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Creative Pressures id Software With Patents

simoniker posted about 10 years ago | from the patent-this dept.

First Person Shooters (Games) 339

Cryect writes "Earlier today it was announced by Creative that they would be adding in EAX 3D sound support to Doom 3, and that they had come to an 'agreement relating to Creative's patented shadowing technique [also known as Carmack's Reverse in some coding circles] and id's cutting-edge 3D graphics DOOM 3 engine.' This seemed somewhat suspicious, almost as if id was being pressured, and a quick email to John Carmack from Reverend @ Beyond3d got this reply: 'The patent situation well and truly sucks... It was tempting to take a stand and say that our products were never going to use any advanced Creative/3DLabs products because of their position on patenting gaming software algorithms, but that would only have hurt the users...' There's also some possible prior art [PPT link] to Creative Labs' patent, from a 1999 talk by Nvidia's Sim Dietrich."

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First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822636)

In soviet russia insensitive patents clod you with videogames

Re:First Post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822760)

Yeah, Carmack sucks.

Go, Bill G., go!

HELLO (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822640)


woot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822649)


Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822662)

It's called market dominance - AKA: a Monopoly. While Creative's hold over the market is as strong as Microsoft's, the truth is that they have a lot of power in the industry. Think of them as Nvidia pre-ATI dominance.

Creative's job (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822664)

Seems like creative makes a practice outta this. .asp?pid=6197 Creative Technology Ltd. (NASDAQ: CREAF), and wholly-owned subsidiary EMU, today announced a mixed jury verdict in the case against Aureal Semiconductor.

Really great (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822666)

This is really great -- just in time for Doom III. Now if Gentoo can just add this to their package list I can emerge it. BTW, is this compatible with the 2.4 kernel?

asdf (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822667)


If I was Carmack.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822682)

I would just put a little bit of code to detect if a Creative card was installed, and if so, maybe cap the FPS at 10 or so. And also provide a splash screen that explains in tech-jargon "Doom 3 is not optimized for Creative products. Please try a Hercules or Santa Cruz Card." That could signifigantly hurt Creative's business.

Re:If I was Carmack.... (2, Interesting)

zedmelon (583487) | about 10 years ago | (#9822906)

Appealing in some ways, but Carmack won't do that, as illustrated by his words, that you don't even need to read the article to find:

'It was tempting to take a stand...but that would only have hurt the users...'

Re:If I was Carmack.... (3, Informative)

the_raptor (652941) | about 10 years ago | (#9823099)

I would just put a little bit of code to detect if a Creative card was installed, and if so, maybe cap the FPS at 10 or so. And also provide a splash screen that explains in tech-jargon "Doom 3 is not optimized for Creative products. Please try a Hercules or Santa Cruz Card." That could signifigantly hurt Creative's business.
No that would just cause owners of creative cards to get pissed of with id. Creative has a slightly higher market dominance then Doom 3 does ;)

Re:If I was Carmack.... (1)

Skye16 (685048) | about 10 years ago | (#9823160)

Yes, but the majority of Doom 3 users are not going to accept hardware that won't run their game. Look at how many of us ran out and bought new hardware just so we could play it. Creative would be hurt by this far more than Doom 3 would, even if Creative has greater market share.

Re:If I was Carmack.... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9823208)

Creative *doesn't* have greater market share. How many people use the built-in AC 97 motherboard sound? How many computers have Creative built-in? Hell, I haven't used anything Creative Labs has put out in years, my motherboard sound is good enough. Moreover, that nVidia-based motherboard I've got in my current system supports 5.1 surround. Why would I even bother with CL?

Now, if Gravis updated the Ultrasound card, I might give that a look...

Re:If I was Carmack.... (3, Insightful)

karnal (22275) | about 10 years ago | (#9823331)

In addition, let's say you have an onboard sound chip that is creative, that you have turned on in the bios to use something akin to TeamSpeak, but use a Santa Cruz for the game.

You'd have to check which card you're using, not just blindly screwing people who have a Creative chip hooked up to their PCI bus....

All in all, more problems than it solves.

Ugh, I hate software patents. (5, Insightful)

brendanoconnor (584099) | about 10 years ago | (#9822691)

This is a perfect example of why I really hate software patents. Company X will talk about something, hype it up, not mention a bloody patent, then when someone uses it, the company waits around until the opportune moment, then BAM!!!! pulls some patent infringment BS out of their bum.

It is not right. I understand the importance of patents outside of the software industry, I really do. I think that if someone comes up with a clever idea and makes a prototype and intends to sell said object, then they should have a grace period of how long they can be the only ones. I'm up for debate on how long this period should be, but still. In software this just does not happen. You have these companies that are entirely setup with a bunch of patents and they just sue other companies to make money. Talk about shaddy business.

Patent a way to click a button, or how a shadow is rendered, or something just as rediculous is wrong and should not be possible. It hurts the industry more then it helps anyone. It will be aweful to see the rest of the world pass us by because we are unable to innovate because of all the legal mess we have. We have no one to blame but ourselves though.

I hope all of this mess does not affect Doom 3 release date, and it is almost a shame ID did not stick it to Creative. It is nice to see a company care about the user for once to though.


