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Gorg
09-21-2003, 05:54 PM
http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parse...ac&RS=Rossignac (http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/search-bool.html&r=27&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=ptxt&s1=Rossignac&OS=Rossignac&RS=Rossignac)

I found that link on gamedev.net
http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?whichpage=1&pagesize=20&topic_id=181647

I thought some people here might find that interesting.

john
09-21-2003, 08:25 PM
From the forum:

I think it is rediculous for people to patent algorithms like this
yer... how dare someone copyright intellectual property. damned inventors.

I was told, once, that a method of drawing a mouse cursor by XORing the cursor with the display was patented. By XORing the cursor sprite, you could delete it by XORing the sprite over the old position. Ingenious!

Other favourite patents include exercising a cat by shining a torch on the floor and moving the spotlight in patterns, and the copyright attached to the frowny : - ( (tm)

Pentagram
09-22-2003, 02:49 AM
I don't understand to get a patent you have to mantain "secrecy", no?
There are 100's of programs online that use the technique, not counting the fact that Carmack told it to alot of people.
Unless they did it in 1985 or so, they won't get the patent or if they skipped the "precedent" research it won't hold up in court. http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/biggrin.gif http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/biggrin.gif

Charles

[This message has been edited by Pentagram (edited 09-22-2003).]

john
09-22-2003, 03:37 AM
the idea of patents is that is not secret, so you can tell if someone is copying you. that's why some people gamble on the difficulty of the thing they've invented (some kind of glue springs to mind; I saw it on a documentary, once) and NOT patent IP. that way no one will know how they did it and can't duplicate what you've done. (Patents only last for so long and then it's a freeforall).

Having said that, many people are of the opinion that the USA patent office doesn't do as thorough background check as it could. If the people with this shadow patent can demonstrate that they invented the shadow algorithm before john carmack, then... well, a lot of people are going to have to fork out royalties. :-(

Pentagram
09-22-2003, 03:48 AM
I taught you had to keep it secret untill you ask your patent. When you ask the patent you make it public so that when the x-years are over everyone can benifit from it, that's the idea of a patent...

Charles

rgpc
09-22-2003, 04:16 AM
Originally posted by john:
If the people with this shadow patent can demonstrate that they invented the shadow algorithm before john carmack, then...


You are aware, of course, that Carmack did not invent "Carmacks reverse". It's quite probable that the people that put the patent on this technique are in fact the people who came up with the idea (or at least their version of it).

Apparently a guy (in Oz) applied for, and got, a patent for the wheel last year.

Jan
09-22-2003, 05:24 AM
Know what? When i read of Carmack´s reverse, i thought: "Why is this genius? I would have done it the same way and a lot of other people certainly have done that before in their Hobby-projects, and now JC gets all the credit for such a simple idea."

I mean, what is so special about that algorithm? Instead of having the problems at the near-plane, you have the problems at the far-plane, which makes it more suitable for indoor-games, or am i wrong here?

So, if one does real research, i am sure, that you will find some programmer or maths-professor, who already wrote about that algorithm (or implemented it) in the 80s.

In my oppinion "patents" and "software" are two things, which just don´t belong together. The problem is, that politicians, who decide what can be patented, just don´t know anything about software.

Tomorrow i will patent the concept of "walking forwards", then all of you have to walk backwards, or sidewards, or whatever. Else you will have to pay for it.

Jan.

Humus
09-22-2003, 07:34 AM
Patents, when done right, is a good thing. It protects investments and encourages innonvation. When it's done the wrong way, like patenting overly simple ideas or things someone else actually invented or something that's public, then it is counterproductive and creates artificial monopolies.

Carmack's reversed is something I would file under the latter. An idea that's not advanced enough to be called an invention, and which has also been public for quite some time.

Tom Nuydens
09-22-2003, 07:41 AM
Originally posted by Jan2000:
I mean, what is so special about that algorithm? Instead of having the problems at the near-plane, you have the problems at the far-plane, which makes it more suitable for indoor-games, or am i wrong here?

So, if one does real research, i am sure, that you will find some programmer or maths-professor, who already wrote about that algorithm (or implemented it) in the 80s.

I don't think so -- stencil shadows were invented in 1991 http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif

Also, just because the algorithm is simple doesn't mean that it's obvious. There really are no publications that describe the zfail approach prior to 1999, and if you read about some of the other attempted solutions (e.g. Paul Diefenbach's image-space capping or Mark Kilgard's "near plane ledge") you'll see that these previous attempts were pretty horrifying.

The main reason why the zfail algorithm is important is not because it moves the capping problem from the near plane to the far plane as you say, but because it paved the way for the first totally robust solution (infinite shadow volumes).

Oh, and Bilodeau filed for the patent in 1999 (it took two and a half years to get approved!?), whereas the mail in which Carmack describes the idea to Mark Kilgard is dated May 2000, so the patent is valid.

-- Tom

V-man
09-22-2003, 08:35 AM
I thought stencil shadows (the original) were invented back in 1977 or something by Crow.

dorbie
09-22-2003, 08:40 AM
There are so many patents out there that writing graphics software (and even trivial GUI software) is a potential minefield. Fortunately not everyone wields their patents in an attempt to extort unfair enrichment from the community in the same way that, for example, Unisys did over LZW compression in gif images, or suppress competition the way Adobe has attempted.

OK, Creative patented this, but nobody has pursued any claims over this, and highlighting it is exactly the kind of thing that might get some pointy haired type at whatever organization that has inherited this I.P thinking he's earned a piece of your pie.

There are at least three parallel inventions of this idea on record now but claiming it is obvious might be a bit of a stretch considering the earlier efforts to solve the problem by other means.

Kudos to Michael Songy, and William Bilodeau, the inventors of reverse stencil testing who have been uncredited until now.

jwatte
09-22-2003, 08:49 AM
Apparently the poster SimmerD claims he publicly described, at a Creative developer conference, z-fail testing before the alleged patent was filed.

In my opinion, there is a problem with the advanced state of software research vs. the patent office. Ideas will often not be published, because they're rejected as "trivial". This means they're not described in literature, and thus the patent office won't find it when doing a search, and thus the patent will be issued because they couldn't find prior art.

dorbie
09-22-2003, 08:52 AM
Crow didn't render to a stencil buffer. I think he counted ray intersections with the extruded volume walls, but I haven't read the paper. zpass stencil buffer shadows is approximately a parallel hardware implementation of that algorithm.

[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 09-22-2003).]

dorbie
09-22-2003, 09:00 AM
Well I hope SimmerD kept his slides or that someone was taking notes. If they saw his presentation at the Creative dev conference and then patented the idea that would be pretty darned low. I've noticed some developers have very selective memories when it comes to invention.

AdrianD
09-22-2003, 09:57 AM
there are lot of patents out there.
just take a look at this, and cry:
http://www.es.com/about_eands/patents/index.asp
http://patenting-art.com/database/cmpadobe.htm
http://ca.com/patents/
http://www.databank.oxydex.com/prospecting_for_knowledge/3-D_Graphics.html


[This message has been edited by AdrianD (edited 09-22-2003).]

Cab
09-22-2003, 10:02 AM
Originally posted by Humus:
[B]Patents, when done right, is a good thing. It protects investments and encourages innonvation. When it's done the wrong way, like patenting overly simple ideas or things someone else actually invented or something that's public, then it is counterproductive and creates artificial monopolies.
B]

Patents, in general, when done right, can be a good thing.
Software patents, algorithms patents in my opinion are a bad thing. Most software patents are related to ideas and algorithms that any clever programmer or designer can reach if they work on the patented topic (without any known of the existence of the patent or any previous work).
And software patents are so diffuse that never can be done right so, using your argument, they are a bad thing.
There are many patents that can affect your code, not only stupid patents like Amazon’s one click: http://www.ross.net/compression/patents_by_coverage.html http://www.jmargolin.com/patents/5577913.htm
Or search at: http://www.uspto.gov/patft/index.html
for “video game” or other topics (companies like Atari, Pixar, ...). For example: 4572509, 4126851, 4034990,
Probably you have read a couple of weeks ago about MS paying for infringing a patent of plugings embedded in web pages: http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/09/03/HNmicrosoftsloss_1.html
There are a lot of examples...

Now we have a problem, here at Europe, where companies like BSA (Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, ...) and other corporations interested in, are trying to impose a similar system that has been demonstrated as wrong in the USA to control what is developed and ensuring that nobody is going to make a product that can compete with theirs.

You can read an open letter from Linus Torvalds sent to the European Parliament at: http://www.effi.org/patentit/patents_torvalds_cox.txt

You can read about the problem (and sign against them) here: http://www.ffii.org/index.en.html

deadalive
09-24-2003, 07:18 AM
"Patents only last for so long "
Sure, only 20 years, that's not long, only about the same amount of time our industry has existed!

"Tomorrow i will patent the concept of "walking forwards", then all of you have to walk backwards, or sidewards, or whatever. Else you will have to pay for it."
Jan that is such a good example of a patents affect on an industry!
They are just wrong, they should have been abolished years ago, like slavery.

"Patents, when done right, is a good thing"
Maybe for a new toothpaste ingredient, or something REALLY original, but not code snippets or design, these things should go no further than copyrights.. like drawings or other IP you cannot and should not be allowed to patent. For software, how can the following effect possibly be good?
"control what is developed and ensure that nobody is going to make a product that can compete"

What if say AOL patented the idea of accessing the internet, forcing us to use AOL?
This is an extreme example but I can just see something like that happening and totally screwing everyone..

"There really are no publications that describe the zfail approach prior to 1999"
There were no publications that told me how to build a DLL file with my particular compiler.
I should run out and get a patent for my original technique, so nobody can build their DLLs without paying me. That will help drive innovation in the industry alright.

There is no good reason why patents should exist. They are going to destroy this industry if we don't do something to prevent that, and I'm not sure there is much we can do besides attempting to educate our politicians, who could give a damn about us.. There should be a central site dedicated to educating programmers about these patents, so we don't accidentally violate one. Kind of a "technique graveyard" if you will, that can also emphasize the dishonerability and detrimental effects of patents in the software industry.

deadalive
09-24-2003, 08:22 AM
following the above links, the guy from Autodesk(Mitch Kapor in 1994..)
summed it up nicely with this line.
"Let us stand on each others' shoulders, rather than on each others' toes"

There is so much opposition from so many companies, and programming is clearly similar to mathematics, why are patents still an issue? Is microsoft paying the gov or patent office a little extra to keep this up?? Is there anything we can do, or should we all move to europe where U.S. patents can't affect us? I'm almost afraid to write code knowing all this is happening..

dorbie
09-24-2003, 09:12 AM
This is a link to a presentation given at GDC in March 1999 that describes zfail stencil tested shadow volumes:
http://developer.nvidia.com/attach/1807

In D3D STENCILZFAIL is a single token that refers to a stencil pass and depth buffer fail fragment path. When the stencil comparrison is ALWAYS then you have the stencil inverts (or increments and decrements) on all zfails. Both are described in the presentation.

It still mentions the need for near capping when it is far capping that is required by the algorithm, although it also mentions capping at the view frustum in what I think is a reference to far capping (based on context).

