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Graphics Rendering Patent Suits Target Apple, Samsung, HTC, RIM, LG and Sony

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the i-invented-the-pixel dept.

Patents 159

angry tapir writes "Formerly known as Silicon Graphics, Graphics Properties Holdings has filed six separate patent cases against Apple, Samsung, Research In Motion, HTC, Sony and LG with the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The patent at issue in the lawsuits relates to floating point calculations to render graphics, and is registered as patent number 8,144,158 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office."

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Talk about obvious and non-patentable (2)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494325)

An array of 16 bit floating point numbers as pixel elements? That's not innovative in any universe.

An cue the standard reply (5, Insightful)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494367)

You've only read the damn abstract haven't you?

How many times do people have to say READ THE CLAIMS before it sinks in that the abstract normally only gives an example and the patents claims normally go far beyond that. In some patents the abstract comes close to being completely misleading. Incidentally the claims are not restricted to 16 bit floating point representations or any other size of floating point accuracy, plus it's a continuation of other patents, so don't forget to read their claims too.

Re:An cue the standard reply (5, Informative)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494383)

As I said: "SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a display system and process whereby the geometry, rasterization, and frame buffer predominately operate on a floating point format. Vertex information associated with geometric calculations are specified in a floating point format. Attributes associated with pixels and fragments are defined in a floating point format. In particular, all color values exist as floating point format. Furthermore, certain rasterization processes are performed according to a floating point format. Specifically, the scan conversion process is now handled entirely on a floating point basis. Texturing, fog, and antialiasing all operate on floating point numbers. The texture map stores floating point texel values. The resulting data are read from, operated on, written to and stored in the frame buffer using floating point formats, thereby enabling subsequent graphics operations to be performed directly on the frame buffer data without any loss of accuracy.

Many different types of floating point formats exist and can be used to practice the present invention. However, it has been discovered that one floating point format, known as "s10e5," has been found to be particularly optimal when applied to various aspects of graphical computations. As such, it is used extensively throughout the geometric, rasterization and frame buffer processes of the present invention. To optimize the range and precision of the data in the geometry, rasterization, and frame buffer processes, this particular s10e5 floating point format imposes a 16-bit format which provides one sign bit, ten mantissa bits, and five exponent bits. In another embodiment, a 17-bit floating point format designated as "s11e5" is specified to maintain consistency and ease of use with applications that uses 12 bits of mantissa. Other formats may be used in accordance with the present invention depending on the application and the desired range and precision."

Nothing innovative about using floating point arrays for a pixel element frame buffer nor for operating on the pixels with various algorithms. Not patentable.

Re:An cue the standard reply (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494495)

So...they've patented a particular combination of mantissa/exponent size for floating point numbers?

Exactly how low can the patent office go?

Re:An cue the standard reply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494715)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it would appear this is a continuation on other patents, with the original being filed in 1993.

So tell me, twenty years ago was this obvious to any of the users here? Or is it obvious now only because they "invented" it?

Re:An cue the standard reply (4, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495059)

If someone told me "we need a system that can faithfully render analog reality on a digital display device" I would naturally assume, as we all have been doing for centuries, that we would need to approximate color and location as closely and as accurately as possible. The word "accurately" seems to require the use of floating point numbers.

So, I tend to think it's obvious even back then. That "pong" did not look like a real ping-pong table with a real ball and a real paddle was not a problem of imagination, but one of technology not having advanced far enough yet. The use of floating point math in generating display information has been in practice for a very long time and if you were to include students making graphs based on math which uses floating point numbers, then you can go back much further.

These "on a computer" patents are crap just as much as "on the internet" patents and "with a can opener attachment added" patents are.

What they have patented is a "system or process" (software) which models what people have been doing for a long, long time. Sorry, but I just don't think that's a good basis for a patent. Invent something that people CAN'T do and you've got a patent.

Well Said. (1)

jmactacular (1755734) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495441)

Agree completely.

Re:An cue the standard reply (4, Funny)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496303)

Round corners©

Re:An cue the standard reply (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496739)

I don't even know if you need to go that far. IANAPL but the patent seems to shoot itself in the foot, both by claiming people already do floating point rasterization in software, and by pointing out how the industry is waiting with bated breath for chip prices to come down enough for hw floating point rasterization.

Hence isn't that an obvious next step for someone "knowledgeable in the field" or however that is phrased?

Re:An cue the standard reply (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496015)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it would appear this is a continuation on other patents, with the original being filed in 1993.

So tell me, twenty years ago was this obvious to any of the users here? Or is it obvious now only because they "invented" it?

I wrote assembly code for working with 16-bit floats on the Atari ST back in the 1980s. I don't remember the exact number of bits in mantissa/exponent but it's just a case of picking something that works for for whatever it is you're doing.

For use in frame buffers? It's pretty damn obvious IMHO...everybody in the entire graphics industry has always known that 8 bits is only just good enough to represent color for the human eye. Many workstations had more bits and you even used to be able to buy PC graphics cards with 10-bit color (Matrox Parhelia range).

So yes, it's obvious to anybody in the trade. The only reason for not doing it since day one was price.

Re:An cue the standard reply (1)

macshit (157376) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496373)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it would appear this is a continuation on other patents, with the original being filed in 1993.

So tell me, twenty years ago was this obvious to any of the users here? Or is it obvious now only because they "invented" it?