Re:Ugh, I hate software patents. (1)

krishn_dev (781739) | about 10 years ago | (#9822708)

yeah... I agree too.

In spite of revolution in this field, it can hardly be said that same idea can not be implemented in 20 different more ways. Imagine everything (like OOPS, J2EE, TCP/IP etc)patented... and whoop... we are still in jurassic age.

Dont worry! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822735)

Dont worry that US will be left behind - soon the rest of the world will also have the same stupid patent and DMCA-style laws that will stifle innovation and maybe seriously harm free software.

This because of different trade agreements where the US is a part (NAFTA, WTO, etc). (using trade as leverage). And also thanks to big companies doing massive lobbying for these kind of laws. We really dont have a good democracy anywhere in the world, since it is money = power.

I recommend everyone to see this movie:

Not just software patents (2, Insightful)

kingLatency (624983) | about 10 years ago | (#9822799)

Companies that hang on to valuable IP just to make money off of infringing companies don't just exist in the software world. They exist in all industries and what they do is completely legal. I once had it explained to me in a way that made it seem ethically sound! Now, I don't see the distinction. Why is this practice abhorrent in software but fine elsewhere?

Hardware has natural barriers to entry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822861)

They tend to be pretty substantial too. The extra barrier to entry patents represent are not really relevant to us normal folks without a billion to invest. It is all well over the horizon.

To get into software commercially takes the same kind of money as starting a small company though, and non commercially all it takes is some of your time (open source). So here people see patents for what they are, a royal pain in the ass.

Re:Not just software patents (4, Interesting)

13Echo (209846) | about 10 years ago | (#9823168)

This is what really annoys me about this system and companies like Creative Labs (who haven't made an innovative product since the mid-90s). They simply buy up all sorts of technology (Aureal, Sensaura, EMU, Ensoniq, etc.) and slack off with their own products. Creative hasn't done anything substantial with their soundcards since the Live series was released (even then it was sub-par in terms of quality), and has simply re-released the same DSP with some pumped-up driver hacks and better codecs. It's no wonder that companies like M-Audio and Turtle Beach have produced sonically superior products for the average consumer.

Unfortunately, other areas of audio have suffered. There is no "OpenGL" of 3D audio because Creative owns all of the patents from its acquisition of companies like Aureal and Sensaura. They will always have the one-up on 3D audio performance over their customers, and any improvements will be at their own pace. PC audio has been so stale over the last few years. It's sad to see that it's come down to this, but literally; PC audio has gone virtually nowhere because of patent issues like this. This issue with their (stealing) patenting of Carmack's Reverse really shows why we are probably set-back several years in terms of a truly awesome 3D audio experience.

Re:Not just software patents (5, Informative)

MojoMonkey (444942) | about 10 years ago | (#9823282)

"There is no "OpenGL" of 3D audio because Creative owns all of the patents from its acquisition of companies like Aureal and Sensaura."


Software Patent Statute of Limitation? (3, Interesting)

theluckyleper (758120) | about 10 years ago | (#9822811)

I seriously think that software patents need some sort of statute of limitation placed upon them. It looks like in some parts of the world, this exists [] ! In China, the statute of limitation for patent infringement is:

2 years from the date on which the patentee or any interested party obtains or should have obtained knowledge of the infringing act

If this were in force in the USA, then the Unisys GIF debacle (and countless others) could have been avoided.

Unisys KNEW that GIFs were ALL OVER the web, for years, and they didn't attempt to enforce their patent. They'd have to have been in a hole, to not notice. Therefore, a statute of limitations would have prevented them from allowing the world to become addicted to GIFs before springing their trap.

Re:Ugh, I hate software patents. (4, Insightful)

kenthorvath (225950) | about 10 years ago | (#9822839)

The problem is not the software patents, per se, but rather the length of time for which they endure. In an industry that changes dramatically from year to year with new technologies relying on the acceptance of older technologies, it would seem that keeping techniques and algorithms locked down for 17 years does more to hinder new advancements than to help.

A more reasonable term should be adopted for software patents say more on the order of 2 or 3 years. A lot of money can be made in that time frame giving enough insentive to develop without taking too much from the people whom these patents affect.

Re:Ugh, I hate software patents. (4, Insightful)

nattt (568106) | about 10 years ago | (#9823116)

The problem is with the mere idea of patenting software. Software is protected by trade secrets and copyrights. Patents should apply to things, not virtual things. Hell, I'd like to see the end of patents altogether ( in their current form) - I hate the idea that it's first to the patent office who gets the monopoly. Independent works should also get protection because they put equally hard work into their invention too. As long as they didn't copy, then that would be fine by me.

Inventions are often hard, and really, if the invention is already out there, it's much cheaper to buy rather than re-invent, but if you put the effort into inventing parallel (or without any knowledge of) a patented invention, why should you not also get protection???

Re:Ugh, I hate software patents. (2, Insightful)

Have Blue (616) | about 10 years ago | (#9823284)

Patents are meant to protect the investment required to create a brand-new thing and the ability to recoup those costs. That fundamental concept can still apply to software, if not in its present broken form.

