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283 comments

Human civilization fail (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073042)

So some patent troll deserves money because someone discovered something a random genius discovered again from scratch a year later, long before the patent was granted? And this helps innovation somehow?

Re:Human civilization fail (5, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073084)

While it may not affect Doom3, it *could* affect anyone else using code from the open-source version for anything else. Better safe than sorry, hmm?

Re:Human civilization fail (5, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073274)

Actually Carmack might find himself in hot water over this if the patent holders (Creative Labs) get litigious, which they undoubtedly will because in cases like these the patents are there so that they can be used to extort funds, much like trolls guarding a bridge, forcing payment in order for permission to pass.

I wonder if Id had previously settled with Creative about this patent issue, or not -- because Doom 3 was the most successful product launch for the company to date at over 3.5mil copies sold. That could be a big payday for Creative Labs if Id didn't contract this properly.

Re:Human civilization fail (5, Informative)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073522)

They (Creative) already did. id Software and Creative Labs made an agreement that id Software could use the algorithm without paying any fees if they included support for Creative's EAX and branded the game with Creative Labs logos. See http://techreport.com/discussions.x/7113 [techreport.com]

Re:Human civilization fail (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073820)

Creative did this to EVERY development studio if they used stencil shadows on previous generation titles. They certainly did for the developer I worked for. Why else do you think EAX survived longer then a heartbeat?

Re:Human civilization fail (4, Informative)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073528)

Id at the time agreed to use some Creative sound technology in Doom 3 that they wouldn't have otherwise used in exchange for Creative not patent trolling Id over Carmack's Reverse being used in Doom 3.

Re:Human civilization fail (4, Informative)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 2 years ago | (#38074146)

Wait, you actually had to ask if Creative Labs got litigious? Creative Labs is the biggest offender in the goddamned industry. Augh, I'm still pissed about Aureal

Re:Human civilization fail (5, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073136)

If it makes you feel any better, the holder of this patent isn't strictly a patent troll; but Creative, world renowned for having not done a damn thing worth mentioning since the SoundBlaster, and somehow continuing to ship alarmingly priced cards in the face of shit that has the decency to be priced as such, from outfits like realtek, and genuinely decent hardware from companies that actually know something about audio...

Re:Human civilization fail (5, Interesting)

GReaToaK_2000 (217386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073402)

In addition if anyone remembers, there were plenty of issues between id, Creative and (wait for it) Gravis. Yes, for anyone old enough to remember those days, the UltraSound card by Gravis was the first wave table sound card and VASTLY superior to anything (non)Creative Labs ever put out.

id's support of the UltraSound card was a bone of contention for Creative and I can easily see that Creative would have a hair across their collective ass(ets) including something they (creative) might want to litigate for.

Re:Human civilization fail (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073614)

I remember very well - I followed the GUS to market on Usenet and preordered one before they came out. Despite a rough initial release, especially with driver issues and a lack of much native support (due to SB/ADLIB support in software only), it was still an incredible soundcard for it's time and I remember it very fondly.

Interestingly (and to bring this post back on topic), id Software were one of the first commercial game companies to provide support for the Gravis Ultrasound and as the parent points out it caused a fair amount of friction at the time. Bear in mind that this was back in the days of id's Doom - a smash hit that was single-handedly responsible for selling a crapton of ethernet cables, modems and routers due to the, novel and the time, 4 player networking support build in to the game. Native support of the Ultrasound (which sounded FAR FAR FAR better than the SoundBlaster) had the potential to sell a lot of sound hardware too, something Creative clearly felt threatened by.

Re:Human civilization fail (2)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073426)

" ship alarmingly priced cards in the face of shit that has the decency to be priced as such, from outfits like realtek, and genuinely decent hardware from companies that actually know something about audio..."

Their "alarmingly high priced" cards are your subjective perception and they are still miles better then most onboard solutions in terms of features and sound quality, volume and software features. I have yet to find a soundcard that comes with simple, easy to use and clean audio tools that you get with audigy card. Now I know you can download more advanced audio editing software but for quick and dirty stuff like "recording what you hear" through the wave channel from a movie/clip or off the internet it is a godsend. I still can't stand onboard motherboard audio after all these years because of the lack of software options and tweaking that I'm used to on audigy line of cards.