No it's not "only obvious because they invented it." They didn't "invent" anything, as it's an utterly straight-forward (as in it basically duplicates other IEEE FP formats) application of long established practice with different (but "obvious") parameters.

Sure it's a good idea to do that—but you can't patent "good ideas," remember? Oh wait, with today's new "income oriented" patent office you can...

[And that's the problem with many other idiotic patents these days—they're basically "existing technique, only in green!"]

Previously sued ATI (2)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494789)

This isn't the first time SGI has sued over these type of patents, see Slashdot 2006, [slashdot.org] and the 2010 ruling in SILICON GRAPHICS V ATI TECHNOLOGIES [findlaw.com]

Re:Previously sued ATI (5, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494823)

Here's an interesting article from Nov 2010 Embattled Silicon Graphics Portfolio Now On The Warpath [gametimeip.com]

Yesterday, thanks to PriorSmart‘s Daily Litigation Alerts, I noticed Dell, HP and Lenovo all targeted in the same Delaware patent lawsuit by Graphics Properties Holdings, Inc. The titles of the two patents at issue were both “Display system having floating point rasterization and floating point framebuffering” (6,650,327 and 7,518,615). It sounded a bit familiar, so after a little searching, I found out that, sure enough, just a few days before the same company filed suit on the same 2 patents against Apple, Nintendo, Sony, Toshiba and Acer in the Southern District of New York. That said, I still wasn’t satisfied that I had correctly identified the source of my recollection. (You don’t often forget a term like “rasterization.”)

After a little more searching, I came across an older case, Silicon Graphics v. ATI Technologies, which had gone to trial in Madison, Wisconsin in 2008. The case was a close to a total loss for SGI, with Judge Barbara Crabb ruling that co-defendants ATI and AMD did not infringe the ’327 Patent, and that both defendants were authorized for certain uses under a license to Microsoft. So why are these new lawsuits being filed, and who is Graphics Properties Holdings? Graphics Properties is essentially what’s left of SGI after filing bankruptcy last year. (That’s right, again.) As for why these former SGI patents are now being asserted again, a court of appeals decision from earlier this year may help explain. Chief Judge Rader, in a unanimous opinion, undid just about everything that Judge Crabb had done.

Because the district court erroneously construed two of the three contested limitations in the ’327 patent this court vacates the summary judgment on claims with those terms. This court also determines that the district court erred with respect to the effect of the Microsoft license on direct infringement. * * *

[As a result,]this court vacates the district court’s non-infringement ruling and remands for consideration in light of the correct construction.

In other words, because Judge Crabb misinterpreted the meaning of critical terms in the patent, the ultimate conclusion of non-infringement was incorrect. Specifically, the phrase “a rasterization process which operates on a floating point format” was interpreted by Judge Crabb as requiring that the process “as a whole” needs to operate on a floating point format. It was undisputed that the accused products performed some rasterization processes on a floating point format, but others using fixed point values. Based on this construction, Judge Crabb (correctly) concluded that the accused products did not exactly match the claimed invention.

However, on appeal, Judge Rader noted that the specification recites a number of different rasterization processes, and that the patent claim uses the indefinite article a when describing rasterization on a floating point format. The correct construction, according to Judge Rader, is that “one or more of the rasterization processes (e.g., scan conversion, color, texture, fog, shading) operate on a floating point format.” Because it was also admitted that some of the rasterization process did use a floating point format, a judge simply can’t deny the patent holder its opportunity to prove infringement of the patent to the jury.

The contrast between these two constructions is dramatic, as potential design around opportunities for Judge Crabb’s narrower interpretation are significantly easier than for Judge Rader’s broader construction. Having emerged from this first battle with a broader interpretation of the patent claims, Graphics Properties has apparently decided to turn up the heat and pursue an even broader class of targets, including PC and game console manufacturers, and to do it on multiple fronts.

Re:An cue the standard reply (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494527)

By that logic, SGI should have sued Intel for allowing any software-based 3D game to be written using their CPU's.

Re:An cue the standard reply (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494557)

Again, the summary is very pretty, and may even help someone with 'ordinary skill in the art' in creating an implementation of the patent, but it *isn't* part of the patent claims, and is therefore irrelevant as far as whether determining someone has infringed or not.

The actual claims place no reliance on any particular fixed or floating point implementation. Outside of the claims, the only way any such restrictions would exist would be if SGI had accepted such restrictions in dialogue with the Patent Office in getting the patent.

In other words if anyone else has done an implementation with 32,64 or any other number of bits, then they've infringed (unless the patent is invalidated or shown not to apply in some other way)

Re:An cue the standard reply (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496455)

Here's the abstract! Look at how unpatentable it is!

You have to read the claims. Not just the abstract, but the claims.

Oh, yeah? Here's the summary! Look at how unpatentable it is!

Once more... The claims - they're the numbered paragraphs starting a few pages before the abstract. Only the claims have any legal weight. The rest - including the summary you quoted - is merely to provide context.

Re:An cue the standard reply (5, Insightful)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494403)

But I read the claims and they are ludicrous. They basically state if you implement/use math in a specific manner, you are owned by us. And that is besides the obviousness to use floating point instead of integer/fixpoint (actually, integer and fixpoint approximations were created to overcome slow hardware). Once hardware is fast enough, you most often move to the more precise solution; there is nothing inventive about that, but a natural evolution.