Re:Ugh, I hate software patents. (3, Interesting)

nattt (568106) | about 10 years ago | (#9823341)

If so, then you wouldn't have to publically disclose the workings of your invention. Patents are to protect work that is publically disclose so the secrets of any invention don't get lost to society, and hence, after the patent expires, you can build upon that invention.

But patents rarely fully disclose exactly how the invention works, and as we know, the devil is in the detail. I think a lot of people skilled in a particular art would find it hard to re-create an invention from it's patent - indeed, there are many patents for things that do not work.

Patents are protection for ideas, but ideas are worthless when implementation is everything, which is certainly the case in software. Implementations are adequately protected by copyrights.

Patents may have meant something in the dim, dark past when people patented physical inventions that worked, but now....

Re:Ugh, I hate software patents. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822947)

There was "kind of similiar" situation about what happened over at the Diablo's team @ Blizzard North, when they left last summer, over issues of non-communication about the sell of the division.

Its really crazy, but money over industry is nice and all - BUT at what sacrifice and improvement? Even the Opensource is not ammune to asshole CEO's such as that *ahem* moron over at SCO.

Re:Ugh, I hate software patents. (2, Interesting)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 10 years ago | (#9823267)

I would recommend letting Creative know how you feel. My e-mail to Creative:


I've recently become aware of the situation with Creative/Id Software regarding software patents held by your corporation, and the pressure brought to bear on Id Software as a result. I am against software patenets in general, and especially when used in the ways in which Creative seems to be using them. I've always used Creative products, and recommended them to friends, as well as used and recommended them in buisiness/industrial venues. Sadly, I find myself unable, in good conscience, to continue to use or recommend Creative products and will recommend against using or purchasing Creative products, as the patent tactics being used by Creative to maintain/increase revenue/marketshare are unacceptable to me. I earnestly hope Creative re-thinks its' position(s) on the use of the threat of patent litigation as a buisiness model/tactic. I am not afilliated in any way with Id Software, or its' partners or afilliates, nor with any other competitor of Creative.


I know it doesn't do much, but just maybe if enough negative PR is generated they may rethink their tactics.


Re:Ugh, I hate software patents. (2, Insightful)

gnu-generation-one (717590) | about 10 years ago | (#9823322)

"This is a perfect example of why I really hate software patents."

Those who can, do. Those who can't, patent.

"I don't have the technical skills necessary to make a product out of idea x, therefore I'll patent it, and make sure that nobody else can make a product eithter."

I think the comparaison was with the "dog in a manager" fable. Patents are for people who want to prevent others from creating things.

patents (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822693)

And the reason no games are released on time is that I hold the worldwide patent to releasing games on time.

Re:patents (1)

Volmarias (705460) | about 10 years ago | (#9823240)

Pfft, that's nothing. I have had the patent on innovative games for the last 5 years! Have you wondered why so few games are even interesting lately?

WAD files (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822695)

How long after the game is released before a WAD is released that replaces the monsters with Creative execs?

Friend or Foe? (4, Funny)

garcia (6573) | about 10 years ago | (#9822697)

"The DOOM 3 engine ushers in a new rendering paradigm that allows id and our licensees to bring cinema quality visuals to game players in real time," said Todd Hollenshead, CEO of id Software. "We look forward to further enhancing players' audio experience by working with Creative to leverage their EAX ADVANCED HD audio technology in the DOOM 3 engine."

"Working together with id Software, an industry icon, provides Creative with an exciting opportunity to enhance one of the hottest game engines around," said Hock Leow, CTO of Creative Technology. "We look forward to the challenge of implementing EAX ADVANCED HD Multi-Environment technology within the Doom 3 engine, and subsequently working with id to make these enhancements available to their licensees. We are also pleased with the agreement relating to Creative's patented shadowing technique and id's cutting-edge 3D graphics DOOM 3 engine."

Hmm, this press release seems rather pleasant in tone. I don't get the impression that they were coerced into anything. When I check id's website [] though I don't find the press release on the front page, nor do I see Creative listed in their "Friends of id" section [] . Perhaps they are just a bit behind on updating their website while working to release Doom 3 on time?

Surprise? (3, Insightful)

superultra (670002) | about 10 years ago | (#9822773)

Hmm, this press release seems rather pleasant in tone.

Is a press release ever NOT pleasant in tone? Of course it's pleasant; if id is being legally pursued by Creative they wouldn't print a press release saying, "Creative can blow." That kind of talk is saved for plan files, not press releases.

Re:Surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822833)

Is a press release ever NOT pleasant in tone? Of course it's pleasant; if id is being legally pursued by Creative they wouldn't print a press release saying, "Creative can blow." That kind of talk is saved for plan files, not press releases.

You might not have been able to detect my sarcasm but I can't help it if you're clueless.

Of course Creative will spin it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822801)

They thought they could make a good show by pretending their technology helped Doom3, even though the technology didnt really came from them ... but came from independent invention.

To suits independent invention falling under patents is a perfectly natural and just thing ... they probably thought that everyone would agree with them, but then suits tend to be morons about stuff like that. What a PR blunder, they should have kept their mouths shut about their little blackmail campaign.