Re:Human civilization fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073920)

Holy crap. Creative labs, I havent heard that name in years,

Re:Human civilization fail (5, Insightful)

Nanosphere (1867972) | more than 2 years ago | (#38074064)

world renowned for having not done a damn thing worth mentioning since the SoundBlaster

Chronology of most tech companies:

-Genius Engineer develops tech
-Salesman buddy helps start company
-Product becomes sucessfull
-Salesman brings in more of his salesman/lawyer buddies to grow company
-Group of salesmen/lawyers push genius engineer to some obscure corner of the company
-Innovation slows to crawl or stops entirely
-Company floats for the next decade or two off litigation and anti-competitive licensing while salesmen/lawyers rake in $$
-Another genius engineer somewhere else develops better tech
-Company devoid of any innovation fades into obscurity

Re:Human civilization fail (5, Informative)

D'Arque Bishop (84624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073166)

It gets worse when you consider that (if I recall correctly), the patent was held by Creative Labs, and they waited until a month or two before the game was to be released to inform id of the patent. They essentially blackmailed id into putting EAX-specific features to avoid a lawsuit and delay the game's release.

Re:Human civilization fail (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073374)

Ahh...wrong. Completely wrong. Shouldn't expect a low-ID user like yourself to read the article, should I?

Carmack "independently" came up with the same methods that EAX cover when he was creating the engine for Doom 3, which means that Creative's process probably wasn't all that special to begin with (I mean, if someone can come up with it on their own with no reading, how unique is it). Creative's employees came up with EAX a few months before Carmack did. In exchange for not being sued for the patent violation, iD promoted Creative and EAX in their engine.

Obviously you didn't read correctly because what you described didn't actually _happen_. But then again, being a Slashdot veteran, I suppose you just heard the word patent and started salivating like a rapid dog, forming an opinion without any facts. I wouldn't expect anything less -- it's the reason most people have moved on to other sites. People like you.

Re:Human civilization fail (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073406)

You're literally retarded, aren't you?

Re:Human civilization fail (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38074046)

No, the GP is. (D'arque)

Re:Human civilization fail (0)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073440)

Well - to be fair, when I hear the word "patent" in any discussion remotely related to software, I have that rabid dog reaction. It's only natural for a relatively sane person to do so.

Re:Human civilization fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073646)

>-- But then again, being a Slashdot veteran, I suppose you just heard the word patent and started salivating like a rapid dog, forming an opinion without any facts. I wouldn't expect anything less -- it's the reason most people have moved on to other sites

Most people? But not you? Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
And by the way, it's rabid. Sheesh.

Re:Human civilization fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073706)

Yet clearly this is a case of a company gaining benefit from a patent when the other guy didn't even copy their idea but arrived at it entirely independently. This is the reason why people salivate like rabid dogs over patents. If the idea was so obvious that two different teams faced with the same problem come up with exactly the same solution within months of each other, there never should have been a patent in the first place, Creative should have had nothing to hold over iD.

Re:Human civilization fail (4, Insightful)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073796)

Independent invention should be a defense at the very least. It probably should be proof of "obviousness".

Re:Human civilization fail (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073848)

Do you know anything about anything? What exactly do you think EAX is? What exactly do you think Carmack's Reverse is? Lurk moar.

CAPTCHA: cruddy

Re:Human civilization fail (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38074172)

Oh, you fucking moron. We're not talking about EAX. We're talking about stencil shadow techniques. TFA doesn't even mention EAX, no doubt because EAX is an audio system. So everything you've written about EAX above is complete bullshit.

Re:Human civilization fail (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073534)

They didn't blackmail id, patent holders are required to attempt to protect their ip rights, or risk losing them.

Doesn't matter if you or him care about software patents, Creative owns the patent, there was reason to believe Carmack's implementation violated it, they offered a fair solution to show they were protecting their rights that saved id having to pay license fees, id accepted instead of fighting over it.

Re:Human civilization fail (2, Informative)

queequeg1 (180099) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073790)

No, trademark owners are required to protect their IP rights or risk losing them. The one possible exception in the patent world is submarine patents, but it doesn't sound like that sort of situation was present here.

Re:Human civilization fail (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073224)

Did you even read the story, much less the linked articles? No one is being sued right now. Also, the way the patent process works, your patent is pending from the day you submit it until it is rejected or approved. I don't see how the fact that the patent office needs time to research (and don't we normally criticize them for not researching thoroughly?) is relevant.

Re:Human civilization fail (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073430)

Because something that is inependently invented within a year of the filing date and before the patent is granted doesn't deserve patent protection.

Conceptually, it is clearly something obvious enough to those skilled in the field and thus not patent worthy. Practically, society has the invention there's no need to grant a temporary monopoly on it to someone in exchange for them publishing it.

Re:Human civilization fail (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073602)

Because something that is inependently invented within a year of the filing date and before the patent is granted doesn't deserve patent protection.

I don't see anything in the patent act that says that patents are only granted to inventions that are "deserving". Do you have a citation?

