Inventor argues Nintendo infringed his 3-D patent

By Bernard Vaughan

NEW YORK, Feb 26 (Reuters) – A patent infringement trial over 3-D display technology has pit an inventor against videogaming giant Nintendo Co.

The patent relates to technology that inventor Seijiro Tomita developed for providing 3-D images without the need for 3-D glasses.

In opening arguments on Monday, Tomita’s attorney, Joe Diamante of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, told a jury in U.S. District Court in Manhattan that Nintendo used technology that the inventor developed for its handheld 3DS videogame system. Tomita is a former longtime Sony Corp employee.

But Scott Lindvall of Kaye Scholer, an attorney for the Super Mario Bros franchise creator, said the 3DS doesn’t use key aspects of Tomita’s patent.

Lindvall also said a 2003 meeting that Tomita cites in his argument was merely one of several the company held with vendors selling 3-D display technology.

Tomita sued Nintendo and its U.S. unit in 2011 for patent infringement and is seeking damages.

His attorney cited an expert’s damage estimate that Tomita is entitled to about $9.80 for every 3DS sold. The 3DS, a colorful cellphone-size product, costs $169.99 on the company’s website.

The trial is before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.

Earlier this year, Nintendo, the world’s leading gaming company by machines sold, cut the sales outlook for the 3DS by 2.5 million machines to 15 million for its fiscal year ending in March.

Tomita displayed a prototype of his technology for seven Nintendo officials at the company’s Kyoto headquarters in 2003 as he was looking for licensee partners while his patent application was pending, Diamante told jurors.

Four of those seven people would go on to help develop the 3DS, which Nintendo eventually launched in March 2011, he said.

“He actually felt betrayed and hurt that they were using his technology,” Diamante said.

But Lindvall noted that Nintendo constantly has meetings with vendors. And prior to its meeting with Tomita, Nintendo had already had four meetings with vendors shopping 3-D display technology, including a 2002 meeting with Sharp Corp, which eventually made the display for Nintendo’s 3DS.

“Mr. Tomita’s meeting was one of hundreds,” Lindvall said.

Moreover, he said, the 3DS does not use a key aspect of Tomita’s patent called “cross-point” information, which helps display 3-D images on different screens.

Tomita, 58, is a scientist and engineer who retired from Sony in 2002 after almost 30 years to pursue inventions, according to his lawsuit.

He is listed as an inventor or co-inventor of nearly 70 patents globally, according to the lawsuit.

Tomita received a patent for the 3-D display technology in the United States in 2008, and he holds a corresponding patent in Japan, according to the lawsuit. But since Nintendo launched 3DS, Tomita has had trouble finding a licensee partner for his technology, Diamante told the jury.

Tomita was in a wheelchair on Monday, as he continues to recover from a stroke, Diamante said.

The case is Tomita Technologies USA LLC and Tomita Technologies International Inc v. Nintendo Co Ltd and Nintendo of America Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-4256.

For Tomita Technologies USA LLC and Tomita Technologies International Inc: Joseph Diamante, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan.

For Nintendo Co Ltd and Nintendo of America Inc: Scott Lindvall, Kaye Scholer.

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