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358 comments

effff fuckin' peee. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703293)

oh my god, FRIST PROST.

ahhhhhhh.

That's what I was thinking! (5, Interesting)

ahsile (187881) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703302)

I quote:

"Common sense says it's ridiculous, and from a moral standpoint it's outrageous," anonymous employee at major publisher.

Re:That's what I was thinking! (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703339)

This is blatant patent squatting, and it's completely asinine that this sort of thing is legal. The entire purpose is to make money without actually doing anything, and the end result is that it stifles innovation. The patent system in this country needs a major overhaul.

Re:That's what I was thinking! (-1, Flamebait)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703635)

And Kerry, having made his fortune being a litigious bastard, is probably the least likely to reform the patent system. I hate Dubya as much as the next guy, but Kerry is a lawyer, and the last thing you'll ever see is legal reform.

Good luck America - I hope everything works out after today for you in a positive way.

Re:That's what I was thinking! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703706)

You suck. A lot.

Patents Run Out, Right? (3, Interesting)

lifeblender (806214) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703319)

If that was in 1988, how much longer will that patent last?

Re:Patents Run Out, Right? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703356)

2016--plenty of time to milk practically every major game publisher, and potentially any other software firm that uses any kind of spherical pseudo-3D graphics.

Re:Patents Run Out, Right? (2, Informative)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703400)

Patents are for 20 years. This one will run out on either April 6, 2007 or March 29, 2008 depending on if it runs out on the filing date or the publishing date. Thats assuming its not renewed for another 20 years.

Re:Patents Run Out, Right? (5, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703508)

To quote Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

As TRIPS agreement declares, the term of an issued patent is twenty years from earliest claimed filing date. In the United States, for applications filed prior to June 8, 1995, the patent term is seventeen years from the issue date. For applications filed on or after June 8, 1995, the term is twenty years from the earliest claimed filing date. The rules for patents in force and pending at the transition date (June 8, 1995) are significantly more complicated but grant the patentee whichever term is longer.

Re:Patents Run Out, Right? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703564)

US Patents can't be "renewed." 20 years from filing and that's it (it used to be 17 years from issuance, but the law changed in 1995).

There are "maintenance fees" required to keep it alive during that whole time (due at 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years from issuance), but you don't get to "renew" for another 20. At least not in the US. And not anywhere else in the world that I know of, either.

Re:Patents Run Out, Right? (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703644)

but you don't get to "renew" for another 20

Sorry, my bad. Thought that they courld get renewed for a second period. Must be thinking of copyrights which get automatically renewd.

Re:Patents Run Out, Right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703673)

Um, maintenance fees? Never heard of this. Correct one mistake to make another?

Vertical business model (5, Insightful)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703323)

Have lawyers finally realized "why sue (and win) for others if we can do the same thing for ourselves"?

Now the middlemen are selling direct! You own a patent, you file a lawsuit, and you take all the profits^H^H^H^H^H^H^H compensation.

The article has mentioned enough "common sense" and "ridiculous" so I guess we have get the point.

What's interesting is why/how did a law firm get this patent? Did it 'invent' 3D on monitor, or did it purchased the patent from a third party? The patent's inventor is "Waller, William G. (Portland, OR)" but McKool Smith is claiming these 12 companies infringed on their (not their client's) patent.

Either way, it's going to get ugly because this is a law firm, it probably has all the resources and knowledge to do well in court, and we all know owner-operators usually work harder.

Lol teh funny!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703328)

LOL teh funny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!Reason: Your comment looks too much like ascii art.

I wish I could buy stock in law firms (4, Funny)

four2five (645777) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703330)

Because they seem to be the largest growth industry as of late. This is ridiculous, just like the Eolas patent.....Ben Franklin's descendants should try and patent electricity, it just might go through in the systems current state.

Re:I wish I could buy stock in law firms (2, Funny)

Sexy Bern (596779) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703567)

The powers that be would know watt the resistance would be like.