Conceptually, it is clearly something obvious enough to those skilled in the field and thus not patent worthy.

[Citation needed]. How do you know that the second inventor didn't spend months and months working hard to come up with the idea? The mere fact that it's possible that two people can both eventually, through hard work, come up with the same solution doesn't mean the solution is obvious - it means we have two smart people.

Additionally, your interpretation is directly counter to the statute. Look up 35 USC 102(g), which explicitly describes what happens when two people independently invent the same thing and both apply for a patent - hint: the answer is not that the invention is obvious and both applications are rejected.
While the interference process has gone away under the new patent reform act, that's merely because they simplified the process. It still doesn't mean that the invention is legally obvious and therefore unpatentable.

Practically, society has the invention there's no need to grant a temporary monopoly on it to someone in exchange for them publishing it.

Not at all... In fact, as noted, the second inventor may have spent months and months to come up with the solution. If the first inventor published early, then the second inventor wouldn't have to have wasted his time. Society has lost due to the wasted time and money that could have been better spent on the next invention.

Re:Human civilization fail (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38074030)

I don't see anything in the patent act that says that patents are only granted to inventions that are "deserving". Do you have a citation?

Non-obviousness, you know one of the patent criteria.

Citation needed]. How do you know that the second inventor didn't spend months and months working hard to come up with the idea? The mere fact that it's possible that two people can both eventually, through hard work, come up with the same solution doesn't mean the solution is obvious - it means we have two smart people.

That one didn't apply for a patent might be some indication. That it's a simple tweak to an existing algorithm might be another.

Additionally, your interpretation is directly counter to the statute. Look up 35 USC 102(g), which explicitly describes what happens when two people independently invent the same thing and both apply for a patent - hint: the answer is not that the invention is obvious and both applications are rejected.

Given the problems the patent system has I don't think the statute matters that much when discussing "human civilization fail". Whether something is working the way the law says it should is irrelevant to discussions of whether the system is good for society.

Not at all... In fact, as noted, the second inventor may have spent months and months to come up with the solution. If the first inventor published early, then the second inventor wouldn't have to have wasted his time. Society has lost due to the wasted time and money that could have been better spent on the next invention.

Who cares? It's a sunk cost. That the patent system didn't prevent that cost from happening is just further indication that the system isn't doing the job of promoting progress.

Re:Human civilization fail (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073958)

Because something that is inependently invented within a year of the filing date and before the patent is granted doesn't deserve patent protection.

Conceptually, it is clearly something obvious enough to those skilled in the field and thus not patent worthy. Practically, society has the invention there's no need to grant a temporary monopoly on it to someone in exchange for them publishing it.

If you had that exception there would be a can of worms. How many people would claim to have invented something even if they had seen "patent pending" the example?

Re:Human civilization fail (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073306)

And this helps innovation somehow?

Oh no, not at all. This helps the rich get richer. What, you thought government was looking out for you?

Re:Human civilization fail (3, Insightful)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073308)

Do you like shadow boxing?
you do?
Oh good!
Fight a patent troll in court, win, and the judge will order the troll to pay all legal expenses. And like that, poof. He's gone! (And your company is lumbered with all the legal costs). Sadly it's normally just cheaper to comply, no matter how much evidence of prior art you have.

A few years ago we used to have conferences where people would actually detail how the technical aspects of their games worked. These days a patent troll would be at the back of the conference, and would have submitted a patent application before the speaker had even finished presenting. It's no wonder that companies are so unwilling to let their employees write papers these days :(

John Carmack on Software Patents (5, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073480)

"The idea that I can be presented with a problem, set out to logically solve it with the tools at hand, and wind up with a program that could not be legally used because someone else followed the same logical steps some years ago and filed for a patent on it is horrifying." - John Carmack

Can a developer explain this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073112)

My understanding is that Carmack independently discovered the method AFTER the patent was filed, but before it was granted (public). Wouldn't his implementation of the method be patentable itself? Why does it need to be re-written? Also, if the Carmack version of the method was made public before the original discovery patent was accepted doesn't that make the method un-patentable too? Seems both the original discovery team and Carmack would have independent methods that accomplish the same thing...why would there be a violation?

Re:Can a developer explain this? (3, Informative)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073188)

For patents, the filing date is what counts in this scenario. The one to file first "wins". There's more to it, IIRC, as you can claim priority on public disclosures and foreign patents. So if you publish something in a scientific journal, say, you have a year to file a patent for it, and your invention is protected retroactively since the publication date in the journal. Someone who knows U.S. patent law better feel free to chime in with corrections, I'm not 100% sure about it. I'll ask a patent lawyer at work to see if he has anything to add to that.