Sim Dietrich's prior art will especially bite them in the ass here, while without it they might at least have been legally in the clear and morally bankrupt ... now they are claiming rights to what they didnt even invent first, and are still morally bankrupt.

If anyone from Creative Labs is reading this, dont try to safe face ... just revoke the patent and apologize, you fucked JC man! What the fuck were you thinking?

but PCG said....... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822706)

and i quote from PC Gamer:
(pg.79) Sept. 2004
"(8) Is it true that Doom 3's audio engine is entirely CPU-dependent, thus negating the benefits of high-end sound cards? If so, what are the benefits? What are the drawbacks?
[bla, bla, bla]
PC Gamer's take: Much to Creative Labs' chagrin, Doom 3 should sound exactly the same (and perform equally well) on your motherboard's built-in audio processor as it will on a high-end Audigy 2 ZS sound card."

so much for that!

September 2004? (1)

raygundan (16760) | about 10 years ago | (#9823042)

New for nerds, from the future.

Re:September 2004? (2, Interesting)

DarkMan (32280) | about 10 years ago | (#9823193)

Not really. Computer magazines use 'off self' dating. That is, when the date listed on the magazine comes around, it should be removed from the newsagents shelf.

Most magazines use 'on date' dating, where they get put on the shelf when the date listed on them comes up.

Why the difference? Tradition mostly. The argument is that computer magazines need to seem as new as possible (cos the tech changes), moreso than most other magazines. Thus once one magazine went with 'off date' naming, the rest followed, rather than seem a month or so out of date.

Typically the magazine is on the shelves for a month, so a subscriber would be getting the magazine intended for same during August about now. That magazine will have September as the date written on it.

So, it's bizzare, counter intuative, but perfectly possible to quote a 'September' issue now.

Re:September 2004? (1)

raygundan (16760) | about 10 years ago | (#9823283)

Interesting... I never noticed that! Of course, I don't think I've ever bought a PC magazine, just because the internet provides a pretty thorough coverage of that particular topic for me.

I'll keep my eyes open next time I'm somewhere that carries them.

Thanks id. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822711)

You know. Considering the amount of new crap i have to buy to play this game in the first place, what's another fifty bucks on a new soundcard?

$50 and a chance to tell Creative to go fuck themselves? Sign me up!

Re:Thanks id. (1)

telstar (236404) | about 10 years ago | (#9823164)

Agreed. I'm building a new system for this, and other upcoming games. I know a lot of people that are doing the same. Creative just lost my money.

Re:Thanks id. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9823300)

Yep, mine too. Go to hell, Creative. Lets wait how your marketing folks will try to play this issue down. Don't be fooled people, boykott creative.

If Carmack won't take a stand, who will? (4, Insightful)

Merk (25521) | about 10 years ago | (#9822713)

We were prepared to use a two-pass algorithm that gave equivalent results at a speed hit, but we negotiated the deal with Creative so that we were able to use the zfail method without having to actually pay any cash. It was tempting to take a stand and say that our products were never going to use any advanced Creative/3dlabs products because of their position on patenting gaming software algorithms, but that would only have hurt the users.

Sadly, if Mr. Carmack won't take a stand against evil software patents, I doubt anybody will, or will at least do so successfully.

Think about it. John Carmack has influence and money. People will continue to buy the games id makes, whether or not they use this patented technology. Sure, they might be slightly slower, but considering all the other optimizations id is famous for, it's unlikely anybody would notice.

If a free software project wanted to challenge a patent like this, it wouldn't stand a chance. With no money, it couldn't defend itself. From the other side, the companies that have more power than id simply don't care to take a stand on issues like this.

I can't help but feel that Mr. Carmack wimped out of this fight. Saying that it hurts gameply is just an easy out. Would people really have noticed?

Maybe it's not too late. Maybe if enough people speak up about this, either id will decide to reverse their decision, or Creative will back down and make their patent available royalty-free.

Re:If Carmack won't take a stand, who will? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822746)

If the game hadn't already gone gold I think it would have been easier for them to do so.

I know it would have pissed people off but it would have been interesting if ID had just said "We're going to have to recode & delay the game"

Can you imagine the amount of bad publicity Creative would've got for that one!! They might've backed down just for the amount of flak they received!

Re:If Carmack won't take a stand, who will? (5, Insightful)

moSSad (736632) | about 10 years ago | (#9822806)

id Software it's one of the latest small developers in the field. Pretty much everyone else (besides Epic maybe), is owned by the big game publishers. id is still independent. They don't have the financiar muscle of Creative. They did the only intelligent move, let Creative babble about their collaboration in a *sigh* nicely made press release. Let's try not to get the wrong picture here: id are the good guys, Creative the bad ones.

Et tu Brute? (1)

glrotate (300695) | about 10 years ago | (#9822894)

Yeah. They're the good guys.

Re:If Carmack won't take a stand, who will? (1)

13Echo (209846) | about 10 years ago | (#9823219)

Yeah. I don't think that there is anything else that id could have done. We all know what happens when Creative sues the shit out of another company (simply to bankrupt them with lawsuits). Look at Aureal for a prime example.