[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 09-24-2003).]

deshfrudu
09-24-2003, 10:58 AM
This really isn't a problem, as the patent is too specific. Check the description:

"A method for real-time shadow rendering in a 3-D graphics scene uses an inverted z-test to mark a shadow area in a stencil buffer. Front and back facing shadow volume polygons are rendered subsequent to rendering the scene and corresponding stencil buffer entries are incremented for pixels viewing the back facing polygon when the new z-test is passed and decremented for pixels viewing the front facing polygons when the new z-test is passed. The new z-test is passed for pixels having depth (z) values greater than the corresponding depth value stored z-buffer."

So, instead of incrementing back-facing/decrementing front-facing, do the opposite (decrement back-facing/increment front-facing). It's functionally identical since you're eventually just testing for zero equality or non-equality, not greater or less than. Crisis averted.

Jan
09-24-2003, 11:04 AM
Plus, if you render front and back faces at once (seperate stencil thingy), it won´t be patented, either.

Hm, have to get to the patent office...

dorbie
09-24-2003, 11:12 AM
IANAL but you seem to missunderstand how patents work in the USA. The description is an aid to understanding the claims. It is the claims section of the patent that legally defines what is claimed and potentially owned by the inventor. There are often discalimers like "The description represents a single embodiment of the invention is not intended to limit our claims on other implementations which should now be apparent to one skilled in the art.", I'll leave it to you to find the disclaimer in this patent even if it ain't in there the claims still exist.

jwatte
09-24-2003, 01:00 PM
deshfrudu,
Even if the claim is specific to "incrementing" and "decrementing" (which isn't certain), patent cases often come down to finding whether you're substantially similar, and/or whether you've re-designed your algorithm just to avoid the patent -- in that case, the patent is still assumed to cover your re-design. At least, I think that a patent lawyer might tell you something like that, if you asked him. I'm fairly confused by the whole issue, and would recommend not making any too hard and fast promises of non-infringement unless you're a lawyer, and on retainer.

Jan2000,
I don't think that that description excludes an approach where you use separate stencil, because it doesn't talk about individual ordering between the stencil operations.

OldMan
09-24-2003, 02:34 PM
I am glad I live in a country with more advanced patent laws.

dorbie
09-24-2003, 03:09 PM
I took a minute to study the claims in more detail, (not difficult in this case), and there are a couple of interesting things:

The patented algorithm is not zfail, it is z pass, but the depth test is reversed making it subtly different from the generally adopted z fail, they are very specific about this in their description and in their claims. I don't know if this specificity affects the scope w.r.t. the way things are actually done today ("z fail" vs "reverse z pass") IANAL.

They are very specific about stencil increment followed by decrement in the claims.

The whole algorithm is described in a single claim that is very specific and on the face of things quite narrow.


Most of the other claims seem very silly and have been done before but I think they're trying to cover variations or obvious uses of their approach.

There is no mention of capping/closed volumes although there is mention of solving the near clip/cap problem, I cannot see their diagrams so I don't know if they are capped/closed.

The GDC presentation I linked to earlier actually mentions closed volumes now that I think about it and so that implies the ends capping required by z fail.

[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 09-24-2003).]

EG
09-24-2003, 09:31 PM
Quick legal reminder: an "approved" Patent is actually a "registered" Patent. The Patent Office does not perform any significant search and validation beyond making sure the people depositing the patent really exist (its a registration process, really, and a slow one).
As a matter of fact, several perpetual motion engines are still getting patented every year.

The validity of a Patent is determined by the first time the case is brought to a court, and the ruling issued by that court. (i.e. the defendant's lawyers are the ones that must prove the patent is invalid).
This is what makes software patents "a threat", because if you have enough money, you can swamp any smaller company with legal expenses, and even when the patent is finally rejected, the damage has typically already been done.

deadalive
09-25-2003, 12:01 PM
I have a few things to say, hope it isn't too long but someone has to say it..

No algorithm is an "invention". Software is simply text which makes use of programming languages which are largly known, distributed, and believed to be freely useable to all. This is becoming less true with each new patent. Soon there will be little one can write without infringing.

We cannot have the same programming tools if there are to be legal stipulations on their use. If there are restrictions they should be addressed by the API maintainers.
After all, it is the textbook operation of their product(s) that is being legally claimed and defended.

The "carmack reverse" implementation, or part of it, largely depends on OpenGL's API and the way GL is implemented. I believe that in all fairness, prior to granting patents the office should consult the maintainers of OpenGL and obtain permission before granting a third party exclusive rights to their API's operation. To patent usage of their API without asking is clearly a stab in the back.

Without OpenGL this "invention" would probably not exist, and carmack would neither have been able to express the algorithm nor test it's veracity.

Visualize OpenGL as a bridge. They are similar, someone has spent time and money building them, to ensure they do not break when used. One might call API's the bridge between PC and humankind. In real life you couldn't simply declare that anyone who crosses the bridge now has to pay you to do so. Everyone has an equal right to cross, you didn't build it, and you don't own it. You could try to contact the state, who would surely say "take a hike".
A software patent is like hijacking the bridge and holding the people who need to cross hostage. Who cares who built it, you're in control and nobody can cross without getting by you first. This is unfair to the innocent travellers, and definatly the owner of the bridge.

Why bother to have languages or API's if only a few patent holders are legally allowed to command them? Why do we grant patent holders exclusive rights to technology they have not developed? If these tools are to exist, all software developers should be afforded equal rights to their operation.

dorbie
09-25-2003, 01:41 PM
Absolute nonsense.

I agree all sorts of patent areas are a mess right now, but this algorithm is not tied to OpenGL which merely exposes hardware capabilities through an API and the ARB is actually a committee of self interested parties that in all likelyhood are competitors of any graphics inventor.

The prior art I listed is D3D based, and the patent makes no mention of OpenGL, nor should it, no inventor or lawyer would restrict themselves to the use of a single API.

Your analogy of bridges etc with roadblocks is a good one, but companies also find themselves having to file patents to give themselves the ability to defend against other companies using them for anti-competitive purposes, but patents are like property, they can be sold to the highest bidder or wielded by a bunch of dolts who are left behind at a company after the brains have left town.

They are an unnatural protecton that is being abused to stifle competition and is IMHO one of the most significant obstacles to innovation today.

There is no good obviousness test that can pass muster when your jury are a group of individuals hand picked by lawyers not only because of their complete ignorance of the subject matter but also for their inability to grasp the subject in any competent way.

[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 09-25-2003).]

deadalive
09-25-2003, 04:16 PM
OK so I was wrong, they worded it to be API-independant. That makes it even more evil and harmful. Not only can we not use it in opengl but we can't use it in anything, even something developed in 10 years.
My point is we are all programming the same machines with the same capabilities using the same languages, and patenting our possible solutions to common problems disrupts everyone involved. Sure there are workarounds and such, but we shouldn't have to reinvent wheels when there are only so many wheels we can technically create.

Perhaps other patent areas are a mess right now, but NONE are more damaging than software patents. I wish there was something we could do to stop this. The general response from the industry is they don't want patents. I hear an awful awful lot about people using them to attack competitors, those obtaining many patents or very broad patents which allow for more "targets" as well as the converse of that, companies getting patents to use as a self defense mechanism to thwart or trade with those who will file their frivolous lawsuits. They almost seem like a more expensive and dangerous version of trading cards!

I also don't see how they can patent algorithms. The definition of "invention" specifically states the need for a physical incarnation and specifically that it is different from a matematical equation.
That's why we can freely use math functions like sqrt() sin() and cos() they are not patented and obviously should not be.

I still have respect for Carmack though, he has expressed spite for patents in the past..

john
09-25-2003, 04:56 PM
It makes perfect sense to patent an algorithm since algorithms are intellectual property. Just because it is written in a freely available language with a freely available API doesn't diminish its importance. The recipe for Coke owned by Coca~Cola is intellectual property using freely available materials, for instance. (Whether or not that it's patented is another question, since it isn't; but the same could be said for any pharmacutical drug that *is* patented.)

Algorithms are a form of IP. IP can be patented because its the product of someone's thinking.

satan
09-25-2003, 05:37 PM
Originally posted by john:
It makes perfect sense to patent an algorithm since algorithms are intellectual property. Just because it is written in a freely available language with a freely available API doesn't diminish its importance. The recipe for Coke owned by Coca~Cola is intellectual property using freely available materials, for instance. (Whether or not that it's patented is another question, since it isn't; but the same could be said for any pharmacutical drug that *is* patented.)

Algorithms are a form of IP. IP can be patented because its the product of someone's thinking.

That's just stupid. Then I can patent all and everything because most things in our world are a product of someones thinking. I can then patent a book, a painting or a song. And noone may use words, colours or notes in a manner similar to my patent. All it has to be is unique and that's it. You can also patent mathematical, physical, biological, chemical methods. Or as it was done parts of the human genome. Or more to the point of this forum NVIDIA/ATI/3dLabs/whoever else patents their new extensions (not how it is handled by hardware but the whole idea) and the ARB board is not needed anymore. You want this feature buy our card. Just imagine billboarding, bumpmapping, skeletal animation, etc would have been patented. Sounds like patents are definitly the way to go.

john
09-25-2003, 07:27 PM
That's just stupid. Then I can patent all and everything because most things in our world are a product of someones thinking.

no. YOU cannot patent something because someone ELSE thought of it. YOU can patent something YOU thought of if it is substiantially unique.


I can then patent a book, a painting or a song.

yes. The term is "copyright".


You can also patent mathematical, physical, biological, chemical methods.

yes. What is viagra (a patentable drug) if not a chemical method? What is a new type of genetically engineered wheat that can survive on less water than conventional kinds, if not a biological process? What is a chip fabrication process if not physical?

Patents are designed to protect investment in inventions. Intellectual property is a byproduct of someone's time which should be protected. Not everything is patented. That is why authors of technical papers release the rights to their IP when they publish in a conference/journal/whatever. That is also exactly the reason why some authors sometimes hold back key elements of an overall design as part of their IP.

If patents are not about intellectual property, then what is it? WHat do you consider an 'ok' patent? Nothing?

davepermen
09-25-2003, 09:02 PM
exactly. nothing.

why? because everyone has its own brain and thoughts with its own resources. guess what? i developed z-fail/depth-reverse on my own, too. it was short before john carmack stated it. so what? i've made it on my own, he made it on his own. should i now be able to sue him because he was just LATE?

the problem with software development is, it _is_ about reinventing the weel very often.. by accident or planned.

i do understand IP, but i don't think it is something someone should ever be able to own. knowledge should always be shared. just look at the results. linux is not allowed to touch tons of fileformats just because they have patents on the encoding/decoding, no one can make an adobe pdf reader for example, etc.

we've seen it with the .gif files.. we'll see it with others, too, possibly. or look at the ogg community. they got a video codec, for free, from a company. instead of being able to publish it for free, to make it usable for everyone, they first have to go trough a huge patent-list to check if there is no OTHER video codec wich possibly has patented any part of their code.

i'm in thinking of patenting some pattern.. singletons? http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/biggrin.gif

no, really. but i should get some patents on some raytracing algorithms.. just to make sure that in 10 years i can ask nvidia, ati, and all the ones around, as well as 3dsmax, maja and co, and all the game engines based on raytracing, to pay me.

patents are some evil form of capitalistic thoughts.. they are about owning what everyone can create on itself.

whats the fuzz about the marching cubes patent again? whats with that one?

satan
09-25-2003, 09:41 PM
Davepermen got it exactly. Knowledge belongs to humankind and not to companies. Nothing more to say.

john
09-25-2003, 10:03 PM
why? because everyone has its own brain and thoughts with its own resources.

yes; and if you spend considerable time working on a problem, why should your invention be "stolen" by others who haven't? Surely, in our wonderful capitalist model, your investment in time be rewarded and protected?

so while some harddisk manufacturer is soaking large amounts of capital into researching new and better ways to store bits on a disc why should the competition merely take the harddisk design without forking out for the IP? What incentive is there for the first company to actually do any research?