Re:Can a developer explain this? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073284)

I think it's actually the reverse, at least currently. I believe the US is currently a first to invent system. However, there is legislation that is either going to be passed or may have just been passed recently that changes it to first to file as you described.

I'm not sure how that would apply retroactively, though, nor am I sure what date such a change would take effect if it has already been passed.

Re:Can a developer explain this? (3, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073204)

The key is the scope of the claims in the patent, which is what defines what the patent covers and doesn't cover. Claims are not code, so they can cover multiple specific implementations of an invention.

As for Carmack's work as prior art, it would only count if it were published (or on public use or sale in the US) more than a year before the filing date of the patent (or less than a year if the patentee can't show that they had invented it before said publication/use). In any event, prior art on or after the filing date of a patent isn't actually "prior".

Re:Can a developer explain this? (2)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073424)

The problem is that due to the way patent law works in America, someone would have to be sued for infringement, then fight it in court, and win. You (generally) can't preemptively sue for an ironclad declaration of non-infringement. AFAIK, there IS a process for seeking a judgment that your use is non-infringing, but the barrier and risk is VERY high; if you lose, it's considered authoritative proof of intentional infringement if you do it anyway (and thus subject to treble damages), and if you win, you can STILL lose a later lawsuit for infringement... it just demonstrates that you made a good-faith effort to not infringe, and therefore should not be subject to treble damages. In other words, heads they win, tails you probably still lose anyway.

Another thing to remember is that you can patent a specific novel implementation of something covered by a broader patent, but it doesn't invalidate the broader patent. It just means that if somebody does the patented thing the specific way YOU patented, you can get in line behind the original patent owner and sue for infringement as well. However, a license from you would not recursively grant a license to the broader patent. In an ideal universe, there would be a fair, objective, tech-savvy arbiter who could look at the broader patent, your patent, and say, "The broader patent has merit, but your patent is what really gives it 99% of its value, so we'll allow you to license your patent, then mail a check for 1% of the amount to the owner of the broader patent & tell him to have a nice day." Unfortunately, the way it works in the real world is that the holder of the broader patent has veto power over the whole transaction, and by the time everything is said and done, you'lll be lucky to end up with the table scraps and crumbs. It's a serious shortcoming of American patent law, and unfortunately it's something that nobody has ever really come up with a good, objective, and fair way to fix.

About the software patent-- IBTT (4, Interesting)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073138)

This time, the pages linked from the story are very helpful. Carmack independently discovered the algorithm a few months after Creative's employees. They properly patented the process. I'm not sure how it escaped litigation this long; Carmack's lawyers were right to question this issue before the code release.
This has all been above-board WRT Creative. It merely raises the question again as to whether patents should last over 10 years, or whether patents should be issued for software in the first place.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (4, Informative)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073168)

It escaped litigation because id made a deal with creative to promote creative hardware within Doom 3 in exchange for not getting sued.

Presumably that deal didn't include releasing the source at some point.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (5, Insightful)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073266)

or whether patents should be issued for software in the first place.

I really gotta say, in cases like this it seems so insanely obvious that this should NOT be patent-able. Someone else came up with the EXACT same technique very shortly thereafter or simultaneously, without reading your patent or any of your work? If it really is just an incremental update, nothing novel but taking existing ideas and tying them together, it seems the opposite of innovative; it seems to me this algorithm was inevitable. If not these people, somebody would have very shortly thereafter discovered it. So why do we make such a big deal about who got there first? How does forcing everybody to licence a technology from that person that they could feasibly develop on their own, Chinese clean-room style, HELP innovation?

It doesn't. Software patents do not help. They hurt. Companies like Microsoft buy tons of patents from college kids for pennies and then sit on them with no intention of actually using the patent described, just so they can litigate or strong-arm other companies into paying fees. Free money! This actually HELPS monopolies (I know ragging on MS is the oldest joke in the /. book, but seriously, they're doing some real harm to the industry. Its not just MS, but they're a big nasty troll right now, and they have enough money they shouldn't need to resort to tactics like this.)

I mean, think about it. Carmack developed this algorithm. Now he's trying to open source it and share it with the world for free. AND A PATENT IS PREVENTING THIS. Show me how patents "help protect innovation and creativity." This is so backwards it hurts.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (1, Flamebait)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073328)

Yeah, he 'independently' invented it, just a couple of months after it was presented at a conference that he no doubt would have heard about it from.

Sure.