Actually it's hardware+floating point (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494499)

Actually it's dedicated hardware plus floating point is their claim. Floating point with rendering was pre-existing (the fixed point arithmetic they did away with was a way of speeding that up).

So in essence they patented doing what was done before only on hardware not intended to do other stuff.

Pity they couldn't find a market, but patent trolling adds nothing of value to society and just adds an economic burden on the viable companies.

Re:Actually it's hardware+floating point (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495179)

They couldn't find a market? SGI was a huge player for many years 1981-1999 they were usually the 2nd or 3rd biggest workstation company in the USA. I used to joke about Apple during the 10.2-10.4 days "bringing SGI technology to the masses".

Re:An cue the standard reply (5, Informative)

bertok (226922) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494509)

They actually say exactly that in the patent itself:

In an effort to gain the advantages conferred by operating on a floating point basis, some prior art systems have attempted to perform floating point through software emulation, but on a fixed point hardware platform. However, this approach is extremely slow, due to the fact that the software emulation relies upon the use of a general purpose CPU...

But as advances in semiconductor and computer technology enable greater processing power and faster speeds; as prices drop; and as graphical applications grow in sophistication and precision, it has been discovered by the present inventors that it is now practical to implement some portions or even the entire rasterization process by hardware in a floating point format.

In other words, they admit that they've seen prior art where others have tried and failed. Instead of inventing a faster method for implementing floating point, SGI just waited until silicon caught up, and hey look, they "invented" floating point graphics. It's in the patent text that they did nothing but wait for Moore's law to solve their problem for them! How was this approved by the patent office!?

I have this mental image of a lone clerk in the patent office somewhere, mindlessly whacking a rubber stamp on everything shoved in front of his face, while staring off into the distance with glazed-over eyes.

Re:An cue the standard reply (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494579)

They actually say exactly that in the patent itself:

In an effort to gain the advantages conferred by operating on a floating point basis, some prior art systems have attempted to perform floating point through software emulation, but on a fixed point hardware platform. However, this approach is extremely slow, due to the fact that the software emulation relies upon the use of a general purpose CPU...

But as advances in semiconductor and computer technology enable greater processing power and faster speeds; as prices drop; and as graphical applications grow in sophistication and precision, it has been discovered by the present inventors that it is now practical to implement some portions or even the entire rasterization process by hardware in a floating point format.

By the same method I could patent an electric car that has a 500-mile plus range, top speed of over 90mph and a charge time of under an hour. When the hardware catches up (i.e. other people do the real work) I cash in as having invented it. God, what a stupid system. No wonder people want to be lawyers rather than actually invent something - the lawyers can claim to have "invented" it on paper and take the money and credit.

Re:An cue the standard reply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494689)

You could patent it, but not if I patent in first, and in which case you would infringing my patent... :)

Re:An cue the standard reply (2)

NGTechnoRobot (2560687) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494945)

This is why a "show me it working" is an important step in the patent process otherwise I could patent any number of "Science Fiction" based products and just wait until they are invented! for example Start Trek Tricorder.

Re:An cue the standard reply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39495071)

The time for which patents are granted is (still) rather finite, this approach can be seen more like speculating that the invention you patented will be implemented within the range of time for which the patent was granted.

Re:An cue the standard reply (2)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495001)

By the same method I could patent an electric car that has a 500-mile plus range, top speed of over 90mph and a charge time of under an hour. When the hardware catches up (i.e. other people do the real work) I cash in as having invented it. God, what a stupid system. No wonder people want to be lawyers rather than actually invent something - the lawyers can claim to have "invented" it on paper and take the money and credit.

You could do that yes, but it would cost you a fair amount of money. http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070313050823AAND484 [yahoo.com]

But then not all patents stick when they are challenged in court so filing a single patent on your "invention" does not guarantee any return. In order to be sure you actually shaft the real inventor of an electric car you will need to invest probably in the region of $100,000. This is quite a lot of cash to invest, and even then there is a small chance that some bastard will successfully lobby congress to overhaul the patent process and flush all your money down the drain :)

Re:An cue the standard reply (4, Funny)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494589)

I have this mental image of a lone clerk in the patent office somewhere, mindlessly whacking a rubber stamp on everything shoved in front of his face, while staring off into the distance with glazed-over eyes.

And then this lone clerck in the patent office comes up with the theory of relativity. I know, right?

Re:An cue the standard reply (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494761)

Why do I suddenly get the idea that someone went and came to patent the idea and that clerk didn't like him...

It sure is material for a Hollywood blockbuster thriller.

Re:An cue the standard reply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494897)

Evilstein V: The Patent Clerk

Re:An cue the standard reply (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495013)

It's been done. Here's the prior art:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrsN8iTwFiw [youtube.com]

Re:An cue the standard reply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39495065)

Simpsons already did it.

Re:An cue the standard reply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494889)

What confuses me is that the date at the top of the patent is yesterday. Haven't we had graphics using floating point numbers since like, the Nintendo 64 days?

N64 by SGI (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494921)

Haven't we had graphics using floating point numbers since like, the Nintendo 64 days?

Nintendo 64 had an SGI chipset. It was essentially a stripped-down SGI workstation in the same way that the original Xbox would be a stripped-down PC. This patent is owned by the remnants of SGI that weren't sold to Rackable.