Snowballing (4, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703334)

A few more such patents, and this will end up snowballing companies into realizing how futile their patents are.

Slowly, companies are beginning to realize that although they could make money suing people, they could also get sued by equally greedy asshats.

It's only a matter of time. You can only be so stupid.

Re:Snowballing (1)

FroBugg (24957) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703618)

That's why the companies with the patents don't actually produce anything. They're just lawyers who buy patents and go around suing. They don't actually do anything that could infringe on patents held by others.

Get ready for the ultimate submarine attack (5, Interesting)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703677)

It's only a matter of time before China finishes off the rest of the lot.

China's economy is booming precisely because they don't have any of this ridiculous patenting.

Once China has the upper hand, it could turn around, rifle through the patents, scoop up all the ones owned by anyone willing to sell them and launch an attack against the remaining copmanies with them.

Forget missles, baby! Here come the patent-wars!

Re:Snowballing (1)

FreeIPODs (797372) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703689)

Hmmm how about if I make a patent on "making money from suing someone for infringing on a patent". Then I can rake in double the rewards mwahah

This is why software patents (5, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703335)

should expire after 5 years. I am generally an advocate of patents for VERY SPECIFIC things that obviously required a lot of R&D, but lets face it, if you can't make money off a patent in 5 years, you are in the wrong industry........

Re:This is why software patents (3, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703384)

Not necessarily.

The problem is that some ideas are not quite scaleable, and the technology nor adoption may exist at the time of filing the patent.

Hence the longer duration given for adoption of a patented technology.

It's a very valid and nice reason, unfortunately lawyer motherfuckers like these abuse the system.

Re:This is why software patents (1)

eln (21727) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703420)

Even if the patented technology can be built right now, it could take more than 5 years just to find the funding to turn it into a viable business, and even if the funding is found, it could take more than 5 years to turn a profit. I agree with the idea that patents should be granted only for very specific things, but the duration of a patent as it stands is probably about right.

Re:This is why software patents (5, Funny)

operagost (62405) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703597)

The problem is that some ideas are not quite scaleable, and the technology nor adoption may exist at the time of filing the patent.
In that case, I'm filing the patent for my antimatter engine now.

Re:This is why software patents (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703707)

In that case, I'm filing the patent for my antimatter engine now.

Good luck. I tried filing for a patent on an auntie-matter engine, but my Mother's sister wouldn't go for it.

Re:This is why software patents (2, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703448)

Seeing as how one computer generation elapses about every 18 to 24 months, how about 4 or 4.5 years for an experation? And one that also requires you to have a working implementation at time of filing? That way you get people that actually develope something instead of patenting where the market is going.

Re:This is why software patents (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703620)

And one that also requires you to have a working implementation at time of filing?

The problem with this is that it'd discourage individuals from sharing their innovative ideas. Most individuals cannot compete on a monitary scale with the R&D funds available to large corporations. Yet individuals have just as innovative ideas as members of large corporations. These innovative ideas should not be stifled due to lack of funds.

Any idea what games they're talking about? (1)

Pxtl (151020) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703345)

Molyneux, I'm looking in your direction... but lots of games had spherical texture views of the gameworld, but they were usually just representing a simple rectangular map, like in SimEarth and StarControl II.

Re:Any idea what games they're talking about? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703574)

From what I know, the patent in question was purchased by a company called American Video Graphics, whose business model seems to be litigation.

As I understand it, they claim that any game where you can rotate the camera around your character is covered, so just about any 3rd person game. And any hardware that performs this, so graphics card manufacturers and makers of video game consoles are also being sued. They are sure shooting for the moon on this one.

Imagine a world without lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703349)

NT

Re:Imagine a world without lawyers (3, Funny)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703441)

Imagine a world without lawyers

Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.