Re:If Carmack won't take a stand, who will? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822909)

Boy, it sure is easy for you to put their money on the line when it was not your decision to make wasn't it?

They determined the best solution with what they know of their finances and all, so I can't fault them.

Agendas (1)

mandos (8379) | about 10 years ago | (#9822969)

I think you might be confusing your agenda with John Carmack's. I'm not saying you're wrong or that I disagree with you, but you make it sound like because he didn't make fight your battle for you that he may have done something wrong. I don't think people have an obligation, social or otherwise, to do this.

Re:If Carmack won't take a stand, who will? (4, Insightful)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | about 10 years ago | (#9823024)

Sure, they might be slightly slower, but considering all the other optimizations id is famous for, it's unlikely anybody would notice.

Are you kidding me?

Gamers will spend $400 on a video card, more than it would cost to buy an Xbox AND a PS2, in hopes of getting an extra handful of fps in 3D Shooter Game #837.

mob (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822715)

hmm the legal way of emulating a mob..

We have the patent, put us into the engine or we sue for the other patent. {503 error} (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822754)

I was getting 503 errors when trying to load slashdot for 20 minutes I deleted all cookies and got in now I get 503 errors when i try to login ??????????????????????

Re: {503 error} (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822908)


Re: {503 error} (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822967)

And I... but I've also been having that problem on and off for a good week now.

Creative who? (-1, Troll)

Felinoid (16872) | about 10 years ago | (#9822779)

Forgive me if I'm off my mark, IANAGIE*
*I am not a game industry expert

Did thies guys put out a game?
Did they put out a game engen?

What DID they put out?

Software patents aside, We have wave after wave of companys filing patents while not actually creating anything.
Patents are a way to protect inventions. IANAL but I think if you ask your local patent lawyer he'd agree.
But people aren't producing inventions they are patenting ideas.
"Genus is 1% insperation 99% persperation" reguardless of the fact that the person who said this also killed cows to FUD Teslas AC it's the truth.
Ideas are great but untill you do something with them they are worthless.
Still we have a system where companys may bate and switch.

If once the patent is filed the socalled inventer dosen't produce an invention in a given piriod of time his patent should become void.

And then there is the whole issue of the fact that software patents are patents on logic.

Maybe I should patent my thought processes and then sue every conservitive minded individual in the United States.

Re:Creative who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822810)

they don't put out games, but the've pwned the soundcard market well over a decade you moron.

Historical precedent (4, Interesting)

burnin1965 (535071) | about 10 years ago | (#9822959)

The irony in a company named Creative holding a software patent from which they have never created anything is just amazing.

Anyhow, there is precedent for this type of stupidity. Believe it or not the American car manufacturers at one time paid a patent holding company for every car they sold. Ford challenged the patent and the court ordered the holding company to build the car for which they held the patent on. Needless to say the car was a dismal failure and the patent was overturned in 1911. ldona.htm []


Re:Historical precedent (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | about 10 years ago | (#9823217)

so a judge should order Creative to actually produce a FPS game? that'd be good for a laugh I'm sure.

Prior art (5, Interesting)

Augusto (12068) | about 10 years ago | (#9822788)

Prior art from a talk on the technique []

Reply Quoting This MessageEdit Message SimmerD Member since: 1/5/2003
Posted - 9/21/2003 6:50:03 PM

Don't worry about it fellas. I described this technique publicly a few months before they filed the patent - hence Prior Art. Ironically, it was at a Creative Labs developer's forum.

During my stencil buffer talk, I described doing shadow volumes the 'reverse' way. At the time, I didn't realize the major reason why the z fail method is better than the z pass method, although I did realize they were logically equivalent, which is why it's now known as 'Carmack's Reverse' and not 'Dietrich's Reverse'!

Too bad... (4, Informative)

TheHonestTruth (759975) | about 10 years ago | (#9822822)

Too bad a couple months doesn't cut the mustard. To have truly solid prior art, it has to be over a year before the patent was filed in the U.S. Otherwise, the inventor can swear behind the disclosure, saying that they invented it before the disclosure occurred. This is not the case in the EU. There, disclosure destroys patent rights.


Re:Prior art (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9823062)

For something other than another patent to be considered prior art, you must look at 35 USC 102(a)-
a person shall be entitled to a patent unless -
(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for a patent.

It is difficult to prove "known", however the talk could be considered a printed publication if it was readily accessable to the public. A paper which is orally presented in a forum open to all interested persons constitutes a "printed publication" if written copies are freely disseminated. Massachusetts Institute of Technology v. AB Fortia, 774 F.2d 1104, 1109. Also see MPEP 2128,2132

Re:Prior art (4, Informative)

janneH (720747) | about 10 years ago | (#9823323)

Describing it in public before the patent application date is not prior art per se. IANL, but for it to be public I am pretty sure one has to show that it was public before the date of invention - which can preceed the date of filing by many years.

Future source code release. (5, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | about 10 years ago | (#9822821)

id Software has faithfully released the full source code to each of their titles once the game is a couple generations old.

I wonder if this will affect the release of the Doom 3 source a few years from now? Can patented code be released under the GPL?