Re:An cue the standard reply (3, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495193)

Remember that SGI had a strong partnership with MIPS and jointly developed a lot of video and audio technology. They might very well have also invented the silicon.

Lets not treat SGI like a patent troll with fake claims. This was a company that did a lot to advance our industry it is a pity of our law that bankrupt companies can have their memories tarnished this way.

Re:An cue the standard reply (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494903)

So for those of us who don't speak lawyerese, how good/bad are the odds this patent will stick? I remember SGI was one of the first in the biz doing GPU heavy work so if anybody has patents that would put a serious crimp on mobile my gut tells me it'd be them, but as I said i don't speak lawyerese, especially not at 6AM, so if someone could give odds that would be nice.

Re:An cue the standard reply (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495215)

I don't think this will be a serious crimp. Most likely it would be a licensing fee that all the mobile chip makers end up paying. So like an extra $3 per phone for years.

Re:An cue the standard reply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39496003)

Strange patent

Intro says for years we have wanted to use floating point, but it was too hard to implement.

Now that technology has made it practical, we are going to patent using it.

It's odd that the patent itself would say that the patent is obvious.

Et tu, SGI? (2)

Shag (3737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494343)

Back in the mid-late '90s, I was a dedicated SGI user, working on an Indy with PhotoShop 3.0 and all that good stuff.

I'm disappointed to see SGI apparently taking the SCO path here.

(Ironically, I administered a SCO OpenSewer box far more recently than I got to use any SGI kit.)

Re:Et tu, SGI? (3, Funny)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494707)

So tell me what you are administering right now, so I can avoid it due to it becoming first obsolete and then nasty :)

Re:Et tu, SGI? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494763)

Windows.

Too late, buddy.

Re:Et tu, SGI? (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495235)

The haven't fallen to the level of SCO yet. SCO did stuff and then fabricated a claim that IBM did that stuff and thus violated their contract. SCO lied about their copyright status for other materials. They lied about ownership (fraud).

  This patent claim by SCO is different. While it is painful to see SCO using patents not innovation to make money is likely truthful.

Re:Et tu, SGI? (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496765)

SGI's assets were bought up by a new shell company around the turn of the millennium. These suits are no more SGI's fault than Oracle's suits are Sun's fault. The sad thing is, just like Sun, SGI was committed to keeping the fruits of their innovations open and available to everyone (e.g. OpenGL) and would never have done this.

New line of business (3, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494351)

"Silicon Graphics -> Graphics Properties Holdings"

Now you have to change your name when you go from "making and selling" to "patent trolling"?

Ludicrous! What will be next? Bankers renaming themselves to Society Leeches?

Re:New line of business (3, Informative)

armanox (826486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494393)

Rackable aquired the "SGI" name as part of buying off of the old SGI's assets IIRC.

Re:New line of business (1)

armanox (826486) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494397)

ignore the "off of," I'm not fully awake yet.

Re:New line of business (4, Funny)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494521)

*Lowers the grammar nazi shotgun*

Re:New line of business (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494427)

Not all of them, they kept the bits that were still useful. The things related to high-speed interconnects and efficient NUMA systems, which are still relevant in the supercomputer market, they kept. The obsolete crap, they sold to a patent troll.

TheRaven64 = cowardly little troll, lol... apk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39495119)

Anytime you *think* you have the intellect to 'get the better of me'? Come on over here -> http://mobile.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2734503&cid=39493361 [slashdot.org] & disprove any points I have made on hosts files there!

(Along with the thoughts & opinions of your /. peers that outnumber your craven tactics 40++:1 and actually agree that hosts files are useful for speed, security, and more of beneficial value to they and others...)

You're 'so brave' doing cowardly little trollish ad hominem attack attempts, in your snide little comment there -> http://mobile.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2734503&cid=39406223 [slashdot.org] !

Let's see how well you bear up under fire when you're challenged to disprove not only the thoughts of others on hosts files benefits they have gotten using custom hosts files, but also points I have made in favor of hosts files that have gotten myself modded up MANY TIMES here by others also (which is tough to get as an AC since /. buries our posts by default).

* It is going to be a PLEASURE annihilating you...

APK

P.S.=> So yes - that's right: I am going to make it a point to humiliate you now, worm.

Especially since you saw fit to attempt to try to 'start up' with me there with an off-topic illogical failing attempt @ ad hominem attacks directed my way there!

So - now the shoe's on the other foot, except that it will illustrate your inadequacy in things technical in computing hugely, proving this is no mere ad hominem attack on my part (only payback you merited, and best part is? YOU only did this, to yourself, worm)... apk

Re:TheRaven64 = cowardly little troll, lol... apk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39495177)

Wow. Someone needs their morning coffee, quick...

Fear not, rest of world. Patent trolling is proof (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494663)

... that the US beast will eventually eat itself and pass into history.

And the terrists will have won.

By the year 2050, the US will be seen as an empty wasteland once occupied by primitives who could not cope with the modern world, lost their minds and ate themselves.

Re:Fear not, rest of world. Patent trolling is pro (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494773)

So patent trolls are terrrrrists? Interesting theory, let's see...

Hate us for our freedom to produce and innovate? Check.
Cripple the economy? Check.
Try to influence politics by their practices? Check.

I think you're on to something here...

Exactly how dim are you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39495155)

So patent trolls are terrrrrists? Interesting theory, let's see...