You might say that the harddisk is something tangible, but algorithms are not. But what is different from algorithms written in text and a blueprint for a harddisk written in lines?


so what? i've made it on my own, he made it on his own. should i now be able to sue him because he was just LATE?

no one has said you could, or should. If you spent a year of your life working on a design that is _substantially different_ that has intrinsic commerical value, then wouldn't you want that effort be rewarded?


i do understand IP, but i don't think it is something someone should ever be able to own.

and why on earth not?


knowledge should always be shared.

in a perfect communist world where we all work for the benefit of society, sure. But that isn't how the current capitalist system is geared.


because they have patents on the encoding/decoding, no one can make an adobe pdf reader for example, etc.

er...



lrwxrwxrwx 1 root other
29 Jan 3 2001 acroread -> ../stow/Acrobat4/bin/acroread
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 964524 Feb 21 2003 xpdf

[QUPTE]no, really. but i should get some patents on some raytracing algorithms.. just to make sure that in 10 years i can ask nvidia, ati, and all the ones around, as well as 3dsmax, maja and co, and all the game engines based on raytracing, to pay me.[/QUOTE]

thats assuming you can come up with something sufficiently innovative enough to impress the patents office that your raytracing algorithms are worth patenting, AND assuming that nvidia, ATI etc etc haven't invested their own time inventing their own, better algorithms, AND that they want to buy your algorithms, AND so on and so on. To do that, y ou're going to have to invest some considerable time to come up with the algorithm in the first place. Are you prepared to take a year or two off whatever you're doign so you can do that?


patents are some evil form of capitalistic thoughts.. they are about owning what everyone can create on itself.

that is a careless appraisal of patents. I can find you plenty of patents that YOU cannot create by yourself.

I am not saying that all algorithms should or can be patented, or indeed that patents are a necessarily a good idea for everything. Clearly patents have their drawbacks, but if you want to encourage people/companies to invest time and resources into creating something sufficiently new, then you are going to have to come up with SOME kind of model to ensure that they are rewarded for their effort. Patents is one such model. Pumping large amounts of money into universities so researchers can be paid to do research is another model. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I, in fact, subscribe to the latter, but not everyone works at a university.

Zengar
09-25-2003, 10:06 PM
I consider patents on intellectual property to be an object of prestige. That's the way it's done here in Europa. T's simply cool to patent an algorithm, but I cannot understand how one can request to be payed money for every use of this algorithm. It's the most stupid thing I ever heard.

roffe
09-25-2003, 10:14 PM
Originally posted by john:
The recipe for Coke owned by Coca~Cola is intellectual property using freely available materials, for instance. (Whether or not that it's patented is another question..

OT:

From what I've heard, the Coca-Cola company have never made an effort to patent/whatever their formula just because they would need to make it publicly available. And patents expire...

john
09-25-2003, 10:26 PM
... which is why I said


The recipe for Coke owned by Coca~Cola is intellectual property using freely available materials, for instance. (Whether or not that it's patented is another question, since it isn't; but the same could be said for any pharmacutical drug that *is* patented.)

Csiki
09-25-2003, 10:49 PM
Patent are not bad.
BUT

In an industry there are a lot of solution for a specific problem.
For example: IBM and AMD working on their own transistor and Intel do the same. Intel could license the SOI technology, but he say he can do better...
Now. How mush shadow algorithm do you now? 2? When can we say that your algorithm is not one of them if you make some improvements?
In the Zfail algorithm I do one thing other than I everywhere read. It's simple, but it makes faster, and I am sure that there are people out there who already use it. Just don't speak about it...

The main problem with patenting algorithm s that it's not specific enough. I didn't see a guidline what it sould contain, and what not.

One more:
In USA the internet auction is patented. No comment...
I am happy not to live in such a country...

davepermen
09-25-2003, 11:31 PM
Originally posted by john:
yes; and if you spend considerable time working on a problem, why should your invention be "stolen" by others who haven't? Surely, in our wonderful capitalist model, your investment in time be rewarded and protected?
uhm.. nobody wants stuff to be stolen. but patents don't determine if you have STOLEN something. just if it looks equal, then you can get sued by the patentholder. THAT is a problem. copyright helps for the problem of "being stolen". patents forbid re-invention.

oh, and no, i don't think i can call your capitalist model wonderful. except in "it's full of things to wonder about".


no one has said you could, or should. If you spent a year of your life working on a design that is _substantially different_ that has intrinsic commerical value, then wouldn't you want that effort be rewarded?
and what if i'd do that and then someone else comes and sues me because he did that, too? i don't want to have to browse all sort of patents first to see if i'm someone created that first. sometimes, you know, i do work on MY OWN. and then i honestly DON'T CARE if someone else did it the same way yet. it IS my invention then, it IS my work, and there is NO ONE who is allowed to forbit it to be done.


and why on earth not? in a perfect communist world where we all work for the benefit of society, sure. But that isn't how the current capitalist system is geared.
because its the way that works best. without this, no forums would exist. if you, john, ever answer a question from someone else again, then you're a fool. ask them to pay you first. THAT is how capitalism works. its YOUR knowledge. you should not give it for free in here. leave that forum, be on your own. thats the way it has to be. but don't expect anything to be given to you freely, too, then.

would you like such a world? where every code of you would get analized, what was yet coded by who, and you get then a list what you have to pay to who? and then you can compile? that is what patents on algorithms and ip in a perfect world would be. as you state.

i know there are some acrobat readers out. but they are not without patent-issues actually..


thats assuming you can come up with something sufficiently innovative enough to impress the patents office that your raytracing algorithms are worth patenting, AND assuming that nvidia, ATI etc etc haven't invested their own time inventing their own, better algorithms, AND that they want to buy your algorithms, AND so on and so on. To do that, y ou're going to have to invest some considerable time to come up with the algorithm in the first place. Are you prepared to take a year or two off whatever you're doign so you can do that?
uhm.. there aren't much raytracing patents out there..
and do you call z-fail THAT innovative? as i said, i invented it on my own, carmack did on its own, and i know of some others, too.. it took me btw about half an hour to find that idea.. nothing too impressive.


that is a careless appraisal of patents. I can find you plenty of patents that YOU cannot create by yourself.

I am not saying that all algorithms should or can be patented, or indeed that patents are a necessarily a good idea for everything. Clearly patents have their drawbacks, but if you want to encourage people/companies to invest time and resources into creating something sufficiently new, then you are going to have to come up with SOME kind of model to ensure that they are rewarded for their effort. Patents is one such model. Pumping large amounts of money into universities so researchers can be paid to do research is another model. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I, in fact, subscribe to the latter, but not everyone works at a university.

patents are not a good such model. they have too much drawbacks..


oh, about how good patents have to be, remember xor for the cursor. THATS what i call a great patent.. and how it helped the industry to go on.

the idea of patents is to help. but all they do is blocking software development and innovation.

zeckensack
09-25-2003, 11:40 PM
Originally posted by john:
It makes perfect sense to patent an algorithm since algorithms are intellectual property. Just because it is written in a freely available language with a freely available API doesn't diminish its importance. The recipe for Coke owned by Coca~Cola is intellectual property using freely available materials, for instance. (Whether or not that it's patented is another question, since it isn't; but the same could be said for any pharmacutical drug that *is* patented.)

Algorithms are a form of IP. IP can be patented because its the product of someone's thinking.
Yeah, right. Ask yourself and be honest: What would have happened if binary search was patented?

davepermen
09-26-2003, 01:11 AM
hehe..

then someone clever would have proposed a workaround, namely hash-tables. .. and guess what the clever dude would have done? yeah.. patent it http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/biggrin.gif

i'm interested how much other sort/search algorithms we could work around http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/biggrin.gif

zeckensack
09-26-2003, 01:43 AM
Oh, and re patents vs copyrights:
Patents cover ideas, copyrights cover the expression of an idea.

If Dave writes a program, he can claim his copyright.
If then I write a program that does exactly the same, I can claim copyright too, while there still wouldn't be any basis for the two of us to engage in legal battles.

In extreme cases where authorship can be proved, this is even true if the source code happens to be 100% identical by coincident.

davepermen
09-26-2003, 01:52 AM
and thats why i like copyrights. i do understand that stealing others ideas is not good. copyright prevents this.

but reinwenting the weel on your own is good, and should be allowed. patents can disallow that. this is bad. and wrong.

JotDot
09-26-2003, 04:31 AM
Back to the main point of the thread:

Who's here from ATI and/or NVidia that can comment on this? I would imagine they know more about this.

For example, they are aware that Bilodeau made a public presentation in May '99 at the Game Developers Conference.
http://developer.nvidia.com/attach/3410
which is GDC2002_RobustShadowVolumes.pdf
Look on Page 10

* Proposes way around near plane clipping problems
* Reverses depth test function to reverse stencil volume ray intersection sense

How close was his May '99 presentation to the patent he filed in October '99 ?

I don't know patent laws but I wonder if the presentation is close enough to the patent and thus the patent is invalid since it was prior knowledge. I would imagine it would not matter if the presentation was the same person as the patent holder - in this situation it would then be the case of "he let the cat out of the bag".

Cab
09-26-2003, 05:40 AM
One of the big problems of software patents is the possibility to patent obvious ideas. Other big problem is that many of the approved patents are wrong (there are prior art, the patent is not well defined, ...) and can be declared invalid. The problem comes when the people that has the wrong patent can go against you and make you loose big amounts of time/money. You need a good lawyer for the patent to be declared invalid (=big money). So, instead of creating software, your company/studio will waste your money in a legal department to try to create new patents and to fight against competitors that are using theirs to try to get over your business. This is why lawyers are very interested in having software patents.
About bad patents you can find more information at: http://www.bustpatents.com/ You can send the info about this patent and the prior art you are mentioning to this guy, and maybe he will try to fight against it (although he is not against patents he just want a reform).

Madoc
09-26-2003, 06:37 AM
As Zeckensack mentioned, copyright makes sense. You write a book and nobody can copy it. Many software patents are like saying that if anyone (obviously even accidentally) names a couple of related characters with the same common names you can sue them. Tell me honestly what's the difference between that and z-fail vs z-pass or using XOR for the pixels of a cursor when they are all common tasks _for which the APIs we use are predisposed_?
Do you think that it might have just a little to do with the fact the the former is common sense and the latter would only be obvious to a programmer? Perhaps z-fail shadows only to a games programmer. Can we really trust the patent office to ward us against such hideous abuse? I'll leave the answer as an excercise to the reader.

This field is still all about research and fortunately capitalism is putting us in a position where the rich get richer (and make progressively worse software) and the motivated get hampered. Excellent. I love it. Plus, capitalism is such a flawless ideal, we should try to persue it in every way possible. Absolutely.

