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US jury fines Nintendo $30m in 3D techonology patent case

Nintendo found itself on the losing end of a patent infringement case earlier this week, resulting in a $30 million (£20 million) fine.

A US jury this week ruled that Nintendo's 3DS video-game system infringed on an inventor's 3D display technology patent, Reuters reported. That inventor, Seijiro Tomita, was awarded $30.2 million in compensatory damages.

The suit dates back to June 2011, when Tomita, a former longtime Sony employee, filed a complaint against Nintendo, claiming that the Japanese company stole from his 2008 patent covering glasses-less 3D technology.

Tomita's law firm, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, issued the following statement in regards to the final verdict: "Mr. Tomita's distinguished career, both with Sony and his own company, is a testamtent to his innovative and pioneering character. It has been a privilege representing him and we are thankful to the jury for their diligence in this case."

Nintendo did not immediatley respond to a request for comment. The company did, however, tell Kotaku that Tomita's patent did not relate to the 3D games available on the Nintendo 3DS. "Nintendo is confident that the result will be set aside," the company told the blog. "The jury's verdict will not impact Nintendo's continued sales in the United States of its highly acclaimed line of video game hardware, software, and accessories, including the Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo has a long history of developing innovative products while respecting the intellectual property rights of others."

During last month's trial, Tomita pointed to the fact that he'd met with several Nintendo research and development engineers in 2003 to show off a prototype of his technology, Ars Technica reported. The game studio argued, though, that Tomita was simply one of many 3D-selling vendors with which it met, and that his patent was "overly vague" in many ways.

A jury sided with the inventor, slapping Nintendo with the $30 million fine. Though that's only a fraction of the original $292 million (£194 million) Tomita demanded, which was $9.80 (£6.50) for every Nintendo 3DS sold, Ars Technica said.

Amidst news the patent loss, meanwhile, Nintendo today released details about the Pokémon-themed Pikachu Edition Nintendo 3DS XL, set for release on 24 March. The bright yellow hand-held system features the iconic character on its cover, and comes packaged with a 4GB SD memory card. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity will launch for the Nintendo 3DS on the same day this month.

For diehard fans, Nintendo is offering a special bonus to those who buy both the XL system and the new Pokémon game: Anyone who registers the game system and either the Mystery Dungeon title or Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon with Club Nintendo between 21 March and 30 April will receive a code to download one of five 3DS games for free. The company listed Super Mario 3D Land, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, Art Academy: Lessons for Everyone!, Star Fox 64 3D, and Freakyforms Deluxe: Your Creations, Alive!.