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Nintendo Guilty Of 3D Patent Infringement

Mar 14, 13 Nintendo Guilty Of 3D Patent Infringement

Whoops! I did not see this one coming. Nintendo has been found guilty by a New York jury of violating a patent owned by former employee Seijiro Tomita. Tomita, who previously worked at Sony, developed the technology years ago. His patent caused controversy for the game maker, owing to the fact that it could project 3D images without the need to play an optical illusion in the viewer’s eyes.

Needless to say, Nintendo was not happy. The Wii U manufacturer issued a statement to trusted sources such as IGN and 1UP that they had in fact been found guilty of patent infringement. The case was filed back in 2011, and over a few years, has finally seen Tomita rightfully (somewhat) rewarded with over $30 million in estimated damages.

Nintendo claims that these debacles will not halt their sales or business strategies in marketing in North America. Personally, I think it’s a bit farfetched that Nintendo should be accused, much less found guilty on patent infringement, owing to the fact that they hold the crown as the gaming industry’s most impressive innovators. Perhaps that keen eye for innovation isn’t an outright trait and they’re just great at stealing ideas, only to cover the tracks later on.

This recent court order sounds a lot like Nintendo’s sketchy attitude towards Sony back in the late 80s that saw both tech giants’ relationship tarnished. For those who don’t know, Sony had been a major technology and entertainment hub in the 80s. However, they hadn’t yet developed a console that could take the living room crowd by storm.

Their ideas tied into a CD-ROM add-on for the NES, which would give a larger amount of space and time for developers to craft bigger games. The idea seemed sound, since Nintendo did not have the tech group at the time to work on such a device. Unfortunately, Nintendo scrapped the idea altogether and booted Sony from the premises. The motive was never publicly stated by Nintendo. The story could have theoretically ended here, if Sony hadn’t taken their CD-ROM idea and made it the foundation of the very first PlayStation console.

Again, the story could end here, but my aforementioned claim on Nintendo’s sketchy behavior wouldn’t be sound; Sony released their PlayStation in ‘95, around the same time that Nintendo released its then N64 console. While the N64 did garner much popularity with its console exclusives and support of party games, it couldn’t exactly match the PlayStation’s disc drive tech.

As a result, Sony dominated a clear last half of the 90s in sales. Nintendo’s use of a CD-ROM wouldn’t be seen until their release of the GameCube, but in the time leading up to that, they made the majority of gaming consoles with handhelds, starting with the Gameboy Color.

This is where the argument’s credibility goes blurry. It’s difficult to say whether or not Nintendo had any anger towards Sony for its advancement. At that point in time, CD-ROM was the industry standard for developing games, yet no one questioned Nintendo on why they waited for so long to finally use that feature. Obviously, they didn’t feel the need to copy a rival’s idea for over a decade because of their own popularity. However, I believe that a keen eye should be kept on the fact that they began using CD-ROM when it became an industry standard.

Were they trying to remain original? Were they aiming to develop a feature to rival the CD-ROM? Unless you have a time machine, I suggest you let this one rest in peace. But don’t let that stop you from telling me your opinion on Nintendo’s recent guilty verdict on the 3DS patent.

Image Credit: Nintendo

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  • Anonymous

    Nintendo rested on its haunches for far too long. Sega releasing a full color 32bit handheld console with full stereo sound was answered by Nintendo releasing the same damn 8bit Gameboy they always made with only with colorful outer shells… and won with their backward technology by having a lockdown on popular game availability. PSX comes out and the laughable GameCube is the answer (the first battle they actually lost). Atari Jaguar gave us the first 64bit processor in console gaming, out comes the N64 (which is not a 64bit processor, but 2 32bit processors) with games so rushed it’s more fun to count the pixels than to actually play the games. Again, the only reason N64 fared better was game exclusivity. They dropped out of the innovation race a LONG time ago.