Sounds exactly like the kind of abuse the patent system was designed to prevent to me.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (2)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073530)

Do you have a citation on it being presented at a conference? From TFA, "John Carmack had independently conceived a similar algorithm to what's covered by the patent, which he created in the year 2000 while working on Doom 3. " Thats all it says. Other pages mention that it is known as "Carmack's Reverse" because HE popularized the technique at a conference. So, which was it?

My problem isn't that he may or may not have stolen it. My problem is it really doesn't matter. Looking over this algorithm, I feel like any software engineer tasked with improving the speed of drawing shadow volumes with stencils would eventually consider this as a potential solution. Its inherent to the design space, and its not all that groundbreaking or genius. Its just taking existing software concepts and applying them. You shouldn't get ownership of an algorithm just because you used it first. Software can be reduced to lambda calculus, and mathematical formula are not patent-able. Software algorithms shouldn't be either.

I'm not saying you can't have a copyright licence on your software. Go ahead. Its just the idea that nobody else can even use that ALGORITHM that bothers me. If people steal your source code, then by all means you should be protected.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073652)

The Wikipedia article states:

William Bilodeau and Michael Songy discovered this technique in October 1998, and presented the technique at Creativity, a Creative Labs developer's conference, in 1999.[2] Sim Dietrich presented this technique at a Creative Labs developer's forum in 1999.

So, it was presented at a conference a year before Carmack invented it. That said, it looks like a fairly straightforward and relatively obvious modification of an existing algorithm. If the patent office required patents to be reviewed by domain experts, it would have been rejected.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073794)

Ah, yeah. appreciate the quote, trying to get concrete details rather than here-say. I guess it was called "Carmack's Reverse" because he's like a half-celebrity. We still don't know if he was at that conference of if he spoke to someone who did, but there is certainly reasonable doubt. However,

That said, it looks like a fairly straightforward and relatively obvious modification of an existing algorithm. If the patent office required patents to be reviewed by domain experts, it would have been rejected.

Yeah, thats my thought exactly. :)

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073708)

Someone else pointed out the presentation at a conference for me. So I'll just respond to the other portion.

I don't believe there should be patents on anything at all. If we are going to have them at all, this seems like a perfectly valid one. It obviously wasn't 'obvious' or someone should have come up with the optimization years earlier.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (2)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073954)

That is stupid. You don't come up with a better steam engine before the steam engine. At the time people were only just starting to do real time shadows in games. There was no reason to develop it before then. However once more that one person has a need to improve things and they come up with the *same* algorithm at roughly the same time... Well its pretty bloody obvious. We are not all retards waiting for lawyers to define obvious.

Even if you think this particular instance of independent invention is flawed, there is plenty more examples. When the problem arises and different people come up with the same solution, why should all but one be denied the benefit of their hard work?

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38074020)

It obviously wasn't 'obvious' or someone should have come up with the optimization years earlier.

When, before computers existed? Obviously some conditions are necessary before anybody cares about this, you need real-time rendering to be a big deal that is commonly used, you need shadow volumes to matter and be feasible to calculate in real-time, so that means you need advanced 3D gaming to be a big deal, and you need video card hardware that can handle the rendering (so this really would have appealed to nobody pre late 90s, aka, exactly when it was developed. Huh.)

The idea that Archimedes would have written an algorithm on shadow volumes is laughable. That does not make fast rendering shadow volumes genius or groundbreaking.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073688)

Yeah, he 'independently' invented it, just a couple of months after it was presented at a conference that he no doubt would have heard about it from.

Sure.

Sounds exactly like the kind of abuse the patent system was designed to prevent to me.

'Independently implemented' is a far more apt description. Independently creating a functional implementation of concept that has been loosely described does not / would not infringe the copyrights(which are all the protection software needs) of said loosely described implementation, and I'm hard pressed to considered it an abuse of any kind.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073764)

Sure, if you want to throw out patents entirely, that's fine with me. If you believe they should exist, only then do I argue that this is a perfectly legitimate use of them.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073894)

It's a patent on math, like all algorithm patents. The patent system at one time didn't allow patents on math. Why did we change that?

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073912)

Because the businesses who fund the courts wanted it that way.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (1)

The Moof (859402) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073552)

Carmack developed this algorithm

No, no he did not. William Bilodeau and Michael Songy developed this algorithm 2 years before Carmack recreated it. The fact that this method was being presented at Creative's developer conferences a year before Carmack invented it also doesn't help the credibility of his independent discover claim. Since there's no hard evidence, it would become a Carmack's word versus Creative's if anyone takes action, and with the timeline of invention/presentation of the technique, I would be inclined to side with Creative.

Of course, this is all hypothetical since id/Bethesda's lawyers are the ones telling him to rewrite that part of the code, and Creative hasn't actually done anything.

