seven Nintendo officials back in 2003 to show off a prototype of his then patent-pending display technology, but they didn’t sign a licensing deal with him. Tomita was later awarded the patent for his technology in 2008, and four of those seven officials who met with him went on to help create the 3DS hardware. Tomita claims the display used in the handheld uses his patented technology to allow 3D visuals to be seen without glasses.

Nintendo obviously thinks otherwise, pointing out it met with hundreds of people/companies when formulating the design of the 3DS. The Japanese company also believes there’s key parts of Tomita’s patent that clearly aren’t employed in the 3DS display and hopes this renders the claim invalid.

The lawsuit has made it to the US District Court in Manhattan, though, and Tomita believes he is entitled to $9.80 for every 3DS Nintendo has sold and will sell going forward. Nintendo has sold in the region of 30 million 3DS devices to date, suggesting Tomita could receive a check for $294,000,000 if he wins the case.

Tomita spent most of his working life (30 years) as an engineer at Sony. But in 2002 he retired and started inventing, and now has over 70 patents to his name. If he wins against Nintendo he doesn’t really need to worry about inventing anything ever again.

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