You may draw the analogy ;)

Re:Imagine a world without lawyers (1)

stanmann (602645) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703573)

It is of course a faulty analogy, since when peace is threatened by those with bad intentions, the solution is to resist them not to yeild, hence fighting for freedom. The result of fighting is peace, the result of yielding is fascism(from fasce meaning bundle of sticks derived from latin via italian and refering to the bundle of sticks the emperor used to beat people, ok the last part was a joke, it actually was a symbol of the power of a union).

Re:Imagine a world without lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703715)

And the result of removing the stick buried up your ass is the ability to see the humor in the grandparent. Cheers!

fp? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703352)

fp?

patent on spherical planning (5, Funny)

stanmann (602645) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703354)

So is this patent on Pi? or just on a technique for simulating depth, for prior art, do I need to pull up van gogh or dali? or just mario 1?

San Andreas (1)

uggis (824983) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703355)

Oh, no. No I don't dare to play more of GTA: San Andreas

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703358)

I win

Vote Kerry

uspto (4, Informative)

Coneasfast (690509) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703361)

uspto link [uspto.gov]

Re:uspto (1)

MORB (793798) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703650)

The claims are very broad.

They include representing 3d data by defining an orientation, a distance from the viewer, a projection type and so on, as well as manipulating the orientation using three angles, by transforming the data from a space to another...
This is very basic and covers roughly anything displaying interactive 3d on a 2d screen...

I'm pretty sure that there's some [the-underdogs.org] prior [the-underdogs.org] art [passagen.se].

Re:uspto (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703737)

This is very basic and covers roughly anything displaying interactive 3d on a 2d screen...

Makes you wonder why they aren't suing any CAD hardware or software vendors.

News Flash: Duke Nukem Forever Delayed (5, Funny)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703368)

Due to pending lawsuit.

Re:News Flash: Duke Nukem Forever Delayed (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703538)

Duke Nukem? Forever delayed?

Sorry...but it already came out. And Apogee made damn good game of it. (I remember beating it on my 386. That, and Jill of the Jungle, which still has one of my favorite music soundtracks of all time.)

ILM could be next (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703370)

"...a method that uses a moving plane to show 3-D image..."

Sounds like the 2 1/2 D methods pioneered by ILM and used by nearly every compositing/post house on the planet.

Ruh-roh.

Lucky for Duke Nukem Forever (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703372)

By the time it comes out the patent will be expired!

Re:Lucky for Duke Nukem Forever (1)

Elm Tree (17570) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703452)

What do you mean? I pre-ordered it three years ago. I'm fully expecting it to come out any day now.

Sound familiar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703375)

This sounds very similar to this [fooishbar.org].

Higher Prices for Videogames : Here we come (1)

mzkhadir (693946) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703385)

Because of this litigation, we might see higher prices for video games. Video Games don't sell well for $50, they sell great for $20 dollars. Why am I willing to pay 50+ for a video game because of this lawsuit.

Re:Higher Prices for Videogames : Here we come (1)

ahsile (187881) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703454)

It's almost gaurunteed that you will see higher prices from the smaller firms since the tactic seems to be:

"McKool Smith is financing their major litigation against the 12 publishers by threatening smaller companies and then getting them to settle," the employee continued.


This is especially sad since most smaller firms are already charging more for games since the cost of production and smaller printing runs cost more. Then tag on the cost of lawsuit settlements because of a stupid patent like this...

Say bye bye to innovation from the little guys!

What's next, a suit by Dewey Cheatum and Howe? (4, Funny)

MooseByte (751829) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703396)


"The patent is ridiculously broad. It's purely McKool Smith trying to make money. It's an abuse of the legal system"

McKool Smith? WTF kind of name is that for a law firm? Sounds like a shakedown scam operation from GTA:San Andreas.

Re:What's next, a suit by Dewey Cheatum and Howe? (1)

mistersooreams (811324) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703649)

McKool Smith? WTF kind of name is that for a law firm?