(For the record, I'm against software patents, I'm just speculating about how it would play out.)

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073636)

Oh, I know. I agree. I'm talking theoretical here, what should be, rather than what is.
Certainly he should cover his ass here, they did it first, they got the patent successfully, and yeah, his own lawyers are saying rewrite it, so he's rewriting it. As the law currently is, he wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

I'm just saying that, as a software developer, this scares the shit out of me.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073746)

Well, consider if the patent is the "prize" and compare it to the X-prize foundation. You can't assume that just because multiple competitors came up with nearly the same solution but one nabbed the prize slightly before the others that this was just about to happen anyway. Maybe not Carmack himself, but I'm pretty sure someone over there values their IP portfolio and that's part of the reason they get paid. That's what patents do, create a scramble to invent as fast as possible and run to the patent office. The downside is of course that the innovation is locked up in a patent the next 20 years. You can argue that this is wrong but that's roughly the way it's worked since Edison and Bell, there's nothing special related to software here.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (4, Insightful)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073980)

That's what patents do, create a scramble to invent as fast as possible and run to the patent office. The downside is of course that the innovation is locked up in a patent the next 20 years. You can argue that this is wrong but that's roughly the way it's worked since Edison and Bell, there's nothing special related to software here.

The "scramble" you speak of isn't worth the cost of locking out algorithms for 20 years. People are already "scrambling" on their own, making good software and selling it is plenty incentive already. Having a copyright on the software is good enough. You can get out first, you can get market recognition, you don't need to have a monopoly on the underlying algorithm. Its massive overkill that is going to hamstring development and turn companies like Microsoft into patent trolls that don't produce anything of their own. They now make more money from Android fees and litigation than they do from Windows Phone.

There is something special related to software. Algorithms can be converted to lambda calculus; they are mathematical formula. Mathematical formula are exempt from patentability for a reason; they are not your own creative solution, but rather exist inherent to the universe, they are part of the space we all exist in, and you are merely describing a method, not creating a work of art or a novel invention.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073788)

I mean, think about it. Carmack developed this algorithm. Now he's trying to open source it and share it with the world for free. AND A PATENT IS PREVENTING THIS. Show me how patents "help protect innovation and creativity." This is so backwards it hurts.

Under the conditions of obtaining a patent, Creative has already released all the details necessary to reproduce the process/algorithm/whatever. So the whole notion of "this is preventing the information from getting out to the public" is wrong. It's already on public record.

Patents "help protect innovation and creativity", because one has to release the details about how to do whatever it is that they're patenting. Once the patent ends, anyone can pull up the patent information and reproduce it. The process won't go to anyone's grave, nor will it forever remain a secret. It's already public record before they even get the papers granting the patent.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073914)

Under the conditions of obtaining a patent, Creative has already released all the details necessary to reproduce the process/algorithm/whatever. So the whole notion of "this is preventing the information from getting out to the public" is wrong. It's already on public record.

Yes, of course. I can go read it, and find out how to reproduce it, but then I can't actually USE it unless Creative says I can. However, if I was able to come up with it on my own, without their help, I still wouldn't be able to use it without their permission.

Yes, I understand the basic theory on how patents work. When it comes to software algorithms I reject that answer and I feel it does more harm than good.

"Public record" Doesn't matter. Oh look, we can go read the algorithm! How fun! Uh, unless you can use it, that is useless. And you're at Creative's mercy.
What matters is if I can write the app I thought of and sell it for a few bucks on the app store without getting my pants sued off.

Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073990)

I really gotta say, in cases like this it seems so insanely obvious that this should NOT be patent-able. Someone else came up with the EXACT same technique very shortly thereafter or simultaneously, without reading your patent or any of your work?

1. So? Maybe you were working for months and months to come up with the technique, and maybe they were also working for months and months to come up with the technique. Independent invention doesn't say anything about whether the idea is obvious - it merely means that two people were working on it simultaneously.
Dozens of pharma companies are working on a cure for cancer right now, and have been for decades. If two of them happen to finish their research and come up with a successful idea at roughly the same time, you're saying a cancer-curing drug is "obvious"?

2. Both the patent act prior to the AIA and the newly reformed statutes include procedures for what to do when two inventors independently invent and apply for the same patent... and the answer is not "neither gets it". Congress certainly doesn't think that it's obvious.

3. If the first guy publishes, then the second guy doesn't have to waste his time working on the same thing. So Carmack independently came up with the same idea, months and months later? That's a lot of wasted effort. He could've been working on the next technique, rather than duplicating the same work of the first guy. Patents, by encouraging public disclosure, reduce this amount of wasted effort and thus encourage innovation.

buen post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073144)

buen post.