Dan East

Re:Future source code release. (1)

Augusto (12068) | about 10 years ago | (#9822843)

I was wondering the same exact thing. My guess is that this would prevent it from being released to the public, specially GPL'ed.

Re:Future source code release. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822927)

Of course Id can release the source, and just strip away the part of the code the patent covers. I am almost certain Carmack would have put in conditional compiler directives to ensure exactly this could happen, later.

John thinks way ahead. I trust he has on this, too. :^)

Jim O'Flaherty

Re:Future source code release. (1)

runderwo (609077) | about 10 years ago | (#9822941)

Why not? FreeType [] does.

Re:Future source code release. (5, Informative)

BigDumbAnimal (532071) | about 10 years ago | (#9822953)

iD has in the past ripped out sound code that was licensed from 3rd parties. Or John has quickly put something else together that will work to replace 3rd party code.

This was done w/ Doom.

Re:Future source code release. (3, Insightful)

johndiii (229824) | about 10 years ago | (#9823061)

Good question. Part of the patent process is disclosing the invention, so the technique itself is public knowledge. So where does this leave us? What would constitute a violation of the patent? Probably selling the source code would be a violation, even though the source implementing this technique is a minuscule part of the game source. Simply publishing the source might not be, since id presumably has the copyright on their own code, and an apparently valid license from Creative to use the patented technique. Would it be legal for an end-user to compile the code? Seems likely. Would it be legal to distribute binaries of the compiled code (free or for a fee)? Probably not. GPL release? Possibly not, though this is a copyright issue rather than a patent one.

Caveat: I am not a lawyer; I am attempting to apply common sense to the dubious notion of a patent on a technique, on a particular algorithm. This is one reason why software patents are goofy (highly technical legal term) - traditionally, a patent applied to a particular implementation of an idea, not to the idea itself.

well then... (3, Interesting)

tandr (108948) | about 10 years ago | (#9822829)

"would only have hurt the users..."

Creatives drivers for SB (Live or whatever) always caused only headache on multiprocessor machines. I realized how limited (and poorly writen) their drivers are after switched to kX drivers. Now marketing dep @ creative reached total lows ...

I dunno about rest of the /. croud, but I hear you John. My next rig will have no Creative products in it.

Re:well then... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822881)

> My next rig will have no Creative products in it.

Any good recommendation to replace Creative? ... I wish Aureal was still around (sigh). Blame patents again on this one.

Re:well then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9823071)

Terratec make some creat SB Live/Audigy Replacements withas breakout box. Had one working under RH9 with ALSA, altho the mixer channels were not perfect it all worked including digital outs :)

Re:well then... (3, Informative)

GodsMadClown (180543) | about 10 years ago | (#9823303)

For gaming, they're the only ones with hardware EAX processing. Other soundcards incur performance hits. For an idea of the size of this hit, take a look at page 6 of the Techreport review of the Philips' Ultimate Edge. ilips-u ltimateedge/index.x?pg=6

For consumer music and movies, CPU usage is much less of an issue. For these uses I would recommend a M-Audio Revolution. It uses the VIA EnvyHT chip and supports for 192/24 resolution throughout the signal path. The sound quality is excellent and the bass management is vastly superior to that of the Audigy 2.

For strictly 2-channel listening, I'd recommend the Chaintech AV-710.

Here's a review on a headphone forum. php?t=75 454

Here's a setup guide on that same forum. php?t=75 655

Re:well then... (1)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | about 10 years ago | (#9822930)

dunno about rest of the /. croud, but I hear you John. My next rig will have no Creative products in it.

Damn right. My opinion of creative kit has been declining rather rapidly recently, combine that with a move like this and Creative can shove their products so far up where the sun doesn't shine that people with think their mouths are hardware dispensers.

Bah, Creative will be... *gets out a black notebook*... 8th against the wall come the revolution.

Re:well then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822960)

Carmack is one of the few people who is respected throughout the industry. I'm hope he'll have more to say on this after the game ships; alot more ;-)

Now about these doom3 linux binaries, where do I get the skinny ( libc, drivers etc )?

Re:well then... (1)

vadim_t (324782) | about 10 years ago | (#9823049)

That's why I no longer have a SB Live here.

I used to have one, but it caused BIG problems in combination with the VIA chipset on my Duron 850. It took me weeks to finally realize it was the card because crashes were very random. So I gave it to my brother, who was pretty happy with it.

Later I bought a dual Athlon MP, and gave the Duron to my brother. I had already heard Creative drivers don't work on SMP. Then I spent all day trying to install Win2K on the Duron, until I finally realized it was the old chipset problem.

So, we ended without being able to use it on any computer. I told my brother that probably the best thing to do with it is to give it as a gift to somebody he didn't like ;-)

For the Athlon I bought a Terratec DMX X-Fire 1024, which works perfectly fine with SMP in both Linux and Windows. On Linux it also supports several hardware channels, so /dev/dsp can be opened more than once for example.

Re:well then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9823094)

Never had any problems with my Live on Intel SMP hardware, but still won't be buying another creative card

Slightly OT: Software patent question (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822876)

Does slashdot have a patent on "a method of buring the retinas of web site viewers with godawful color schemes"?