I'm sure I ordered a McKool Smith in McDonald's the other day. Tasted of bullshit.

Some day, lawyers will be gone (2, Interesting)

Electric Eye (5518) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703397)

And I hope that day comes sooner rather than later. This is about as asinine as suing others over "patenting" online coupons or graphical images. With every day I live, the more I despise lawyers. Vioxx lawsuits, personal injury attorneys, bogus technology patent lawsuits... It never ends. It's next to impossible to do business in this country anymore. Please, lord, make it stop!!

quick!! (1)

xutopia (469129) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703401)

1) read slashdot story on "Method and Apparatus for Spherical Planning" 2) patent "Method and Apparatus for Cubic Planning" 3) wait 16 years 4) profit!!!

Just make a game... (1)

Ionizer7 (814098) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703407)

That doesn't use spheres. Sports games can just use a cube shaped ball.

To a first approximation.... (2)

BitwizeGHC (145393) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703563)

a cube IS a sphere. There'll be a way for lawyers to wrest patent infringement out of cubes, too. I suppose Plato could claim prior art on his solids, though...

6 am (0, Offtopic)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703412)

My submission at 6am EST had more links & info.

Jaysyn

Re:6 am (1)

Andr0s (824479) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703614)

And my lawyers had the patent on 'posts regarding lawyer companies suing professional companies for infringement of ridiculous and vague patents'. Thus, expect to hear from my lawyers about your attempt to infringe.

Blame the patent system (5, Insightful)

Underholdning (758194) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703480)

"The patent is ridiculously broad. It's purely McKool Smith trying to make money"
Actually, I don't want to waste my breath calling McKool Smith names. The big perpetrator here is the patent system and the patent offices who allows these general patents.

High Tech Gold indeed (5, Insightful)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703486)

Here [mckoolsmith.com] is an article that discusses how Kool, Smith uses data mining techniques to find patent violations. This is apparently the focus of their practice and the article mentions some of their clients.

To give you an idea of where they are coming from, and it's purely money, here is the title of another article featuring McKool, Smith: Patent field yields high-tech gold"

I think that tells us that we will see more and more of this.

Good riddance! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703491)

Does this mean the end of all those overused Matrix-style shots? I sure hope so.

Not sued by McKool (4, Informative)

GuyZero (303599) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703512)

For those who find it odd that a law firm would own such a patent, they don't. The editors managed to munge this somehow... a quick trip to the patent database here [uspto.gov] shows that th epatent is currently assigned to Tektronix, which makes a bit more sense. As an old, slowly dying company, Tektronix is doing what many companies do and seeking to "monetize their intellectual property assets", which unfortunately involves suing the living bejezus out of everyone in sight.

I always thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703517)

3D games would be the death of the game industry.

But more because of the tradition of letting the greenest coder figure out the camera positioning and 3D collision algorithms than because of patents.

Hopefully Fred J. McAwesome, Esq. will show up with some prior art on this.

This is (mainstream) newsworthy (1)

DarkGamer (462552) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703522)

Perhaps this will be what finally makes the general public take notice and demand patent reform. One-click shopping was just an inconvenience for web developers and offended only the well-informed. If they try and mess with the largest developers of neo-hollywood, to mess with the new supply of games to the general public... This could potentially get media attention, and a lot of it.

CAD programs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703524)

Haven't CAD programs like Autocad been out for years? I know Autodesk has been in business for over 20 years. Isn't this prior art?

Remeber to vote! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703528)

It doesn't matter who you vote for, so long as you get out and vote! (and they're white)

Wow, one employee's opinion... (2)

balaam's ass (678743) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703542)

Not to troll, but, couldn't this journalist have done a little more than just quote from one anonymous employee of a major publisher?

Minor typo and some more info on the patent (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703547)

Typo first; the patent is actually for a "Method and apparatus for spherical panning", not "planning" (GameDAILY got this wrong too) and appears to have originally been assigned to Tektronix, perhaps best known for making printers and, IIRC, UNIX Terminals.