Props to Mr. Carmack (5, Interesting)

Xeleema (453073) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073220)

I realize there may be a financial incentive for rewriting what is no doubt a fair chunk of one of the key "selling points" of the DOOM 3 engine, however I'm glad to see that this is being done so the source can be released *publically*. Even if not much comes from it, I personally enjoy going over the code released from id Software...it's like going and in time and watching Da Vinci with a hammer and chisel.

(Yes, yes "Carmack's no Da Vinci", but he is as close to one as most Programmer's can get.)

Re:Props to Mr. Carmack (0)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073294)

That said, TONS of open-source projects were started using the Quake 3 source code, so I don't see how at least something won't come from this.
Have you seen Cube or Sauerbraten or Warsow?

Re:Props to Mr. Carmack (2)

Narishma (822073) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073388)

Just FYI, none of those games you mentioned use or are based on Quake 3's source code. Warsow is based on QFusion, a modified Quake 2 engine and Cube and Sauerbraten used their own engines developed from scratch.

Re:Props to Mr. Carmack (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073458)

You're right, warsow is Quake2. My bad! Still, proves that something comes from open sourced Id technology, proves the point, just older :P And snap, you're also right, cube is its own engine. I guess I was looking at open source engines awhile back and got it confused? Thanks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Id_Tech_3#Uses_of_the_engine [wikipedia.org] Actual examples of the open sourced quake 3 code:
ioquake, urban terror, temulous

Re:Props to Mr. Carmack (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073422)

Yah but, let's see Da Vinci's impaled head take more than one or two blasts of rocket splash damage without being reduced to gibs. We KNOW where Carmack's cranium stacks up in that test.

Saw this coming.. (5, Interesting)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073264)

I sent John Carmack an email about this back in April 2009:

Hi John,

I believe you've said publicly that you are planning a GPL release of the Doom 3 source code, but I remember around the time the game was launched you had Creative holding a patent on the shadows algorithm, and you assuaged them by including support for EAX. Is that still causing problems?

-Dave

When we release the code (no date set), anyone that uses it would potentially be infringing. There are workarounds at a modest performance cost.

John Carmack

It sounds like id's lawyers are asking him to implement one of the workarounds he mentioned before he makes the public release.

Re:Saw this coming.. Performance won't be noticed (2)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 2 years ago | (#38074022)

And at the same time, "modest performance cost" is probably negligable at this point. Doom 3 was released in 2005 according to wiki, and via Steam in 2007. While the margin of improvement has slowed, systems will be quite a bit beefier by the time it is released. And when open source takes hold of it and makes derivative games (I mean that in a good way) the hardware will be able to compensate.

Remember, this patent is for a speed hack, which is generally useful for about 5 years max in computer land. The speedier algorithm of Phil Katz's pkzip over other libraries largely disappeared due to the i/o bottleneck by the time open versions were widely used. Today, it's faster in most cases to have a file zipped on disk, and unzipped while being read into memory (if async i/o is used of course, and even if not the overhead is still a tiny part of the operation).

What's the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073386)

If it's his patent, then under GPL3, anyone using his patent can do so without license ONLY IF they GPL3 their code.

What, then, is the problem? If Jon's listening and this gets modded up, maybe he can consider the problem in a light not driven by accountants (where every lost opportunity to profit is counted a concrete loss of revenue).

Re:What's the problem? (2)

acoster (812556) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073428)

Problem is - it's not his patent, but Creative's. Turns out that he independently reached the same algorithm as they did, and iD "licensed" it when they used EAX.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073812)

What acoster said - it's not Carmack's patent. It's only referred to as Carmack's Reverse because he discovered the technique after the patent was filed but before it was granted and spoke about how he'd solved the problem publicly, he still had to come to a licensing agreement with Creative at the time to be able to use it.

John Carmack is a class act (5, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073450)

So Carmack is doing something for the good of society, and a commercial company chooses to add a roadblock. But rather than give up, he spends his own time to rewrite the algorithm in a way that avoids the patent. That is a phenomenal level of dedication to the open-source community. He doesn't have to release the code. He doesn't have to rewrite that section.

Thank you John.

Re:John Carmack is a class act (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073598)

+5 Corny.

Re:John Carmack is a class act (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073624)

This almost makes up for Resurrection of Evil.

Almost.

Re:John Carmack is a class act (2)

DavoMan (759653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073974)

we have a high profile dev team going out of their way to release a AAA game as open source, and you give them crap? come on. get off the internet.