This color scheme is worse than the IT section's!

Don't support single vendors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822887)

The best way to fight this would be to support the game through sales, but don't buy Creative's hardware. There are other sound card vendors out there inclucing nVidia's nForce and Turtle Beach, so Creative isn't the only option. The more people that buy the other sound cards, more games will support specifications and not vendors. The same rule applies to video cards. If one game company likes to put a "way it's meant to be played" clip in each one of their games, don't buy the game. Support other game companies that write for any card and not one specific company. I await my Score 0 now.

Re:Don't support single vendors (1)

lowe0 (136140) | about 10 years ago | (#9822934)

There's a difference between joint marketing ("The Way It's Meant To Be Played") and blackmail.

The sad part is EAX sucks compared to Aureal (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822922)

The EAX environmental audio is lame compared to the Aureal environmental audio. So naturally the worst standard won in the marketplace and the best standard was purchased and buried.

Creative Labs sucks. Their sound cards have stability problems and EAX buring Aureal really pisses me off.

Re:The sad part is EAX sucks compared to Aureal (2, Interesting)

Anita Coney (648748) | about 10 years ago | (#9823143)

I had an Aureal card, and with only two speakers it could surround sound audio extremely well. There was a speaker test involving helicopters and it actually sounded like it was behind you, in front of you, above you, etc. Even my wife was fooled.

Aureal made the same mistake 3dfx made. It decided to sell its own cards instead of licensing the technology to OEMs. That was asinine.

Ask Slashdot (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822951)

Todays question is -- How Important is Creative?

My own take: Not very. They're about the only game in town when it comes to fancy-pants gaming sound cards. The thing is that a fancy pants gaming soundcard is not very important to me. Don't get me wrong I'm a pretty big gamer, but who really wants a computer desk coverd with a dozen speakers and the attendant wires? I haven't had a creative soundcard since the early soundblaster days. Creative products apart from soundcards? They just re-badge other people's stuff. I'd consider the RIO mp-3 players, but rio isn't creative anymore, right? I haven't had anything from creative in years, and I haven't missed it. Even as a computer gamer. The $20-$30 econo soundboard has been fine for me for as long as I can remember. I think my 486 might have had a creative board. Maybe.

What do you guys think? When you're putting together a setup what do you think about when it comes to soundboards? Do you have to have the best one? How much do you usually spend? Do you really love the 3d sound? Have you GOTTA have the latest pimptastic creative soundboard for like $250? Some people need super awsome soundboards because they make computer music, but then the creative boards aren't the ones you want anyway, right?

While the fury of /. is intense it is also generally short lived. But ditching creative products is not a difficult proposition. And ever since I heard about how they bragged that they could keep costs down by holding back innovation (this was back in the aureal days) I've always kinda thought they were a bunch of dickheads.

Funny with doom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822989)

I find it funny that it was the first doom that
they said they would never use someone else's
code (sound in this case) because it screwed up
their source release

while they are not using someone else's code
this time (just a patent thing), the conviction
seems to be gone a little bit

Re:Funny with doom (1)

DaHat (247651) | about 10 years ago | (#9823041)

Using someone else's code?

I can write all the code I want and it's mine... however if I do things with the code which violate existing patents I can get into trouble, even though the code it's self is mine.

That is often the problem with software patents, that a patent is granted in the loose steps of doing something, there are many ways code can be written to do the same thing, but many are covered by the patent, regardless of who writes the code or for what.

Bye Bye Creative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9822994)

I have owned SB Sound cards and only SB Sound Cards back since my first SB Pro and have only used SB cards in every machine I have ever specced or built for anyone. I even used Creative graphics cards a bit as they were reasonably priced and from a brand I knew.

Oh well there goes another vendor onto my bastards list. Never buying another creative product again. (Shame too as I had about £400 to spend on a new card for a machine to put vinyl onto CD)

Will Carmack change his mind about patents? (5, Interesting)

Anita Coney (648748) | about 10 years ago | (#9823014)

In "Masters of Doom" Carmack stated, either naively or bravely, that he refuses to file patents for his work as such information should not be locked away but should be free.

Now that he's been burned, I wonder if he'll start filing them as preemptive measures. I hate software patents, but I would if I were him.

Re:Will Carmack change his mind about patents? (1)

Babbster (107076) | about 10 years ago | (#9823184)

That really wouldn't help him get at the people causing the problem, and instead could stick it to the wrong people (like someone trying to code an open source game). If Carmack patents a hundred or a thousand software techniques, Creative wouldn't care because they're not going to use the techniques in their products. Besides, if he codes a technique before someone patents it then any future patent would be invalid due to his prior art.

Re:Will Carmack change his mind about patents? (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | about 10 years ago | (#9823278)

What I'm saying is that if he had patented his work first, Creative could not have snuck around and did it before him.

And it does not matter if he has prior art or not, the matter would still be ligitated over a period of several years costing millions and millions of dollars.