To quote the abstract from the USPTO page [uspto.gov]: "A graphics display terminal performs a pan operation with respect to a view motion center to effectuate spherical panning, thereby providing perspective and non-perspective views. Three dimensional instructions stored in terminal memory are re-transformed in accordance with a panned direction. Also a zoom feature is provided so that displayed images may be magnified as desired." Which makes it totally clear... NOT!

Re:Minor typo and some more info on the patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703655)

I believe that the real plaintiff is not Tektronix, but rather purchased the patent from them.

They seem to think that it covers any game where you can rotate the camera around a character, so just about any third person game. And they don't consider the patent limited to software. Companies that make graphics cards that enable this technique are targets as well.

Re:Minor typo and some more info on the patent (1)

stanmann (602645) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703731)

Which makes much more sense(than planning) and means that it potentially covers anything with dynamic perspective and a moving camera. IOW, if they are using the specific technique described, I'm assuming there are formulae and possibly algorithms then the infringing companies should pay up.

From the patent (5, Informative)

claytongulick (725397) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703555)

What is claimed is:

1. A three-dimensional panning method comprising the steps of:

storing applied graphic information representing a three-dimensional object in a first three-dimensional coordinate modeling space;

defining a second three-dimensional coordinate space as a viewing space from which the object may be viewed, the viewing space being movable at a selected radial distance around a selected reference point in the modeling space;

inputting and storing further information including panning information specifying a position from which to view the object;

moving the viewing space to the specified position in response to the panning information, effecting a transform of the coordinates of the object to the viewing space and to a two-dimensional coordinate screen space; and

displaying a two-dimensional image of the transformed coordinates, providing a view of the object from the panned-to-position.

2. The method of claim 1 where the step of moving the viewing space includes the step of orienting said viewing space with respect to the object, by varying at least one of pitch, yaw, and roll attitudes of said viewing space.

3. The method of claim 1 where the step of inputting further information includes the step of identifying a center of projection relative to the specified view position.

4. The method of claim 1 where the step of inputting further information includes the step of specifying a radial distance at which the object may be viewed.

5. The method of claim 1 where the step of inputting further information includes the step of specifying viewing window size as a degree of magnification of the displayed image.

6. The method of claim 1 where the step of inputting further information includes the step of specifying one of parallel and perspective transforms.

7. Apparatus for performing a three-dimensional panning operation, comprising:

memory means for storing entered information including applied graphic and panning information and a control program, the graphic information representing a three-dimensional object in a first three-dimensional coodinate modeling space;

input means for entering information including panning information for panning to a selected position from which to view the object;

processing means coupled to the input and memory means, and responsive to the panning information and execution of the program, for defining a second three-dimensional coordinate space as a viewing space from which the object may be observed, and for moving the viewing space, a selected radial distance around a selected reference point in the modeling space, to the selected position, effecting a transform of the coordinates of the object to the viewing space and to a two-dimensional coordinate screen space; and

means for displaying a two-dimensional image of the transformed coordinates, providing a view of the object from the panned-to position.

8. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the processing means includes a means for orienting the viewing space with respect to the object, by varying at least one of pitch, yaw, and roll attitudes of said viewing space.

9. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the input means includes a means for identifying a center of projection relative to the selected view position.

10. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the input mean includes a means for specifying a radial distance at which the object may be viewed.

11. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the input means includes a means for specifying a view window size as a degree of magnification of the displayed image.

12. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the input means includes a means for specifying one of parallel and perspective transforms.

Patenting the pastels (3, Insightful)

Andr0s (824479) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703569)

This is ridiculous.

I find the fact they're trying to claim the feasibility of patenting a, for computer graphics, very basic concept, nearly as amusing as the fact that they were allowed to patent it in the first place.