Of course not. Patent trolls just help the enemy see its objectives sooner (the destruction what they call the "great Satan", i.e., you).

Wake up and smell the coffee. The usa is on its way down economically, technologically, industrially and militarily (to name a few) and world opinion of the usa is plummeting fast (note that many times more people live outside the red, white and blue walls than inside your prison and we're less impressed by you every day). Obummer turned out to be a right-wing lackey - the fix is in.

Do you seriously think that internal patent trolling benefits the usa? Then you're either with the 'terrists' or your a rich bastard. Either way, you're an enemy to the usa, so do the country a favour and drop dead.

Anything fools inside the walls do to help expedite the process of the destruction of the crumbling usa (and patent trolling certainly qualifies by countering productivity and stifling innovation, leading to loss of science, technology and industry) aids the 'terrists' in their objective of destroying the once-great american empire.

Then again, if you're an example of an american, the world would be better off without you, so carry on.

Let's see...

Hate you? Check. I hate all terrists, their aids (where you fit in) and their abettors.
Hate america? Check. You do.
Brainwashed dipstick or rich? Check. You are.
Tired of trying to tell total fools what they're killing themselves and their country? Fucking right I am.

You've already taken far more of my time than you'll ever merit.

Goodbye forvever, and piss off.

Re:Exactly how dim are you? (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496911)

Wow! What a reaction. These angry comments that sometimes come from seemingly nowhere... really do baffle me. And they're often responses to a spot of light humour too. It amazes me that some people are really that full of anger.

Re:Fear not, rest of world. Patent trolling is pro (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494895)

>and ate themselves
Each other, surely? Or do things get *really* bad?

Re:New line of business (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494769)

No such dice. "Society Leeches of America" would be misleading, people could think you want to appear as if you're Congress.

Re:New line of business (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495121)

They become Capital Holdings companies

This makes me sad (1, Interesting)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494373)

I was hoping SGI would at least somewhat gracefully fade away, instead someone decided to do a cash grab before the remnants of a once-great company finally disappear...

Re:This makes me sad (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494441)

This seems to be the norm these days - a company that was formerly massively successful begins to die down and fade away, so in a last ditch attempt to cling to live they sue anyone and everyone that has ever done anything remotely similar to them.

Going by this logic, it does also mean that Apple must be ready to die soon. I mean, they can't have that much money, can they?

Re:This makes me sad (5, Interesting)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494701)

This seems to be the norm these days - a company that was formerly massively successful begins to die down and fade away, so in a last ditch attempt to cling to live they sue anyone and everyone that has ever done anything remotely similar to them.

Every successful company usually becomes that way under a founder. Or a founder-like figure (maybe the company was obscure for 100 years and then takes the world by storm - the leader in this case is like a founder). Under the founder all is well, and the company generally makes net-positive contributions to society.

Then the founder retires, and his hand-picked successor takes over. They usually start having more of an eye towards whatever the founder hired them for (often marketing, or finance, or whatever). However, they were mentored by the founder and usually are fairly true to the original dream.

After that the next succession is managed by the board's CEO search committee, and everybody after this could care less about visions and dreams, and instead aim to min/max their balance sheet and bonus check. Companies don't sue people - their leaders do. By the time a company reaches the state SGI is in, nobody who had anything to do with creating anything of worth is in charge.

Going by this logic, it does also mean that Apple must be ready to die soon. I mean, they can't have that much money, can they?

Every company is doomed to follow this cycle - it is the nature of wall street. Apple is now operating under the hand-picked successor. He will probably do reasonably well, but one day he will retire. Everything after that will be inertia. Oh, it takes a long time for a huge company to fail, and sometimes you get lucky and the wall street pick might actually turn out to be visionary. However, by-and-large the only innovations at Apple starting with the next CEO will be in the balance sheet.

Sooner or later you can only cut the bottom line so much before the fall in the top line starts. At that point the company will bleed off anything of worth it still has left, until its only function can be that decreed by law - it is still able to collect money, write checks to the decision-makers, and file lawsuits, shielding the decision-makers from personal liability. It is nothing more than a front at that point, but it will continue on.

Apple has always been lawsuit-happy, so who knows - perhaps we won't even last another CEO before the slide starts. It all depends on whether they start rewarding the lawyers more than the innovators like they do at most companies.

Re:This makes me sad (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495269)

Tim Cook has already done quite a bit of innovation in the manufacturing and logistics area. He is more like a Michael Dell than a Steve Jobs but he is not just a balance sheet guy.

My prediction is that Apple goes mainstream under Cook, becoming something like IBM was in the 1980s.

Re:This makes me sad (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495919)

Tim Cook has already

But he's not the next CEO, he's the current one. The GP's point was that when the founder's hand-picked successor goes, that's when the rot starts.

Re:This makes me sad (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496239)

Yup. Like Jobs or not he clearly knew how to make a company successful. Chances are he picked a successor who is likely to have the right stuff, even if he isn't another Jobs.

It all goes downhill once the search committee takes over. They're going to pick the same kind of CEO that any committee of this sort does. If the next guy has anything to do with Jobs, the committee will have likely picked him because how much he ISN'T like Jobs. People with what it takes to make a company a big success rarely resonate with a dozen wall-street types.

Re:This makes me sad (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494779)

I shudder at the thought what will happen to our economy should Microsoft and Apple start to become obsolete...