It really motivates research, _always_. Now two people have exclusive right to using Inc/Dec on z-fail for shadows so they can sit on their patent watching the developers and end users being deprived of this method when the hardware market is good for it. Everyone say good-bye to stencil shadows, they just got swallowed by a patent.
After 3 years of God-knows-how-many people investing in this method, perhaps as a key techonology in their engine, someone patents this pathetic little variation to stencil shadows without which they are unutilisable. I feel like I can breathe again knowing that the patentholder is protected, phew. Rejoyce. More patents, please!

Please argue with me 'cos I've got _plenty_ more to say. I particularly like all the idealistic theory which makes such a precise point in the favour of _EVIL_ patents.

Edit: corrected a little grammar error.


[This message has been edited by Madoc (edited 09-26-2003).]

dorbie
09-26-2003, 08:06 AM
John, the biggest problems with patents is they restrict our freedom to use our OWN independent ideas. Often many of these algorithms fall rather obviously from research. It's one thing to patent something you make quite another to patent something you discover. The distinction is often lost.

Moreover if someone else patents an invention and I come along and independently discover or create it I can be restricted from using the fruits of my own labor and intellectual creation. Even if they were first do they have a natural right to stop me using my own results? This is a very serious restriction of my human rights. The right to control an idea can then be bought and sold so some arbitrary party with deep pockets can own an exclusive right to do a thing. This is made all the more corrosive when small incremental improvements on larger ideas can restrict progress in a field.

I labor to create and someone else comes along and says they thought of it before me and I must pay them a tax. This is thoroughly unnatural. We have seen the email describing Carmack's independent thought processes in creating this invention that he generously shared with the world via Kilgard, we know his broader contributions to PC graphics. We know most of the work for stencil shadows was done years ago by others and we further know that patents contributed nothing to a process where three independent engineers came up with pretty much the same thing, zfail stencil testing. It is a system of unjust enrichment set up by man that has gone too far and has been grossly abused in many cases now.

It hasn't yet been abused here, but only a deranged fool would argue that it would be *fair* to force Carmack for example to pay Creative for stencil shadows he independently invented. That would have been the law as it stands had it not been independently preempted by Sim at NVIDIA, pure blind luck for us who need to use an idea who's time had come and concurrent invention was inevitable. A law supposedly designed to encourage investment in invention by us all, an that is an farce, it does nothing of the sort. Carmack is using his invention, Creative is, well, just what the heck do they do anymore in graphics, (heck if they ever did much in the first place), who makes the more valuable contribution?

[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 09-26-2003).]

Humus
09-26-2003, 08:12 AM
Some heated debate going on here ... http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif

Patents are needed to avoid people or companies stealing from others. It surely motivates innovation. Is there any country in the world which doesn't have any kind of patenting system? Not many (maybe a few remaining communistic regimes), so obviously it's viewed as neccesary by the majority. The problem is though that patenting comes down to a very hard question which there is no general answer to: Is this really an "invention"? When stuff gets patented that shouldn't be, then that's certainly bad. But when you sum it all together I'm confident that patents in general does more good than bad. I don't know much about patenting laws, but I think you could get around most kinds of misuse of patents with some simple means. For instance laws demanding that licencing deals of patented material must be reasonably weighted against the amount of research and costs involved in creating the IP. Overly simple ideas would then be very cheap to license. Like Apple's patent on alpha blending. Would they start to sue for infrigment of that patent, then they wouldn't get much money out of it, since the idea is very obvious and should take much time for anyone to come up with.

[This message has been edited by Humus (edited 09-26-2003).]

dorbie
09-26-2003, 08:18 AM
Stealing vs independent discovery vs sheer bloody obviousness or insignificance is a big issue especially for software and the system is set up to largely ignore these issues (except w.r.t. tripple damages), or at least make them moot when the legal bills start a flyin' and your company's future rides on 12 people hand picked for their ignorance.

[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 09-26-2003).]

Humus
09-26-2003, 08:21 AM
Also, forgot to say, I think the life length of patents should come down a little and be made more flexible. Different industries has different situations. For inventions in the mechanical industry which may live on for decades it may make sense for the patent to live 10-20 years. But in for instance the graphics industry, a patent should expire perhaps as early as maybe 3 years.

dorbie
09-26-2003, 08:24 AM
A patent takes about 3 years to be granted, nowadays the time to issue is tacked onto the end of the patent period, i.e. the clock starts ticking when you are awarded the patent rather than when you invent or file. IANAL.

Madoc
09-26-2003, 09:11 AM
Originally posted by Humus:
Patents are needed to avoid people or companies stealing from others. It surely motivates innovation. Is there any country in the world which doesn't have any kind of patenting system?

Please note that my argument was directed at _software patents_. Generally, for anything worth patenting, software is like a black box anyway. If Coca-Cola has kept their formula secret for all this time I don't see how you couldn't keep an algorithm secret long enough to give your product it's worth.


Originally posted by Humus:
But in for instance the graphics industry, a patent should expire perhaps as early as maybe 3 years.


Originally posted by Dorbie:
A patent takes about 3 years to be granted, nowadays the time to issue is tacked onto the end of the patent period, i.e. the clock starts ticking when you are awarded the patent rather than when you invent or file. IANAL.

Right, so by the time the patent expires the algorithm is probably not very well suited to current hardware anyway.

3k0j
09-26-2003, 09:28 AM
Excuse me for OT, but I think it is good occasion for my announcement:

I own patent covering Internet Bulletin Board concept.

As many people around the world benefited, and continue to benefit from using my invention, I decided it's time to get rewarded for it. Consider educational, marketing and therapeutic benefits - all such services usually cost money. This means I'm going to charge people for using Internet Bulleting Boards. Every USA or Japan citizen who posted message, or will post in future, will have to pay me a fee.

As I currently lack necessary financial resources needed to enforce my patent rights in every Internet Bulletin Board in the world (not for too long, I think), I'm going to begin with only few selected ones, including those available at opengl.org site. Others will follow later.

Exact payment rates and other details will be disclosed shortly, so stay tuned.




[This message has been edited by 3k0j (edited 09-26-2003).]

deadalive
09-26-2003, 12:14 PM
"Intellectual property is a byproduct of someone's time which should be protected"
By copyrights and trademarks, not patents.

"in a perfect communist world where we all work for the benefit of society"
The scientific and programming community have always shared information because sharing of knowledge in either field is simply necessary in order to make advancements (or realize when you have)

"assuming you can come up with something sufficiently innovative enough to impress the patents office"
could be easier than you think..

"I can find you plenty of patents that YOU cannot create by yourself"
Ridiculous. How can you or anyone possibly judge the intellect of your peers, and have the nerve to say something like that?

" if you want to encourage people to create something sufficiently new.."
We are talking about SOFTWARE. People will always be using new software and developers will always want to create and sell new products, regardless of the existance of patents.
Patents are a fabricated and unnecessary impediment. Companies have plenty of incentive to create new and innovative software, like oh I dont know, CASH..

Allowing people freedom to create has sufficed since the beginning of mankind, I don't see why that needs to change, or how we can possibly do it in an acceptable way.

"you could get around most kinds of misuse of patents with some simple means"
Sure, so when the next "Bill Gates" off the streets writes a better OS and gets bombarded by MS and other companies with their patent portfolios, I'm sure there will be a simple way to get out of that.. like giving in to them.

davepermen
09-26-2003, 01:22 PM
hm.. why the heck does nobody use the marching cubes algorithm in its games. could definitely be useful for cool effects and addicting gameplay.. thinking of worms-games..


oh.. i forgot..

Humus
09-27-2003, 06:55 AM
Originally posted by Madoc:
Please note that my argument was directed at _software patents_. Generally, for anything worth patenting, software is like a black box anyway. If Coca-Cola has kept their formula secret for all this time I don't see how you couldn't keep an algorithm secret long enough to give your product it's worth.

If someone wants to steal your algoritm it's not that hard. Everything is in the exe-file anyway. You can just disassemble the exe-file or simply just rip the binary code chunk and place it into your own code.

Humus
09-27-2003, 07:18 AM
Originally posted by 3k0j:
Excuse me for OT, but I think it is good occasion for my announcement:

I own patent covering Internet Bulletin Board concept.

<snip>

Enough of the sarcasm.

Software is mostly about implementations. Most software doesn't involve a whole lot of research. The software that does need their investment protected so that competitors don't just rip the benefits. Of course patents of stuff like "one click purchase" are just ridicolous, but patents on for instance mp3 encoding/decoding involves plenty of research. If someone spends many millions dollars on research and finally comes up with a music encoding format that's much superior to mp3, should then a competitor be allowed to just take this and implement it into their software without licensing it? Of course not. If they want it, then they should pay their part of the costs involved in creating the IP. Thus patents are needed for these cases. That said, I do believe that the absolute majority of the software industry don't need it and I think the rules need to be very strict to avoid misuse of patents.

zeckensack
09-27-2003, 07:19 AM
Originally posted by Humus:
If someone wants to steal your algoritm it's not that hard. Everything is in the exe-file anyway. You can just disassemble the exe-file or simply just rip the binary code chunk and place it into your own code.... which would be a copyright violation. Patents aren't needed to 'defend' against this type of thing.

Humus
09-27-2003, 07:27 AM
Originally posted by deadalive:
"you could get around most kinds of misuse of patents with some simple means"
Sure, so when the next "Bill Gates" off the streets writes a better OS and gets bombarded by MS and other companies with their patent portfolios, I'm sure there will be a simple way to get out of that.. like giving in to them.

How about turning the argument around. What if you run a small business with a few employees. You put $5,000,000 into research for an music encoding algoritm that's superior to mp3/wma/ogg and everything. Now you want to sell your software, but Microsoft just rips you off and implements it into Windows Media Player, and you don't sell a single copy of your software since everyone gets it with Windows. Is that fair? Nope. Patents are just as much about protecting the small guy against the big guy. Often more so then the other way around.

That said, it's often preferrable though that the industry work together for open standards. But then research efforts need to be fairly equal distributed in the industry.

Humus
09-27-2003, 07:32 AM
Originally posted by zeckensack:
... which would be a copyright violation. Patents aren't needed to 'defend' against this type of thing.

Well, you could then just disassemble, read the code and understand it, and then implement your own.

Sometimes people need to get a decent amount of information about a certain technology to even know if they need it or why this technology is the best. That is, you need to publish some kind of information to even sell something. Sometimes that tech paper is enough to rip enough research results to implement something similar yourself.

[This message has been edited by Humus (edited 09-27-2003).]

vember
09-27-2003, 08:38 AM
Originally posted by Humus:
How about turning the argument around. What if you run a small business with a few employees. You put $5,000,000 into research for an music encoding algoritm that's superior to mp3/wma/ogg and everything. Now you want to sell your software, but Microsoft just rips you off and implements it into Windows Media Player, and you don't sell a single copy of your software since everyone gets it with Windows. Is that fair? Nope. Patents are just as much about protecting the small guy against the big guy. Often more so then the other way around.

In the real world, it's more likely that the little guy is unable to create an efficient compressor because some "big guy" has patents that prevents that from happening(wouldn't suprise me if many methods of frequency-domain compression are areas of caution due to patents).

In my opinion, the file-format itself should never be the money-making vessel. The real beauty is when they promote a file-format as "free", and then start to cash in the money when it gets popular(like gif & mp3).

John Pollard
09-27-2003, 11:06 AM
Call me crazy, but I think patents should be done away with. I could come up with a million examples of why a patent doesn't make any sense.

Patents are the reason we pay $200 for a little bottle of medicine when we don't have insurance. If we do have insurance, it's why we pay such high premiums.