Having checked US Patent Database [uspto.gov] for the description of the said patent, I think I'll go ahead and patent... oh... 'Method of creating secondary colors by combining the three primary colors' ? The matter adressed by this patent is, IMVHO, not unique intelectual property - it describes a potential approach to a certain problem on an abstract plane, without describing practical solutions?

Disclaimer: I lack sufficient knowledge of legalese, so I might have missread and missinterpreted the patent description. However, my modesty prevents me from admitting I might be wrong.

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703579)

His last name is McKool and he's not a public awareness figure!?

I should get a Patent on suing people... (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703582)

i would make BILLIONS! is there a patent on thinking yet?

Re:I should get a Patent on suing people... (1)

UWC (664779) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703726)

is there a patent on thinking yet?

Yes, and patent officials don't want to pay the licensing fees to do it.

Why only game publishers? (2, Interesting)

nz_mincemeat (192600) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703589)

If that patent really has a leg to stand on, why not sue 3d app makers like Alias as well? Surely there's more profit that way...

Or are they counting on the game companies to simply settle?

Get 'm where it hurts (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703591)

From the article: "McKool Smith is financing their major litigation against the 12 publishers by threatening smaller companies and then getting them to settle"

So they threaten some smaller companies, some of those could give in, and settlements provide the ammo for going after bigger fish (sounds very much SCO tactics to me).

Maybe some of those big boys should step in and help with legal support for the small guys (eg. in a legal defense fund), so that this McKool firm has a hard time getting any settlements. That could also decrease the funds available to McKool to battle those big boys later on.

it it only were for "planning"... (1)

geg81 (816215) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703600)

A patent on "spherical planning" (maybe something related to planning sequences of viewpoints under contraints) might have had some novelty in the 1980's.

This patent seems to be on being able to "spherically pan", i.e., change the direction you are looking into, in a 3D graphics system. The claimed novelty, such as it is, isn't even that, it seems to be that the 3D models are "downloaded" and that the user can manipulate them "locally" within the 3D graphics "terminal".

The problems with this patent claim?
  • It shouldn't even have been granted in 1988.
  • Even if it were valid, the hardware manufacturers, not the game authors, would be infringing it.
  • Modern 3D graphics systems have a completely different structure. In fact, they have just the structure that the patent derides as "inefficient".


But, I think it is great when the "McKool Smith's" of this world go out and start sueing everybody in sight. As long as the patent system only harms the little inventor and small companies, nothing is going to happen. But when the big boys get inconvenienced by lawsuits, maybe things will change.

Another failure of the 'obviousness' test (5, Informative)

ThosLives (686517) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703631)

I actually read the patent [uspto.gov] and it's basically a patent on using matrix transforms to set up a model space and a viewer. Considering I wrote something that does this in about 2 hours about 2 weeks ago, does that mean I'm infringing upon this patent? I used simple coordinate transforms that I learned in geometry. Should it be possible to patent mathematical processes? (IMHO, no, since you should be the discoverer of something - but discovery is not the same as ownership!)

The thing we ought to, as responsible slashdotters, push on the USPTO is not even "prior art" as most of the crowd pushes on, but the "unobvious to one skilled in the art" clause. Anyone who deals with coordinate transforms - in physics, graphics, or whatever, would have come up with the use of matrix manipulations to view graphics information based on viewer position. The other half of this "invention" is manipulating the viewpoints in a manner which emulates reality - basically it's a patent for an interface which is the same as you or I walking around an object to get a different vantage point.

That aside, there is the issue that 3D graphics have been out in the mainstream for over 10 years and nobody brought this patent up. I hope they're going to lose on statute of limitations.

Perhaps we should draft and file a Friend of the Court brief?

Bullet Time (1)

marktaw.com (816752) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703632)

A graphics display terminal performs a pan operation with respect to a view motion center to effectuate spherical panning, thereby providing perspective and non-perspective views. Three dimensional instructions stored in terminal memory are re-transformed in accordance with a panned direction. Also a zoom feature is provided so that displayed images may be magnified as desired.