I don't dare to think about IBM.

Re:This makes me sad (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494595)

I was hoping SGI would at least somewhat gracefully fade away

I was hoping for a comeback- not like this, though.

Wait wait wait wait... (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494387)

I did only read the summary of the patent because I go into a brain-dead-mode if I have to read such English....but did they just patent drawing onto a framebuffer using floats instead of ints?

Re:Wait wait wait wait... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494425)

Yes.

What is claimed is:

1. A rendering circuit comprising: a geometry processor; a rasterizer coupled to the geometry processor, the rasterizer comprising a scan converter having an input and an output, the scan converter being configured to scan convert data received at the input, at least a portion of the data received at the input being in floating point format, the scan converter being configured to output data from the output, at least a portion of the data from the output being floating point data; and a frame buffer coupled to the rasterizer for storing a plurality of color values in floating point format.

2. The rendering circuit as defined by claim 1 wherein the scan converter is configured to scan convert on an entirely floating point basis.

3. The rendering circuit as defined by claim 1 wherein the data received at the input comprises color data.

4. The rendering circuit as defined by claim 1 wherein the rasterizer further includes a floating point texture circuit.

5. The rendering circuit as defined by claim 1 wherein the rasterizer operates entirely on a floating point basis.

6. The rendering circuit as defined by claim 1 further comprising a circuit board coupled with the geometry processor, rasterizer, and frame buffer.

7. A rendering circuit comprising: a rasterizer for performing a rasterization process, at least a portion of the rasterization process performed in a floating point format; and a floating point frame buffer coupled to the rasterizer for storing a plurality of floating point color values.

8. The rendering circuit as defined by claim 7 wherein the floating point color values are read out from the frame buffer in the floating point format for display.

9. The rendering circuit as defined by claim 7 wherein the rasterization process is performed on an entirely floating point basis.

10. The rendering circuit as defined by claim 7 wherein the rasterizer comprises an input and an output, the rasterizer configured to process floating point data received at the input, the rasterizer configured to output floating point data at the output.

They just described an 'apparatus' that uses a rasterizer, geometry processor, and frame buffer (i.e. a GPU), the only specific of which is that it uses floating point data (somehow repeated over 10 claims).

Fuck this.

Re:Wait wait wait wait... (2)

rolfeb (1218438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494503)

Sigh. Independent claim 7 doesn't even have a geometry processor. Filed in 2011, so it's not like it was a good idea from way back.

It's hard to see how this differs from one of their own cited prior arts patent, US7518615, which contains, for example:

> 1. A computer system, comprising: a processor for performing geometric calculations on a plurality of vertices of a primitive; a rasterization
> circuit coupled to the processor that rasterizes the primitive according to a scan conversion process which operates using a floating point
> format; and a frame buffer coupled to the rasterization circuit for storing a plurality of color values in the floating point format.

Re:Wait wait wait wait... (2)

maroberts (15852) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494565)

Its a continuation patent, so I suspect it inherits the filing date of the original patents in exchange for a shorter duration.

Re:Wait wait wait wait... (1)

IceNinjaNine (2026774) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495789)

Sigh. Independent claim 7 doesn't even have a geometry processor.

Sigh.. won't somebody please think of the rasters?

Re:Wait wait wait wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494431)

Yep...i read the whole patent.

hahaha

Hahahahahahahahaha... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494395)

Hahahaha! Who saw that coming?

These corporations are so cute (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494401)

Such a gluttonous appetite for money; they remind me of two sea cucumbers trying to devour each other.

Look at the patent date (1)

MisterMidi (1119653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494405)

Looks like the patent was issued only yesterday.

Good (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494409)

Keep on suing each other, boys! Sue, sue, sue! That'll teach you a lesson!

Take something already done... (1)

mallydobb (1785726) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494411)

and slap the label, "on a phone" or "for a mobile device", and PRESTO! You have a new, patentable use for the obvious.

shitty patent (2)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494415)

really. using 16 bit floating point to hold color.

"yo we patented opengl with 16bit floating point in the 2000's". should be fucking obvious. increasing it to 32bit and 64bit too and other number holding formats.

Re:shitty patent (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494449)

32 bits is obvious. The half precision floating point format was actually quite neat. It's pretty much useless for anything except graphics, but with 16 bit floats you can represent a far more useful range of colours (for humans) than with 16 bit integers and get a rendering quality that is much closer to 32-bit floats than to 8-bit integers. Maybe not deserving of a patent, but it was considered pretty clever at the time. It made it into OpenGL ES, because it was useful for saving memory on small-footprint devices.

Re:shitty patent (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494497)

Sort of. 32 bits is not obvious. The IEEE standard for this stuff is actually pretty fucking complicated once you realize how much numerical analysis goes into the design. IEEE standardized on a set of formats, and half float is just a variant on those (e.g. the exponent bias is still 2^(E-1)-1). I templatized this for a compiler once - you could have a float with any number of mantissa bits and any number of exponent bits. Shit, should have patented it.

Plus, this patent is not a patent on half float, it's a patent on using floating-point AT ALL within a GPU. Talk about homesteading the noosphere :)

Re:shitty patent (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494969)

Shit, should have patented it.

Just publish it so no one else does.

Re:shitty patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494999)

Please share that template Master Jedi.