To me, it's whoever gets there first. I'm not talking about getting to the patent office first either. I'm talking about getting your product to the market to sell. You were there first, you make more sells. I think the consumer wins, which is the majority.

I think the only good thing that comes out of patents, is the incentive to invent new medicines, because companies know they can get rich if they can be the first to get the patent. It's sad this is the only motivation though.

Humus
09-27-2003, 04:48 PM
Originally posted by vember:
In the real world, it's more likely that the little guy is unable to create an efficient compressor because some "big guy" has patents that prevents that from happening(wouldn't suprise me if many methods of frequency-domain compression are areas of caution due to patents).

In my opinion, the file-format itself should never be the money-making vessel. The real beauty is when they promote a file-format as "free", and then start to cash in the money when it gets popular(like gif & mp3).

Even if it's a "big guy" that spent the dollars on research doesn't make it more right for a "small guy" to rip the idea without licencing. If Microsoft puts $5,000,000 into research for a music encoding algoritm, then the small guy with just a few employee can't just rip the benefits without signing a licensing deal with MS. The only thing you could rightfully demand is that MS offers a fair licensing deal, that is, first and foremost the ability to license at all, and then that the price is well weighted against the cost MS had for the research.

When it comes to file formats, then I agree that that shouldn't be patentable. The algoritms in encoding/decoding should be however. When it comes to "free" format, but there are patents, then you better make sure you get it on paper that you can actually use it freely, now and in the future.

Humus
09-27-2003, 05:00 PM
Originally posted by John Pollard:
Call me crazy, but I think patents should be done away with. I could come up with a million examples of why a patent doesn't make any sense.

Patents are the reason we pay $200 for a little bottle of medicine when we don't have insurance. If we do have insurance, it's why we pay such high premiums.

To me, it's whoever gets there first. I'm not talking about getting to the patent office first either. I'm talking about getting your product to the market to sell. You were there first, you make more sells. I think the consumer wins, which is the majority.

I think the only good thing that comes out of patents, is the incentive to invent new medicines, because companies know they can get rich if they can be the first to get the patent. It's sad this is the only motivation though.

Crazy!!! http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/wink.gif

Well, greed right after love is the most driving force in humans. That's why capitalism works so well. The hunt for money is ultimately what drives technology and the economy forward. Removing this motivation for progress is why communism doesn't work. When people have no motivation factor, technology hardly progresses and the economy halts. You get a very static society. To get any progress you then need other motivation factors. In soviet for instance you had technology going forward in the space industry during the cold war simply for political reasons, but other sectors remained quite static.
It's kinda sad, but we need greed to go forward. That's the very nature of humans.

As for your medicine example. The only thing needed to solve that is mandating that other companies can license it and a reasonable price weighted against the costs involved in creating the IP. Then you'd get competition and likely lower prices.

kkts
09-29-2003, 12:48 AM
i think if you look at bussines, law, politics etc you will see that love is far behind the greed in this world (not for all, but for most people) and greed have enough reflections in life, what a reason to add another one?
i can't imagine for instance Nobel prize winner(and any scientist) whose main goal is earn money.

deadalive
09-29-2003, 05:50 AM
"To get any progress you then need other motivation factors. It's kinda sad, but we need greed to go forward"

Of course there is no stopping greed.. Patents are unnecessary for software because what we do is create products intending to make money from marketing them, and there is plenty of competition to drive our innovation. This can be observed with any marketed product from cereal to toothpaste to motion pictures. People would continue to "one up" each other just to sell more than the other guy, doesn't the newest and prettiest box generally sell more? Another factor is human curiosity.. some of these are graphical techniques, and people naturally desire to innovate new artwork and animation techniques.

Saying that patents are necessary else we become unimaginative is a complete load of bull.

Humus
09-29-2003, 06:55 AM
Originally posted by deadalive:
"To get any progress you then need other motivation factors. It's kinda sad, but we need greed to go forward"

Of course there is no stopping greed.. Patents are unnecessary for software because what we do is create products intending to make money from marketing them, and there is plenty of competition to drive our innovation. This can be observed with any marketed product from cereal to toothpaste to motion pictures. People would continue to "one up" each other just to sell more than the other guy, doesn't the newest and prettiest box generally sell more? Another factor is human curiosity.. some of these are graphical techniques, and people naturally desire to innovate new artwork and animation techniques.

If you say that patents aren't needed for the vast majority of the software, then I certainly agree. I'm a strong believer in the open source movement and a firm believer in open standards and think open standards are pretty much always preferrable. But if you say patents are never needed for software, then I will have to disagree referring to my music encoding algoritm example. What we need is not to completely get rid of software patenting abilities. What we need is to ensure that the patent system is set up in such a way that it reaches the goals that it was intended to. That you can patent stuff that truely an invention, and cannot patent implementations or just plain concepts. Ensure that licensing is always an option for competitors and that licensing deals are fair. And that's not just for software. I'm all for a complete reform of the whole patenting system to rid it of all its flaws.


Originally posted by deadalive:
Saying that patents are necessary else we become unimaginative is a complete load of bull.

Noone said that. Though if you figure your ideas just will be stolen, then you're much less likely to go ahead and implement it.

davepermen
09-29-2003, 07:03 AM
the problem with the patent is NOT that it saves you from getting your stuff stolen. it is that you cannot use stuff you haven't stolen yourself just because someone else has done it yet.

to make your stuff save from stealing, just use a copyright. sure, closed source projects _COULD_ still use your stuff, but so could the still use patented stuff. it would just both be illegal.

the only way to make your stuff save from yourself getting sued short after is to publish as soon as you invented it. that way, nobody else can claim first official publication => he cannot get a patent.

and that, actually, helps opensource, and helps innovation, as every innovation then gets shared with the rest of the world.

patents should get dropped. copyrights are fine enough.

Humus
09-29-2003, 07:13 AM
Originally posted by kkts:
i can't imagine for instance Nobel prize winner(and any scientist) whose main goal is earn money.

It depends on how you see it. When the guy working on his research, I'm sure he's not thinking of money. He's probably concentrating on reaching his goals. But what if he discovers something through his research that he figures could have commerical potential? You can be sure greed quickly kicks in.

And what about the ability to perform research at all? If ideas are stolen left and right, who will put money into research facilities?

Sure, there are non-commerical driven research too. Universities and stuff that are publicly funded. Such research are also needed, not everything in this world has commerical values. Like placing a man on the moon. Astronomical costs and very little actual commerical value, but a huge leap forward for the mankind. But we need both. Both the commerical driver research, which patents are needed to protect, and research driven by public good.

I'm not saying greed is the only motivating factor, but it's a strong one. Love is often stronger, people do more crazy things to get in the hands of the loved one than to get the hand on money. Other people, including many researchers are driven by the fame factor, they want to end up in the history book for some cool discoveries. I guess I could file myself and my demo coding under this. If nobody appreciated my work, then I suppose I wouldn't write so many demos.

But in the end, it sure is sad in one way that greed must be such a motivating factor in the society, but the best thing you can do it to simply ride of that wave and squeeze the good things out of it, rather than actively working against it.

Humus
09-29-2003, 07:29 AM
Originally posted by davepermen:
the problem with the patent is NOT that it saves you from getting your stuff stolen. it is that you cannot use stuff you haven't stolen yourself just because someone else has done it yet.

to make your stuff save from stealing, just use a copyright. sure, closed source projects _COULD_ still use your stuff, but so could the still use patented stuff. it would just both be illegal.

the only way to make your stuff save from yourself getting sued short after is to publish as soon as you invented it. that way, nobody else can claim first official publication => he cannot get a patent.

and that, actually, helps opensource, and helps innovation, as every innovation then gets shared with the rest of the world.

patents should get dropped. copyrights are fine enough.

It's not that you "cannot use", it's that you "must license". It's up to you to decide if it's cheaper to invent something better or equivalent yourself or if you want to pay a part of cost for the existing research work. You cannot protect research work that takes long time and lot of investment, but requires a small amount of actual implementation effort, by only using copyright. If I read up on all the encoding/decoding stuff of .mp3, I'm sure I'd be able to write my own mp3 encoder/decoder. But that doesn't mean that the research work behind the algorithms are insignificant. I'm sure the actual money Fraunhofer put into this was several million dollars. Should I just rip off their work? Of couse not. But I still have the option to come up with something equivalent myself. Like the open source community did with ogg vorbis. Would ogg vorbis have seen the light of the day if there wasn't IP involved in mp3? Probably not, and the world would be one excellent music encoding format poorer.

I suppose you didn't realise it, but your last two paragraphs were actually showing some good things about patents, and how it drives innovation.

davepermen
09-29-2003, 07:41 AM
uhm.. war always was the best way to get innovation.. we can be thankful that our world was filled with tons of wars during the last century, else we would not have our nice computers, cars, networked systems, communication ways and all the things.

yeah.. all things that force innovation are good. so are patents.

a patent does not forbid reinventing it. but it can. see .gif and such. see the x-or cursor. and that is evil. a patent can do bad. it can happen to do good, too. but not being allowed to use mp3 on my own is evil. having ogg on the other side is great. but only because it does not have evil patents.

patents don't show good things. there are people to try to get around patents. they occasionally do show up good things yes. but mp3 would have gotten replaced one day or the other anyways. it is currently one of the worst existing audio-codec's existing, replaced by tons others. ogg is only popular because its free. just as xvid and those.
seeing all the mess around mpeg2..mpeg4 doesn't make it bether. they are about untouchable for a homeprogrammer. simply said, they are stolen from us.

patents define who is allowed to think what. in terms of innovation and creation of stuff at least. i am not allowed to create mp3 on my own. i am not allowed to create gif files on my own. i'm not allowed to do all that work on my own!

and yes, on "big" things i can understand that you want to prevent that someone can just clone your idea (to copy is illegal..). see mp3 and similar. but software patents work on all sort of "new" things. see the xor-cursor..

in terms of compression and conversion of stuff nobody is sure if he's in legal regions coding. see the ogg work on the free video codec. half the work is just making sure you don't violate any patent.. bah.

opengl_enquirer
09-29-2003, 04:38 PM
personally, i'm facing the patent ordeal myself right now, though i can't talk much about it. the patent would not be a simple one as it has been in development for some time now, but i'm opting for not patenting and banking on the fact that i doubt any other person could achieve my work. though my constraints are much tighter, and clearly not patenting is my only moral option, not to mention that i'm not too crazy about the patenting system in general. but my major point and the reason i'm writing this is. in many cases and a few cases in my case in the past, a lot of time people file for a patent just so some creep doesn't decide to patent their work and deny them the legal right to pursue the work they pioneered, and as well in the same spirit so to protect everyone who wishes to use the "idea". so patenting can be an act of charity and might likely be so in this case. just so no creep patents it first and tries to clamp down on everyone.

sincerely,

michael

PS: edit: personally i don't care for capping and silhouette shadow volumes anyhow. the only really robust method in my opinion is rendering the entire geometry with the normals facing away from the light extruded and the normals toward the light inset slightly. this is what i think will become customary in hardware shadow volumes in the future. silhouette algorithms require extremely regular geometry or leave funny scars along the silhoette as seen from the eye, where as the above method does not suffer from this and results in very clean self shadowing. i'm not sure how soft swadowing will go. either something in raster space that smooths across stencil borders where the depth derivitive is not too sharp, or simply allowing for multiple offeseted volumes to be rendered simultaneously. in any case i think in not too long something akin to "glEnable(GL_SHADOW_VOLUME)" will be available. in any case i'm interested in any counter arguments.