Re:John Carmack is a class act (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073720)

Yeah. Releasing Doom 3 as open source is about as selfless as letting the public help itself to a glassful of toxic waste.

Re:John Carmack is a class act (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073838)

Well if I had the money he does I would do the same thing. It's not like I'm going to miss paying my bills because I'm dicking around on some old project.

I agree he is a class act but really it's just that he loves programming. However, most people can't afford to take large amount of time off to screw around on what are essentially personal things.

Re:John Carmack is a class act (2)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073846)

Not to take anything away from Carmack's contribution here, it's a great thing he's doing, but I don't think Creative have thrown up a roadblock just yet. He's just not giving them that option by rewriting the problematic code, perhaps they wouldn't have cared but he obviously thought better safe than sorry - kudos to him for that, but yah boo sucks to the system that makes it necessary.

Re:John Carmack is a class act (2)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073962)

Not to mention that I thought when Bethesda/Zenimax bought out iD, they said iD would never again release an engine as open source.

I suspect that Carmack has had to fight considerably to make this happen.

Rewrite blocked by another patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073568)

I hope that what he writes doesn't conflict with another patent elseware.

Well, this is crappy... (1)

FreonTrip (694097) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073596)

...but on the bright side, Carmack's Reverse can always be reimplemented by the open source community, and this may hasten the implementation of shadowmaps in source ports to replace Doom 3's stencil shadows. The visual quality improvement would be non-trivial, and for all but hardware that was *ahem* not exactly groundbreaking when Doom 3 was new, the performance delta shouldn't be too massive. In some scenarios it may even be faster.

a simple solution (1)

Bobtree (105901) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073640)

Just remove it. While it was a clever optimization for its time, on current hardware it is unnecessary.

This is what JC's tweet suggests he is doing, not re-writing it.

Re:a simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073770)

On current MOBILE hardware is unnecessary?

Re:a simple solution (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 2 years ago | (#38074006)

Just remove it. While it was a clever optimization for its time, on current hardware it is unnecessary.

This is what JC's tweet suggests he is doing, not re-writing it.

I'm not sure how you come to that conclusion, since writing new code isn't the same as just removing code.

The tweet in question (emphasis mine): "Lawyers are still skittish about the patent issue around "Carmack's reverse", so I am going to write some new code for the doom3 release."

Well, I guess I'll have to buy it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073664)

Because I'm sure they won't release the art to the public, and it'll take a while for some public versions to be generated.

I swear I bought Quake 4, but I don't know where it is, or what engine it uses. Ah, Doom 3. Hopefully it'll be compatible, so that'll just leave the problem of finding out where I put the box.

I installed it once, then forgot about it. I'm not entirely sure it's even Quake 4, but I don't think it was Quake III.

HERO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38073672)

It amazes me that very few people mention what the news is really about: Carmark is a true HERO.

this is an amazing thing for Id/Carmack to do (5, Insightful)

DavoMan (759653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073678)

This is an amazing gift to the FOSS community. Not only are they just deciding to give away code they don't use anymore - but they are putting SERIOUS EFFORT into making it safe to release to the community. This shows without a shadow of a doubt that Id Software are GOOD GUYS. We need to give these guys our thanks.

Yet again... (0)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073680)

someone got a patent on mathematics... it's an algorithm for deity's sake... it can be reduced to pure mathematical expressions...

Re:Yet again... (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38074122)

Its worse then that ...

RSA patent filed on December 14, 1977, approved as #4,405,829 titled "Cryptographic Communications System and Method" to MIT, Rivest, Shamir, and Adelman. However, since it was published before the patent application, it could not be patented under European and Japanese law.

Seriously, how the fuck do you patent a NUMBER ???

http://www.langston.com/Fun_People/1995/1995AYU.html [langston.com]

THIS (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073882)

This is why I love id software, even though I'll admit their games may not be as great as some of the other companies' offerings. The fact that Carmack is going through the trouble of working around a potential patent issue all to open source their Tech 4 engine is awesome.

Why rewrite it? (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | more than 2 years ago | (#38073948)

Remove the infringing code save for function stubs, document the expected behavior (perhaps with some examples of input/return values useable for test-driven design) and let the community rewrite it. id doesn't have to worry about releasing patent-infringing code, and the community gets a chance to come up with a better solution.

THANK YOU John Carmack :-) This is awsome. (1)

sir lox elroy (735636) | more than 2 years ago | (#38074150)

This is a great show by Mr. Carmack. To take the time to actually rewrite it himself so that there is no patent issues. I think everyone should send him a Thank You note. He could have just as easily said "I have made my money off this who cares." But he is thinking of the Open Source community instead of his pocket book alone.
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