Re:shitty patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39495031)

Sorry, it's not a C++ template, it's literally a struct in the compiler's type system with entries for numMantissaBits, numExponentBits, bHasSign, and so forth. From that I can load and unpack a value into a float, and repack (with rounding) into a bitfield. All this was done in the code generation layer using psuedo-ops. The approach does suffer from double-rounding but it's the best you can do given the hardware.

Re:shitty patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39495625)

A GPU is a CPU with a slant for graphic functionality, removing some of the generic processing ability. There is nothing special about putting code into an IC. The benefit is performance when viewing the whole system at the expense of flexibility, certainly nothing worth patenting, seeing as every EE would end up doing it roughly the same, just as programmers will tend toward a limited number of implementations of a given task.

Re:shitty patent (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494511)

It's just floating point with a different size mantissa/exponent. Not creative or novel in any meaningful way. Certainly not worthy of a patent.

Re:shitty patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494635)

32 bits is obvious. The half precision floating point format was actually quite neat.

...except that there were loads of earlier 16-bit floating-point formats. e.g. 3Dfx

Troll: A challenge 2U from myself... apk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39495109)

Anytime you *think* you have the intellect to 'get the better of me'? Come on over here -> http://mobile.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2734503&cid=39493361 [slashdot.org] & disprove any points I have made on hosts files there!

(Along with the thoughts & opinions of your /. peers that outnumber your craven tactics 40++:1 and actually agree that hosts files are useful for speed, security, and more of beneficial value to they and others)

You're 'so brave' doing cowardly little trollish ad hominem attack attempts, in your snide little comment there -> http://mobile.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2734503&cid=39406223 [slashdot.org] !

Let's see how well you bear up under fire when you're challenged to disprove not only the thoughts of others on hosts files benefits they have gotten using custom hosts files, but also points I have made in favor of hosts files that have gotten myself modded up MANY TIMES here by others also (which is tough to get as an AC since /. buries our posts by default).

* It is going to be a PLEASURE annihilating you...

APK

P.S.=> So yes - that's right: I am going to make it a point to humiliate you now, worm.

Especially since you saw fit to attempt to try to 'start up' with me there with an off-topic illogical failing attempt @ ad hominem attacks directed my way there by yourself!

So - now the shoe's on the other foot, except that it will illustrate your inadequacy in things technical in computing hugely, proving this is no mere ad hominem attack on my part (only payback you merited, and best part is? YOU only did this, to yourself, worm)... apk

Re:Troll: A challenge 2U from myself... apk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39496511)

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Re:shitty patent (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496547)

32 bits is obvious. The half precision floating point format was actually quite neat. It's pretty much useless for anything except graphics, but with 16 bit floats you can represent a far more useful range of colours (for humans) than with 16 bit integers and get a rendering quality that is much closer to 32-bit floats than to 8-bit integers. Maybe not deserving of a patent, but it was considered pretty clever at the time.

The latter is the standard, though. Patents aren't granted to innovative, nonobvious solutions that are sufficiently awesome to be "deserving," because that would be an arbitrary standard and would violate the requirements of due process (the PTO being a quasi-judicial body). Instead, the question is just whether they're novel and nonobvious, and if something is pretty clever, then it doesn't matter whether it cures cancer, renders better fog, or makes an online shopping experience slightly faster. Such questions of worthiness are better left for the market to decide - if I patent a machine that twiddles my fingers for me, not only is no one going to buy a license, no one's going to infringe.

I'll be rich! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494485)

I should patent the erroneous serving of mobile version of a web page in desktop browser so I can sue Slashdot every time they do it to me.

Prior art (2)

cheaphomemadeacid (881971) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494487)

So, im pretty sure there exists prior art for putting a . behind a number to mark some fraction of a number

Just plain ridiculous (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494567)

This shows how ridiculous it is to allow companies to file patents on simple things and keep them for 20 years. A patent should protect an inventor from copycats, and it shouldn't do more than just that. In this case, making the hardware took a few months, making money before the competition did took one or two years, so the patent shouldn't have been valid for more than, say, two years.
We need a serious reform of patent law, worldwide.

Re:Just plain ridiculous (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39494597)

We need a serious reform of patent law, worldwide.

Nope, we need a serious reform of the clusterfuck that is the US patent system.
Other countries are doing well, and in the EU you can't patent software.

So what is this patent on? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494755)

I find patents difficult to read. They're written in such an abstract way.

However, my interpretation is that this seems to be the idea of storing data as floating point, and operating on it using floating point hardware. Surely this sort of thing has been around for a while.

Enough of this (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494879)

Simply shoot the lawyers and the "Graphics Properties Holdings" to death. This already gone too far.

did anyone say prior art? ;-) (1)

proclus (33875) | more than 2 years ago | (#39494919)

Look at the date on the patent. There is a massive amount of prior art. This is a silly patent and lawsuit.

Regards,
proclus
http://www.gnu-darwin.org/ [gnu-darwin.org]

must be valid claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39495025)

U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware

they weren't filed in marshall, texas.

SGI patent portfolio (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495153)

I don't think there is anyone who is going to question SGI's degree of innovation or importance in the industry. I'd hope that most of their patents are expired or near expired because turning the company into a patent troll is like necrophilia, defaming the body of the dead to satisfy the living. That being said, there could be a lot of innovations there we all take for granted and this could be really harmful. I sincerely hope that they lose while being very afraid they'll win.

