Ah, the Nintendo 3DS. Not for a while has a device evinced such mixed reactions. Everyone agrees the glasses-free technology is very impressive, but also that it's kind of stupid and a gimmick. Everyone agrees the hardware is sturdy and fairly powerful, but many think it's not powerful enough. Everyone's excited about the Ocarina of Time port, but generally everyone agrees the launch software line-up was scandalously lacking. And while it's not a flop, even Nintendo admit it hasn't sold as well as it should have so far.

But now Nintendo has a possible problem with the 3DS that runs more deeply - it's been sued by a former Sony engineer who says he has the patent on the glasses-free 'autostereoscopic' 3D technology the device uses.

The man in question, Sejiro Tomita, registered a patent in 2003 relating to 'a stereoscopic video image display device for displaying different video images for the eyes of a viewer.' As CNET argues: 'That certainly sounds rather like the 3DS, which uses parallax barrier technology. A thin sheet in front of the display is full of tiny slits that mean certain parts of the screen are hidden from one angle, but visible from another.'

Of course, this sort of patent dispute is not uncommon. But they can be very expensive - it was recently revealed that Microsoft has made millions from the success of HTC's Android phones because HTC pays them $5 on every sale after a patent suit. So Nintendo will be hoping they can dispatch this fairly easily.

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