PPS: its also worth adding that this method does not require capping, that is if i understand capping, i've never noticed effects from not capping personally... and as well i've been rendering silhouettes for some time now and its worth adding that even probabalistic silhouette solving methods require about as much time as rendering the geometry with a vertex array if you are only rendering the silhouette not included the extruded shadow volume... i think even the new fragment programs silhouette rendering algorithms will probably beat out solving silhouettes eventually until no one talks about silhouette solving. but then i'm probably wrong on all accounts. still though i would like to hear what others feel about this subject.

[This message has been edited by opengl_enquirer (edited 09-29-2003).]

dorbie
09-29-2003, 07:04 PM
If you draw the object halves as part of the volume then those halves ARE caps. This is commonly done sometimes with degenerates at your edges and a vertex program, but it is no more robust than any other approach and can be difficult to optimize the beam tree. It can be done in hardware which is a win but all the degenerates add to the transformation overhead prior to rejection and the caps are as complex as the original geometry. You might be interested in Cass Everitt's suggestion for silhouette poly splitting for soft edge shading.
http://www.r3.nu/~cass/shadow_volumes/

Z fail always requires stencil pass caps although depending on viewing conditions they may not be needed in individual frames. (it depends on whether the caps would be visible and whether potentially visible casting objects are occluded in z).

With z pass the capping is actually in the depth buffer with the first pass geometry so no stencil pass caps are required.

zpass and zfail can be used interchangeably depending on your your stencil details based on a view clip test, this can be a great optimization for robust stencil geometry.


[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 09-29-2003).]

Humus
09-29-2003, 09:26 PM
Originally posted by davepermen:
a patent does not forbid reinventing it. but it can. see .gif and such. see the x-or cursor. and that is evil. a patent can do bad.

What about .png? The best lossless format out there, better than .gif in every aspect. Would we have seen it if there wouldn't have been .gif patents?

x-or cursor ... shouldn't be patentable and I certainly don't support patents on that level. Patents on true inventions are neccesary though.


Originally posted by davepermen:
it can happen to do good, too. but not being allowed to use mp3 on my own is evil.


Why do you think you have any right whatsoever to the work of Fraunhofer without putting a single cent into it? I would like to hear how you could morally justify that. I guess we should just force artists to share their work too. Free music and movie downloads legally, is that the ideal?

If they want to share their work, that's great, if they don't, well then they don't have to. At least not without you paying for it.

deadalive
10-01-2003, 07:29 AM
"some people get patents as an act of charity"
Then don't they become the same as the "creeps?" Instead of filing for patents they could do the same "charity" by publishing their work, thus making it "prior art" which makes it unpatentable and will allow invalidation of any future ill-granted patent(s).

Humus I don't get the analogy between artists and programmers (in this context..)
Artists do share their work. Paintings and music are all "open source"..
You see and hear all that they are, there are no "secrets" within a drawing or a song..
I think you are on the right track, patents are good for large, expensive technical efforts like MP3 and Gif, but about every other software patent should be done away with. They said they didn't want to go patenting every little detail of any process, but that's exactly what they are doing.

Humus
10-01-2003, 03:19 PM
Artists doesn't really share their work. Sure, it's open, just like patents are, the algoritms involved are clearly stated. But it's not free for general use. Plagiarism of music is illegal. Not sure about the US laws, but IIRC the Swedish law states you cannot have a sequence longer than 8 beats in a song that is identical to a part of someone else's previous work, unless of course it's old enough to be public property.

dorbie
10-01-2003, 07:58 PM
Patents and copyrights are absolutely not equivalent.

Humus
10-02-2003, 12:42 AM
http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/confused.gif
Did anyone say so?

zwaffle
10-06-2003, 12:17 PM
Voodoo Extremist Gabe Newell; Valve Software -- What advice would he give other developers to help preempt patent litigation?

John Carmack -- I just don't know what to do about software patents. There probably isn't another issue that can make me feel so helplessly frustrated.

Patents are supposed to help promote invention and allow benefits to accrue to inventors. By most definitions, I would be considered an "inventor" of sorts, and patents sure as hell aren't helping me out.

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

To laymen, all of programming is alchemy, and trying to convince them that any given software patent is "obvious" or "clearly follows from the problem" is really tough.

The only way to fight it is with legal and political means, and I don't have the skills or tools to even formulate a plan of attack. I give money to causes that try to fight those battles.

The only scenario that I can see would be to have enough truly, blatantly stupid patents prosecuted that someone could make a stand in congress and show the public in an understandable way just how wrong it is.

On a personal level, I refuse to patent anything that I am involved in. Anyone that has ever gotten an idea based on any of my work and done something better with it - good for you.

CalebR
10-06-2003, 05:37 PM
I'm new here and was checking out these forums when this one in particular caught my attention. So much, in fact, that it prompted me to register. Anyhoo, I have an old "boot" magazine (December 1997) that has an interview with John Carmack about OpenGL verses D3D. During the interview a question comes up about id patenting stuff. I think you all might find these quotes from John Carmack rather interesting. You can find these responses on page 142.

"The only time I've ever had to actually put my foot down at id was over a patent."

"The only time I have ever had to do that over other people's wishes was over software patents. Things were coming up about patenting things for protection, licensing, whatever, just for the reasons that lawyers give you. They were coming up and I said 'No!' a bunch of times, and then they were being talked about when I wasn't there. And I delivered an ultimatum that said if id software patents anything, they're going to be doing it without me because I will leave. And the fallout from that was not pretty. Everybody was pissed off at me, and I don't want to do that again. But that was something I felt strongly enough about that I, quite literally, would've gon off and programmed on my mountaintop someplace."

"Its something that's really depressing because it's so horribly wrong for someone who's a creative engineering type to thing about patenting a way of thinking. Even if you had something really, really clever, the idea that you're not going to allow someone else to follow that line of thought... All of science and technology is built standing on the shoulders of the people that came before you. Did newton patent calculus and screw the hell out of the other guy working on it? It's just so wrong, but it's what the business world does to things, and certainly the world is controlled by buisness interests. And technical idealists are a minority, but it doesn't mean that I have to drag myself to do things that I don't consider right."

That last quote is the one that really gets ya. :-D

V-man
10-07-2003, 03:35 PM
Carmack sounds like a pretty nice guy.
Wish I could meet him.

deadalive
10-08-2003, 08:19 AM
yea I talked to him once (but, I can't say when..) He was a nice guy then too..

foobar
10-09-2003, 09:16 AM
Newton did not patent calculus because you cannot patent mathematical theorems - they are considered a discovery of nature(although that is debatable in my opinion).
Ironically he did however gain eternal infamy for the idea even though calculus was discovered concurrently by liebnitz, much like John Carmack is falsely credited with 'his' reverse. Newton also screwed over Hooke.

Anyway I just wanted to clear some things up because this thread is very frustrating. Patent laws vary between countries but generally:

1. You cannot patent 'software' since it is an implementation, you cannot patent mathematical ideas because they are a discovery of nature (hmmm), you CAN patent algorithms since they are not natural and are inventions.

2. In the US a patent belongs to the original inventor so if some guy invents something, writes it down doesn't patent it, then somebody else invents and patents it later the original guy can claim ownership of the patent. This is not true in the UK cos our laws our better.

3. Just because somebody patents something does not mean you cannot use it you just have to pay a license fee and they HAVE to grant it for a reasonable price otherwise they are breaking competition laws.

4. You have to police IP yourself. The guy who wants to claim money for his internet message board patent couldn't. tough. You have to enforce it from the start or you lose it. This is how coca-cola lost the cola part of their name - they allowed it to slip into common use. Anyone can now call a drink cola now.

5. For an idea to be patented it is not allowed to be obvious to an expert in the field. However, it is very easy to say something is obvious in heindsight. Algebra seems obvious, but to develop the idea from scratch is well beyond the capabilities of 99.999 percent of people.

6. You can expect most software people, espcially John Carmack to be against the idea of patents since they make money from selling software which undoubtably incorporates ideas from many different places. I don't see Mr Carmack refusing to copyright his work quite so strongly though. Dont let him kiss your sensibilities.

Patent laws are very complicated and well thought out, I think the problems arise in the application of these laws.

dorbie
10-09-2003, 05:13 PM
You are wrong on a couple of very critical points.

You don't have to police your patents, I.P is a generic term that covers a range of things mainly trademarks, copyrights and patents. Each are very distinct things. Coca-Cola is a *trademark*, requirements to police trademarks have NOTHING to do with patents. The LZW patent was not policed for YEARS until it became a pervasive web component then Unisys raked in millions in undeserved royalties because it was used for gif image compression and some pointy haired type realized it. Moreover, if I own a patent and you write software that I THINK you infringe, not only can I sue you but I can sue each and every person who uses your software with the infringing technology, this is another difference between patents and other I.P.

It is NOT more reasonable to give you exclusive rights to my I.P merely because you were first to file when I was first to invent, only a raving lunatic (and British legislators) would think that this was in any way reasonable. First to file rules help avoid the potential for fraud, it is indefensible on any other grounds.

It is reasonable to Copyright your work yet object to patents, they are VERY different things. Carmack COULD have patented the whole light map multitecture radiance thing + various other innovations and id would have made a fortune in license fees for software he didn't write.

Instead he only insists you pay id royalties if you choose to run his software (or use his game level files for his older stuff). It's called intellectual integrity.

john
10-09-2003, 10:45 PM
You don't have to police your patents,

yes, you do. I attended a seminar by a Patents Lawyer here in Australia who gave some very large ball-park figures of legal costs to defend your patent for the 20 years it is awarded. It is up to a patent holder to decide whether a competitor is illegally using a patent and for that patent holder to seek legal action. The government doesn't police patents on the patent holder's behalf.


The LZW patent was not policed for YEARS

... you just said it didn't need to be policed?


It is NOT more reasonable to give you exclusive rights to my I.P merely because you were first to file when I was first to invent, only a raving lunatic (and British legislators) would think that this was in any way reasonable.

Australia has a similar approach to Britain. Good call on the "only a lunatic would use this approach". I'm so glad we have you to tell us these things. There are arguments for and against each approach. USA's patent application require very detailed documentation to show the development process. There are firm rules for these requirements --- the diary has to use sewn pages (not ring bound), pages have to be dated and signed, there can't be large empty white space, etc etc. One of the justifcations to the first to patent is that there _is no ambuigity_ and that people are encouraged to search patent databases to see what has already been described. How would you feel if you invented something and went to patent it, only to find out someone else was sitting on that IP for 5 years and comes along and stomps your application just after paying the $20k for the PCT? Neither way is clearly better.

john
10-09-2003, 10:48 PM
a correction: I misinterpreted what you said when you said you "don't have to" police patents. You can own a patent and NOT defend it--no one forces you to defend your patent, but then you may as well not have the patent in the first place.

foobar
10-10-2003, 05:50 AM
The whole 'radiance idea' was invented by lockheed martin when developing the stealth bomber and for that reason was almost certainly not patented! I am confident there is not a single patentable (by Id at least) innovation in quake. Wolfenstein maybe had some patentable ideas but these would have been obsolete within a few years. This is the point: John Carmack made a fortune licensing his game engines so didn't need to patent anything so it is very easy for him to say 'I'm against patents' and come off as a 'nice guy'. I hear he is infact a nice guy, but certainly not for this reason!