Re:SGI patent portfolio (3, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495943)

I don't think there is anyone who is going to question SGI's degree of innovation or importance in the industry.

What the fuck am I reading? Did you read their patent?! There's a big difference between being Innovative, and being the first iteration. It's sure great to be the latter, but it shouldn't grant you monopolies over the iterative shit you do. You, sir, are seriously WRONG. I, for one, question SGI's degree of "innovation" considering it was primarily obvious iteration. Furthermore, I put it to you that if SGI didn't exist, someone else would have done it just as well, possibly even better. Ergo, they weren't at all more important than the next guy.

"Genius" isn't. Hey, what's the symbol for an ingenious idea? A light bulb? Edison's "invention" was iterative. Two years prior there was an improved incandescent light in a vacuum patent in the European patent office... It wasn't some remarkable leap of insight, Edison just tried stuff until it worked! Elisha Gray and Gram Bell BOTH invented the telephone i.e. using mercury as a variable resistor to put voice down the line that we were already using for communication (telegraph) -- Bell was AN HOUR sooner to the patent office, Gray went to the poorhouse. It was clearly ITERATION. People knew that you could detect sound waves and people knew you could communicate via wire. Are you saying that the twain would never have met if it weren't for a single Marvellous Brilliant Genius? WRONG! If the problem is important enough it WILL be solved (if it's solvable). SGI was first. SO WHAT. Edison was first to make a marketable bulb. We'd still have incandescent bulbs today if he had been struck and killed by the fabled lightning... We'd have had the Telephone AN HOUR LATER if Mr Bell had never existed.

We've increased the population of humans H in the problem space to the point that any monopoly on an idea nearly immediately harms independent "inventors". The average technician skilled in the art has a chance of creating the solution S. The number of new ie "patentable" solutions P to a problem in a given time interval T is P = SH/T
It's plain to see that as H increases, so to does the number of patentable solutions.
( This is because THERE IS NO TEST FOR OBVIOUSNESS -- The PTO does not employ individuals adequately skilled in the arts [these folk are WORKING in their fields]! Consequently, the PTO just ensures that the forms are signed, grants patents over anything that's not already in their Database and let's the court sort it out )

The problem is that there are actually VASTLY more people just getting shit done and realising that their work is iterative, than there are dumb lazy fucks who can't think for themselves so they look through the patent system database to see who's ideas they can use -- THE LATTER DOES NOT ACTUALLY EXIST! Everyone just solves their own damn problems rather than pay Patent Tax! The system is useless! Since EVERYONE is some degree of a Genius, Geniuses aren't special, otherwise we would actually search for patented solutions to use. In some fields where the research cost is high, you may do this, but in Software?! It's just Math, and Math is EASY.

Patents reward investment in research OF ONLY THE FIRST RESEARCHER. It's moronic to think that an idea monopoly won't harm THE ENTIRE REST OF THE FIELD as they're taxed for not getting there first or have to work around an obvious solution to avoid legal fees to invalidate P. It's even more retarding to get on your knees and worship the first iterating company as if it's the ONLY one in the field because it can pay for more H to produce P in less T. If you can pay for more H, then you get more P in less T; It's quite simple.

The bar for "Genius" has been lowered to average Joe engineer. It's your style of Mental Fellatio that's to blame for our current state of affairs...

This is stupid (4, Interesting)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39495229)

This is one of the stupidest patents I've ever heard of.

Even back in the fall of 1986 at University of Saskatchewan in my graphics class, the algorithms we started with were presented as floating point algorithms. We were then shown the integer variants on those algorithms, which we were told bluntly were used only because they were faster than floating point emulation.

So they got a patent for doing something that we were told not to do purely for performance reasons, not for any reason of logic or functionality. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind this whole patent should be overturned.

And, yes, I was heavily into computer graphics at the time. I even was a contributing publisher to a paper on the "Fast Line Clipping" algorithm, which really, in retrospect, was not so much an innovation as an example of a very advanced special case of loop and conditional unrolling that some of the more advanced modern compilers can probably to automatically at this present time. If you want to check out that crufty old article, you'll have a better chance of finding it by searching for Yang or Pospisil, the professor and grad student for the project; I was just a fourth year programmer at the time.

No, we didn't patent our algorithm. Back then the point of research and development was to learn and share, not to squat and sue.

I want this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39495365)

I want to patent an additional opposable digit on my hand. As soon as the right birth defect occurs, whammo! Billionaire.

The New Pawn brokers (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496669)

They buy a property low and then milk it for all they can get. They are true red neck entrepreneurs. Patents are there to protect the creators/inventor and their family to make a reasonable profit on the idea for a limited number of years. What the "owner"/"entrepreneurs" have done is take that idea, bundle the IP as a commodity and buy and sell it on the secondary market. Very different than the intent of the law and creates a system that does not favor the inventor. Much like the pay day loan business, and just as socially acceptable.

Re:The New Pawn brokers (1)

Matheus (586080) | more than 2 years ago | (#39496953)

When do we get the reality TV show!? "Pawn Stars -- USPTO" and "Pawn Stars -- Wall Street". We've already seen plenty of activity from both and it's popular as ever! There's plenty of nuts doing the work to make the show interesting too. Gotta sell this crap to the History channel fast!

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