Re:Will Carmack change his mind about patents? (1)

Volmarias (705460) | about 10 years ago | (#9823309)

This assumes that he's going to sue anyone that uses his "patents." There's nothing to stop him from patenting nifty things he does and then saying "Ok guys, this is what it does. I won't sue anyone for infringement. Now, go knock your collective socks off!"

Of course, considering that patents cost money, it may well just not be feasable to patent everything he does.

Good discussion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9823030)

Although I could have done without Derek Smart spouting off. Claiming that .gif is dead is like him claiming that he is a phd.....

Re:Good discussion (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9823235)

He ruined the entire thread! Derek is the biggest fuckhead in the history of the universe.

Anonymous Coward, ph.D.

Source code to Doom3? (3, Funny)

Anita Coney (648748) | about 10 years ago | (#9823102)

Carmack usually allows access to the source code of his games after their markets have dried up. I wonder how this patent will effect that? Time will tell.

Man, it'd suck spending years writing a game engine from scratch, then having some numb-nut lawyer tell me that someone else owns a part of it.

And I am a numb-nut lawyer!

Re:Source code to Doom3? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9823263)

Cool, everyone please remember IAANNL

The consequences of two fundamental problems (1, Insightful)

Baldrson (78598) | about 10 years ago | (#9823130)

  1. The legal system biases "justice" toward those with money more than those with creative skills.
  2. Patents depend on the legal system.
Ergo those with creative skills are deprived of the money needed to pursue, not only their rights to more money, but are deprived of the money needed to pursue creations that require money (since the people expert at acquiring money rarely possess the insight necessary to understand the distinction between genuinely creative enterprise and some sort of false inspiration).

W. D. Hamilton wrote [] of this sort of thing as being the down-fall of civilizations:

The incursions of barbaric pastoralists seem to do civilizations less harm in the long run than one might expect. Indeed, two dark ages and renaissances in Europe suggest a recurring pattern in which a renaissance follows an incursion by about 800 years. It may even be suggested that certain genes or traditions of pastoralists revitalize the conquered people with an ingredient of progress which tends to die out in a large panmictic population for the reasons already discussed. I have in mind altruism itself, or the part of the altruism which is perhaps better described as self-sacrificial daring. By the time of the renaissance it may be that the mixing of genes and cultures (or of cultures alone if these are the only vehicles, which I doubt) has continued long enough to bring the old mercantile thoughtfulness and the infused daring into conjunction in a few individuals who then find courage for all kinds of inventive innovation against the resistance of established thought and practice. Often, however, the cost in fitness of such altruism and sublimated pugnacity to the individuals concerned is by no means metaphorical, and the benefits to fitness, such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed. Thus civilization probably slowly reduces its altruism of all kinds, including the kinds needed for cultural creativity (see also Eshel 1972). /blockquote

I stab at thee (2, Interesting)

Paladine97 (467512) | about 10 years ago | (#9823165)

Could this be an attempt to stay competitive now that Intel's High Definition Audio [] is coming?

With this advanced audio appearing on most of Intel's new boards, it would seem to me that Creative's market is disappearing.

Re:I stab at thee (2, Informative)

Anita Coney (648748) | about 10 years ago | (#9823247)

Every so often Intel tries to branch out. I remember when Intel came out with a graphics card to match its new AGP slot. I remember reading articles about how Intel was going to dominate the graphics market. That never happened.

A few years back Intel starting selling toys and peripherals. Those bombed.

Now Intel is starting to sell integrated audio on its boards. Maybe this time it will work, maybe Intel will dominate, but I doubt it.

Intel makes its money on CPUs. Anything that takes work away from the CPU takes away from Intel's profits. That's why USB is CPU dependant but FireWire isn't. So I seriously doubt that Intel will ever come up with a gaming audio system that doesn't drag down the CPU, requiring a CPU upgrade to get better performance.

Thin end of the wedge... (1)

_Pablo (126574) | about 10 years ago | (#9823293)

Shadowing is just the start, taken to it's logical conclusion patents are going to be filed covering every aspect of a game - from it's graphics through to it's gameplay and UI.

In the end an independent developer is going to be unable to work without spending more money on lawyers and licenses than on creating the game itself. The horror...the horror...

Creative support sucks (1)

Archfeld (6757) | about 10 years ago | (#9823311)

their products are shoddy and their performance poor. EAX has always been a DOG of a performer and truly hoses simple echo sounding.

Creative Labs, please die. (1)

leathered (780018) | about 10 years ago | (#9823329)

What is company in this day and age to do when faced with a much smaller competitor who with superior technology to their own. Go back to the drawing board and design better products for your customers? Perhaps reduce your prices or launch an advertising campaign? No, the answer is of course to sue them.

This is exactly what Creative did to Aureal. A3D 3.0 was to be a revolution in positional audio. Creative knew they were a threat and also knew that they did not have the means to survive a drawn out legal battle. They also put pressure on soundcard makers not to produce Vortex 2 cards under the suggestion that they might be liable for patent infrigement (does all of this sound familiar?). After Aureal's demise Creative bought their IP and now A3D 3.0 lies dormant in Craptive's vaults and will never see the light of day, instead we're left with the glorified reverb engine that is EAX.

So these latest shenanigans by Craptive don't surprise me one bit.
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