Is it me, or does it sound like they patented Bullet Time?

Also, can someone tell me exactly what this means?:

This is a continuation of application Ser. No. 633,156, filed July 20, 1984 and now abandoned.

In any case, if I were the judge I would throw this out. People have been panning like this for decades using mechanical cranes, circular railway tracks, and so forth. It's only natural that they would want to do this in a digital medium as well.

Prior art (2, Insightful)

CokoBWare (584686) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703641)

Atari ST, Amiga, and even C64 had some games that all had 3-D rendered environments... before 1989... All someone needs to do is dig up these games (I can't remember their names) and show the prior art. I think these lawyers will eventually lose their stupid patent infringement bullshit crap and they'll get beat up on by some other large nasty lawyers who are good at beating up stupid lawyers.

prior art... Movies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703681)

the patent itself details a method of panning which I have seen in movies long before the patent was filed. I would really like to see some prior art, but frankly I'm too lazy to search it out.

This patent is in fact majestic in my oppinion. It's written in such jibberish that I can't possibly imagine that the patent office let this one pass without further defination of terminology. The wording itself was chosen to work as a tremendous blanket.

From what I can read of the patent (I'm not a lawyer and I haven't had the time to completely review the patent in detail) it appears that they're describing a means for which a 3d model can be stored in memory (not clarifying format or volitile/non-volitile storage) and reprent the model from the perspective of a camera view. Controls may or may not be provided to allow interaction between the user and the camera and may/may not provide zooming.

Their patent literally covers nothing more than a wire frame viewer with yaw/pitch/roll/zoom controls. This is what I can read at least.

Now, I know for a fact that when I was in the 7th grade in 1988, I was already typing in a program that I found in the magazine Compute! which did exactly what this patent describes. I believe the article might have been as much as a year old, so if anyone has an archive of these magazines, I am sure tha prior art could be found there.

Also, I don't know whether or not a concept patent can be beaten with graphics from movies, but I have to assume that a person rotating a 3d model (on a 2d screen not a hologram, star wars doesn't count) was used as a special effect.

Anyone who can think of anything should help to present the prior art on this one. The claim itself is worse than ridiculos.

McCool Smith is yet to learn the golden rule... (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703691)

...whoever has the gold, makes the rules.

Patent fishing never works if you are too ambitious and go after the big bucks right out of the gate. How many examples of this have we seen here on /.?

Sue a couple of small fish. Get favorable court time first. Then go for the gold.

It's like the Vikings have said for ages - pillage first, then burn!

It's about time (0, Troll)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703701)

These thieves have been stealing others hard work for years. Crush them and liberate the indy game business

Go go lunix yoda doll

Waiting 16 years is ridiculous (2, Interesting)

d_jedi (773213) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703702)

The patent itself seems legitimate enough (there's actually technical detail, there.. and I'm not certain how much was known or "obvious" about 3D graphics in the late '80s).. but waiting 16 years to file suit is simply ridiculous.

Isn't there some provision that says the patent holder must try to minimize damages? Or am I thinking of something else (trademark?)

Prior art - 1983 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10703727)

Bowyer, A. & Woodwark, J.R. (1983) A Programmer's Geometry Butterworths ISBN 0-408-01242-0

Toward the end of the book - the entire first claim is provided - all subroutines necessary for panning.

Hell - I even did my first 3d movie in tectronix 4010 escape sequences using them (moving around a cube - it looked like the cube was rotating except for the offset center).

Have to find my 1988 graphics course textbook (1)

onebitcpu (682182) | more than 9 years ago | (#10703734)

I'm pretty sure that it described a number of ways of doing 3d-graphics, and I'm pretty sure it included software methods that match what their patent for a graphics terminal claims as a wonderful new idea.
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