It’s a good thing Nintendo was able to get the 3DS back on track and successful because they will soon have to pay royalties on every handheld sold. This according to a December 11th court ruling which found that Nintendo’s 3DS infringes on a patent held by Tomita Technologies International LTD.

Originally, Nintendo was going to have to pay a flat rate on every 3DS sold, but the judge ruled such a payout would result in an “unearned windfall” as 3DS manufacturing prices, and inevitably retail prices, declined. Instead, Nintendo will pay a percentage of the wholesale 3DS price for every handheld sold.

Tomita’s patent, for those that are curious, revolves around using two cameras to determine how far the user’s face is from the 3D screen. Basically, the patent gives devices that deliver glasses-less 3D a way to alter the effect’s intensity.

However, while the court did rule in favor of Tomita, there are some questions about whether or not the 3DS actually uses the company’s technology. As we understand it, the Nintendo renders 3D based on a fixed distance (about 12 inches) and the user must adjust their head accordingly to get the right effect.

Regardless, Nintendo lost their court battle and must pay royalties to Tomita for the lifetime of the 3DS. Although it’s not a flat rate, the royalty payout couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time, given the 3DS has only been on the market for about 3 years and will continue to sell, hopefully well. Not only that, the handheld has found a lot of success recently.

This past year, for example, the 3DS came into its own with titles like Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, Pokemon X and Y, and the stellar The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. That upward trend should only continue in 2014 as the handheld is poised to make a killing thanks to the release of Super Smash Bros.

Luckily, though, if the 3DS stays on track, the royalties will be a small price to pay for the inevitable success. And the debate over whether Nintendo did, in fact, infringe on Tomita’s patent will be a non-issue.

Are you surprised to learn Nintendo, according to the court, infringed on another company’s patent? Do you think this court ruling will impact the 3DS’ potential success?

Source: Law 360 (via NeoGAF)

tags: 3DS, Nintendo