Copyrights and patents are exactly the same thing applied to different objects. Patents apply to inventions and copyright applies to designs or instances of an invention, but the _philosophy_ behind them is the same so you cannot be for one and against the other in principle.

In _practice_ patents are missapplied where as it is much harder to missaply copyright because it does not require a search for prior art: it infact is automatic in most countries - you don't even have to put (c) name, date, on it technically.

In Britain the invention I refered to would belong to the second guy - the reason this is good is not straightforward. If the guy didn't patent it could be because he was a 'nice guy'. But the law has to be sceptical - he may not have patented it because he thought he could keep it secret forever and make more money off it that way, so he takes this risk and deserves to lose out if someone else discovers it because he has been selfish with his idea (yes patents _are_ about sharing). Back to John Carmack: if he truly wanted to share his ideas with the world he should have patented them and then licensed them for free. This is the only responsible, community minded way to share the inventions. It is exactly the same principle behind GPLing your software.

roffe
10-10-2003, 07:27 AM
Back to John Carmack: if he truly wanted to share his ideas with the world he should have patented them and then licensed them for free. This is the only responsible, community minded way to share the inventions.

That's the thing. Id never had to patent because they gave out information for free. No need to make the lawyers richer. I've read old public documents(DDJ) and interviews from at least Abrash describing the inner workings of the quake engine. Id has also released the source to their work for older titles so everyone can use and learn. I can't think of many communities out there besides the Quake Community that are so active just because the sharing of information from the "inventor".

I'll take this over a "static" patent any day.

dorbie
10-10-2003, 07:41 AM
John, like I said you don't have to police your patents, in the context of the earlier discussion, the debate was over whether you had to defend a patent to keep it, and at least in the U.S. you don't. This creates a rather nasty situation where, as in the Unisys LZW patent, this was discovered when it was too late to avoid the consequences and a trivial "invention" that was in no way required became part of a pervasive international standard, and therefore gave Unisys an undeserved windfall tax on the internet that couldn't be repealed by replacing the compression algorithm, such is the momentum behind incumbent standards.

w.r.t. your comment about defending your patents vs "might as well not have them", see above.

V-man
10-10-2003, 07:54 AM
Some people have said that something as simple as the XOR mouse cursor should not get a patent because it is simple.

You have to define "simple".

Much of the laws written (civil, criminal, business, environmental, ...) are like this. They aren't clear. There isn't a formula you can use so it is subject to human decision.


I find that what Carmack said was noble. It is the foundation of science and many other things as well.
It's something that everyone should keep in mind, even if your behavior shows otherwise.

dorbie
10-10-2003, 07:56 AM
foobar, ah where to begin....

.... let's just agree to differ, I disagree completely with just about everything you've written in your last post and can't be bothered.

dorbie
10-10-2003, 08:05 AM
V-man, the problem with defining simplicity or obviousness in any expert field is that a jury ultimately decides and they know almost nothing about the problem space. If they do have any knowledge, or even if they are engineers of any kind they are automatically deselected by the lawyers. Everyone working on graphics and math stuff looks like Thomas Edison to the average jurist.

zwaffle
10-10-2003, 09:40 AM
"Back to John Carmack: if he truly wanted to share his ideas with the world he should have patented them and then licensed them for free. This is the only responsible, community minded way to share the inventions."

Hey, Carmack did release the entire source code of Doom, Quake and Quake1 under GPL license. Of course he did it (or rather id let him do it) only once the engines were no longer state of the art, but still the whole community is benefiting from that.
If suddenly Carmack was to release right now the DOOM3 source code for free under GPL, that'd be great for a lot of ppl, but that'd be also very bad for many more ppl:

-id would lose a huge source of income (they're a tiny company and wouldn't be able to survive just on the sales of a single game every 4 years).

-id's competitors would have a tougher time selling their own engine.

-few ppl would bother trying to come up with an alternative engine.

zwaffle
10-10-2003, 09:57 AM
I hope J.C. won't mind me quoting him here, but I asked him about this topic a few days ago, and he was kind enough to answer me. I'm posting this because considering the huge influence of his work and how
eager he's always been to share his ideas and code, it'd be sickening to see him forced to "cripple" his engine...

"
At 12:53 PM 10/6/2003 -0700, you wrote:
>I hope that's not significant
>
>http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=/netahtml/search-bool.html&r=27&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=ptxt&s1=Rossignac&OS=Rossignac&RS=Rossignac
>
>-fred

We are talking with them. This was files a couple months before I
started
work on Doom.

If necessary, I will fall back to a less efficient way of doing things
to
avoid the patent.

John Carmack
"

foobar
10-10-2003, 10:01 AM
<QUOTE>It is the foundation of science and many other things as well.</QUOTE>

Patents have nothing to do with science. Scientific ideas are discoveries of things which already exist. Patents apply to technology only. Technology does depend on the exchange of ideas but that is exactly what patents are for. Patents actually seperate the advancement of technology from money making.

The entire point of a patent is to share your work. Otherwise much technology would be kept secret like military projects are. Stuff that is invented for military applications doesn't see the light of day for the general public for many years (eg. radiosity). This is a terrible alternative to patents. The most important thing to note about patents which nobody here seems to get is that if I patent something that does not forbid researchers from building upon it, it just means they can't make money out of the idea without paying a royalty. Many of you seem to think that patents are a violation of your right to think which they are not, they don't even stop you making money out of other peoples ideas since you can license the technology and still turn a profit. And you do this all the time whether you like it or not. For example you burn a piece of software to a cd: the price of the cd incorporates a royalty to the inventor of the cd. An invention which helps you all put clothes on your back.

Id cannot patent a game engine, only the constituent algorithms in it that are innovative enough. Almost everything in the quake engine was invented elsewhere. It is the way these inventions were brought together that is brilliant but that is not patentable only copyrightable and copyright protection is much stronger than patent protection (Carmack's children will likely still be getting royalties from his work).

They _could_ have patented the idea of a first person shooter with wolfenstein perhaps. Such patents however rarely hold up in court. Sega has a patent on being able to switch views in 3d games which was never enforced, casio has a patent on 'objects falling from the top of a screen' which was never enforced against tetris for example, because it is too hard to enforce such abstract ideas in court and probably too expensive. If Id had patented the idea would we be without Halo? I dont think so, Bungie would just have a smaller profit margin.

Valve payed just as much in royalties for using the quake2 engine in half-life as they would have done for a license on any patent so Carmack's view is mute.

Id did not release the engine source to anything until the technology was obsolete, just the game source, and it is only free for hobbyists who are not turning profits based on Id's work. They explain the workings of the game engine because they know the difficult part is turning these concepts into working code. This is why Valve didn't develop an engine from scratch and were much more successful because of this. Most of the clever ideas that went into the quake engine were already public domain, BSP trees, radiosity, lightmaps, perspective division interpolation etc.

Anyway the whole point is this: whether they patented or not is irrelevant the work would still be free to hobbyists and still be payed for by Valve and others (who in turn made themselves a lot of money). This is exactly as it should be. But a patent would have ensured that no one else could patent anything later and also made sure the rightful people were credited with the invention (a point also missed by many here and as I said before in the scientific wold where patents do not apply discoveries are often miscredited). THAT is the only difference between Id patenting and not patenting. One can only conclude it was irresponsible not to patent if indeed they had anything patentable.

It would be nice if we didn't need patents, but it would be nice if I could leave my front door unlocked.

I never agree to disagree Dorbie http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif

foobar
10-10-2003, 10:12 AM
Oh, also... http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif

The problem with the shadow volume algorithm being patanted (Although I'm sure it wouldn't hold up in court) could have been avoided in one very simple way: If the inventor of the stencil buffer had patented it and given it away for free. They then can refuse to grant permission to use a stencil buffer unless the holders of the shadow patent in question also license their patent for free. EXACTLY the way the GPL works.

zwaffle
10-10-2003, 10:49 AM
"Otherwise much technology would be kept secret like military projects are. ...This is a terrible alternative to patents."

I fail to see how that's an alternative.
If a technology is a secret and someone else reinvents it, nothing happens.
In this case, Carmack and others have separately reinvented (as far as I can tell) that same algorithm than those 2 guys.
Carmack and others were unaware it was patented(until recently), and they didn't even think about turn it into a patent. And now it becomes a giant pain in the ass for everybody.

The only guys that can build a tv set from scratch and make money out of it are those who hold most of the patents on the hundreds of systems it takes to put one together.
Who wants that to happen to software?
Maybe it's just that coding seems such an unconstrained activity (and that's what attracts so many ppl to it). And that's why progress has been so fast.
If every single algorithm used in a video game was patented, it would be simply impossible for a newbie company to make money off implementing video games. It's great to come up with a smart algorithm to draw triangles on the screen, but frankly what's even greater is to come up with the thousand of implementations choices it takes to build a full engine.

foobar
10-10-2003, 10:55 AM
And finally,

<bold>I can sue each and every person who uses your software with the infringing technology, this is another difference between patents and other I.P.</bold>

This is called contributory ifringement and it applies to copyright aswell. Eg. using pirated software is just as illegal as copying it in the first place.

foobar
10-10-2003, 11:45 AM
If a technology is kept secret and someone reinvents it fine. But how long is it going to take for someone else to come up with the idea? If they patent it, it becomes public knowledge as soon as it is filed (patent pending) so speeds the advance of technology.

With regard to the shadow volume thing, EXACTLY. If J.C had patented it it wouldn't be a problem now.

zwaffle
10-10-2003, 12:06 PM
"But how long is it going to take for someone else to come up with the idea? If they patent it, it becomes public knowledge as soon as it is filed (patent pending) so speeds the advance of technology."

Nobody browses the patent records in the hope they'll find a better implementation solution, ppl usually browse the technical literature.

So, it's completely the other way around:
Some obscure researchers patent as many obvious software implementation as they can (often slight variations of already well adopted stuff, like the stencil buffer).
Then they just shut up and wait till someone big is gonna reinvent it, which is doomed(cough) to happen since it's obvious, then wait for a while so that it gets widely spread and adopted (practically a standard).
Then, boom!, they come out of nowhere ready to cash in...

It's like all the web browsers "suddenly" infringing on that plugging patent.. even W3C says HTML may infringe on it. So now the whole internet as we now it is gonna move backwards.

What a joke.

zwaffle
10-10-2003, 12:19 PM
I've had first hand experience with that.

I worked as a grad student in a university lab.
The professor decided that he had gathered enough smart guys (i.e. patent generators) to start his own company.
And from there on, it's just about patenting every single software implementation as you can (no matter how trivial)... everytime some phd student comes with a solution, bang, just push it on top of the patent stack, then wait and pray...
It got to the point where one of my coworker seemed very happy the way he had solved a problem. I asked him how he did it. The guy didn't want to tell me!... oh nooo this might have been patent worthy!
You call that progress?
I call it greed and using the patent system as a lottery.

zwaffle
10-10-2003, 12:40 PM
You say that guys like Carmack should file "free" patents each time they (re)invent something, to protect themselves and the community.
But doesn't that just show you how perverted that patent system has become? (and how great it is to be a lawyer in this country?)

