Tomita Technologies USA LLC v. Nintendo Co.
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
Case No. 11-cv-04256, Filed June 22, 2011

A technology company based in Japan and the U.S. brought suit against Nintendo for allegedly infringing on their stereoscopic (3-D) patent with its new 3-D gaming system. According to the complaint, Tomita Technologies was founded by a former Sony engineer, who after retiring from Sony after 30 years, went on to research and invent nearly 70 patents, and over 100 patent applications, since 2002. Among these inventions is U.S. Patent No. 7,417,664 (the ‘664 patent) titled “Stereoscopic Image Picking Up and Display System Based Upon Optical Axes Cross-Point Information.” According to the complaint, the ‘664 patent deals with “technology relating to displaying stereoscopic images on-screen for viewing with the naked eye, i.e., without utilizing glasses or other devices.”

Tomita alleges that Nintendo’s 3DS system, which launched in the U.S. in March, infringes on the ‘664 patent. The 3DS system allows for gameplay featuring real 3-D graphics, with no need for special glasses. According to the Sony website, as cited in the complaint, 3DS achieves this by using two outer cameras to see the world in 3-D, mimicking the human eye. Tomita alleges that Nintendo is willfully infringing on its ‘664 patent in order to make 3DS possible. The complaint does not detail how 3DS, a hand-held gaming system, infringes the patent.

According to the complaint, Tomita applied for the patent in 2003 and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued it in August 2008. This is not the first time Nintendo’s DS series of hand-held systems has attracted attention from other patent litigants. Law360 reports that, in late May, Japan-based Milestone Co. sued the company over the camera lens system its DSi system. And, in February, a Texas patent-holding company accused Nintendo of infringing a patent on motion-sensitive video game controllers.