Xmas
10-10-2003, 12:46 PM
Of course there has to be a way to protect someone's work. Ie. when you come up with some great new algorithm, you should be able to profit from that. If however someone else comes up with the same idea, and can prove that she came up with it totally independent from your work, you shouldn't have the right to claim royalties from that person simply because you were first.

What about this: you can file a patent, and it won't be published until a certain amount of time has passed. If, during that amount of time, anyone else comes up with the same idea independently, the patent is declared invalid because it's deemed too obvious.

BillyZ
10-10-2003, 12:55 PM
foobar. So what you are saying is that if I want to give something away for free to the public, I should pay the patent office 10 grand? That Crow guy. What an ass. He should of shelled out the money to protect us all. (I know this is about the reverse trick btw)

Also. I have never read anywhere that stated you must allow reasonable licensing fees for your patents. I thought it was your own personal monopoly and could apply arbitrary pricing on a per case basis. If you wish you can also just decide to not license at all.

dorbie
10-10-2003, 12:57 PM
foobar, IANAL but you're really spouting crap. As an individual if I buy a book I am not infringing anyone's copyright even if that book is published by someone who does not own the rights to it, I would be safe, it's the publisher's problem. If I buy software I can be infringing someone's patent, and can get sued. Heck if I buy & use anything I might get sued for patent violation if the inventor decides it's worth his while.

Patents, copyrights and trademarks are different you're WRONG! This started out with a mistake you made on patents needing to be defended, and you were wrong because you don't draw distinctions between these types of I.P. Now you continue to deliberately blur the boundaries between them while posting additional misconceptions, in some misguided attempt to imply you were right all along.

They have different protecton periods, different filing requirements, different requirements to maintain, different rules on fair use and offer different protections on different things. They are not the same, and admitting that will help you avoid mistakes like extrapolating the loss of a trademark to the loss of a patent, etc.


[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 10-10-2003).]

deadalive
10-10-2003, 12:59 PM
I agree, patents are an insult to innovation. I'm ashamed to live in a country so ignorant and nieve about important issues like this. I'll bet they didn't even think about the repercussions software patents could cause prior to changing the law, if they even cared in the first place..

----------------
"If they patent it, it becomes public knowledge as soon as it is filed (patent pending) so speeds the advance of technology."

In your world maybe. But in real life, (smart) engineers avoid patented code like the plague..

foobar
10-10-2003, 03:13 PM
Dorbie,

http://www.ladas.com/BULLETINS/2002/0202Bulletin/USCopyrightContribInfNapst.html

I never said they were the same thing I said the philosophy was the same so that you couldn't be for one and against the other. I was wrong on the policing issue but that doesn't make any difference to my argument. You do not have to file for copyright (in the UK at least). IANAL either BTW.

Zwaffle, you are allowed to share research within the confines of your research lab or company without it counting as public disclosure, the guy in your lab was just a twat.

You dont have to file a patent to stop it being patented in the future and give your work to the public: you can just publish it somewhere public then it can't be patented! If you invent something you think is obvious or that you want to share then put a description of it on your web-page then you dont have to worry about someone patenting it in future. Or even better write an implementation and GPL your code.

What about this: you can file a patent, and it won't be published until a certain amount of time has passed. If, during that amount of time, anyone else comes up with the same idea independently, the patent is declared invalid because it's deemed too obvious.

Well ok but thats not much different to the current system except you cant use the work yourself for fear of reverse engineering. Look, if someone can prove that someone invented carmack's reverse prior to the filing date (october 1999?) then the patent is invalid. If something _is_ obvious then it will probably already be in wide-spread use at the time of filing. If not then maybe it is not so obvious.


Also. I have never read anywhere that stated you must allow reasonable licensing fees for your patents. I thought it was your own personal monopoly and could apply arbitrary pricing on a per case basis. If you wish you can also just decide to not license at all.

Correct this is not part of patent law but it is anti-competitive behaviour to favour one competitor over an other so if it is licensed to one party they can not deny it to another. I am not sure whether you can keep it as your own private monopoly, maybe. This comes under competition laws. You definitely cannot deny the use of it for research purposes and it is not in your interests to do so anyway.

Nobody browses the patent records in the hope they'll find a better implementation solution Shame on them! I admit I didn't use the patent archives when I was a grad student but I did use patented algorithms in my research without fear or hindrance. It made no difference whether the algorithms were patented or not since I wasn't in it for the money.

I knew it was a mistake to get into another big argument here http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif

zeckensack
10-10-2003, 03:30 PM
Originally posted by foobar:
I never said they were the same thing I said the philosophy was the same so that you couldn't be for one and against the other.I can.

foobar
10-10-2003, 04:00 PM
Congratulations.

dorbie
10-10-2003, 06:12 PM
foobar, the Napster problem was they were facilitating illegal copying. There's a difference between buying and using an unlicensed copyrighted work and actually making the illegal copy yourself. In the Napster case the end user was making the illegal copies and Napster were helping them, that is why it was contributory ingringement, not for the spurious reason you seem to think. In other words you've got the thing completely upside down. This is entirely different from (for example) buying a book from a publisher who has no right to publish the copyright work, where the purchaser is in the clear. With unlicensed patents you are never in the clear, if you use it and it isn't licensed then you are potentially in trouble. (IANAL)

This isn't that fuzzy and difficult unless you make a concerted effort to blur the distinctions.

Now you're claiming you never said they are the same while still trying to argue their similarities... bah.

BillyZ
10-10-2003, 07:59 PM
I am pretty sure you can do whatever the hell you want with your government granted monopoly playing card. Why does being anti-competitive even matter anyway, that is what monopolies are all about.

I liked the idea of a time period where your patent is kept secret to gaurantee that it is non-obvious.

I think that time period should be 17 years. If after 17 years nobody thought of your very specific and detailed invention that you actually built a demonstration of as part of the submission process.. Then your patent can be patented. Sounds good. Ship it.

As far as the point about why nobody came up with the reverse trick prior to 1999. That is because not that many people were working with stencils before then. Technology is always based upon some other technology. The XOR trick sure would of been non-obvious to someone in 1902. That is because nobody had a similiar problem that needed a solution. You need to get a large number of people caring about a problem before the solution to the problem is deemed non-obvious. The only way to do that is with a trial period. 17 years is about right.

foobar. What would it take for us to convince you that software patents are not good for the world? You have to be curious to why a very, very large majority of people that are in the same technical field as you have the opposite opinion on the subject as you.

dorbie
10-10-2003, 10:47 PM
17 Years of secrecy? Do you realize how long patents are granted for in the US?.

If nobody breaches in that period you've wasted your time because there was no point with hindsight, if they do your IP is deemed worthless, so where's the payback? There is also the issue of copying.

Basically you'd be as well keeping it a trade secret, clearly you're making a case against patents even if you don't realize it.


[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 10-11-2003).]

BillyZ
10-11-2003, 12:43 AM
I didn't choose 17 arbitrarily.

17 years is nothing to a government. A government just wants to make sure that inventions eventually will get into the public domain for the use of the people. If your invention was obvious it will already be in the public domain because it will have be re-invented. If your invention was non-obvious then your patent is valid and your invention will be in the public domain in another 17 years. This puts the burden on the inventor were it should be. Sure the inventor had to wait 17 extra years, but at least they didn't **** over everyone else in the process.

I don't see how this makes a case for patents.

foobar
10-11-2003, 05:36 AM
if you use it and it isn't licensed then you are potentially in trouble

This is not true it is part of a scare mongering campaign by Unisys and a political campaign by the 'burn all gif's organisation' to scare people! Quoting directly from the US patent act:

Whoever offers to sell or sells within the United States or imports into the United States a component of a patented machine, manufacture, combination or composition, or a material or apparatus for use in practicing a patented process, constituting a material part of the invention, knowing the same to be especially made or especially adapted for use in an infringement of such patent, and not a staple article or commodity of commerce suitable for substantial noninfringing use, shall be liable as a contributory infringer.

It requires knowledge that you are using unlicensed software.

http://www.bitlaw.com/source/35usc/index.html

foobar
10-11-2003, 05:43 AM
After a bit ore research I have also discovered that a consequence of this that is perculiar to softwarepatents is this:

Most software infrngements are contributory or induced infringment not diect infringement. This means that if you use a patented algorithm unknowingly you are not liable for damages until the patent holder tells you you are using patented software at which point you can stop or pay royalties from that point on but you cannot be sued in retrospect. This is what happened with Unisys' LZW case.

foobar
10-11-2003, 05:53 AM
BillyZ, I don't make my living from software and never have (I don't count postgraduate funding as a living) is probably the reason I am being more objective than the rest of you. It is just a hobby.

satan
10-11-2003, 09:01 AM
Originally posted by foobar:
It is just a hobby.

And therefor you should be afraid of software patents. I am just coding as a hobby, too, but I also want to share my code and therefor release it under GPL/LGPL. As a hobby coder I neither can afford to patent my ideas nor to pay for patented algorithms I want to use. If the EU does a good job I will be able to use stencil shadows in my programs and just say US residents may not use it, but if the EU screws this there is no way for me to use stencil shadows or many of the other 'trivial' but patented algorithms (like tabs or a progress bars, all patents granted here in europe). Software patents are just evil and are no good for the open source community, because you need money to patent stuff, or for license fees or defend yourself against the big boys with their portfolios. And since prior art checking is not really done in europe you will have a lot of problems just doing trivial programming tasks as a hobby coder.
Once again just to make my point clear: software patents only harm and do no good.
edit: typos

[This message has been edited by satan (edited 10-11-2003).]

dorbie
10-11-2003, 02:35 PM
foobar, more inacuracies. I assure you that if you purchase and use something that infringes a patent you can be sued by the holder. See the recent commentaries that mention patent holders suing early Ford customers for driving an unlicensed vehicle.

It's not scaremongering, it's just a fact.

Again there are spurious comparrisons drawn to music downloaders in those commentaries, since in the case of RIAA their customers are making the copies, not buying unlicensed copies.

On your contributory infringement, what the heck does that have to do with the discussion. Once again you've got things completely ass over tit.

It's REAL SIMPLE. Quit trying to confuse the issue with non sequiturs. Contributory infringement as cited by you is the EXACT FRICKIN' OPPOSITE of what we're discussing, i.e. the end users accountability, NOT the suppliers accountability. It will ALWAYS BE THE OPPOSITE no matter how much you use it to deflect the discussion.

As for knowledge of violation, knowledge incurs tripple damages, the original suit is over license fees & damages, ignorance would not be a defense against paying the license or compensating the 'injured' party. Once again IANAL.


[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 10-11-2003).]

dorbie
10-11-2003, 02:49 PM
BillyZ, I didn't say you seemed to be making the case for, I said it makes the case *AGAINST* patents.

BillyZ
10-11-2003, 05:12 PM
Ok. Phew. I didn't want to come off as being for patents. Reading your post again I see the 'against' part. The tone seemed to imply the opposite of what I thought except for that single important word. Doh.

foobar
10-12-2003, 09:02 AM
Dorbie, YOU brought up contributory infringment (although you didn't know the name for it) so don't blame me for going off at a tangent.

dorbie
10-12-2003, 01:58 PM
foobar, no I didn't.

You misnamed the end user's liability as contributory infringement. It **ISN'T**. To support this you've cited missleading examples of situations that are contributory infringement (e.g. Napster, where *Napster* was contributing to the infringement of it's users, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND (*AND* the users were making copies anyway making it doubly irrelevant)).

This should have been a simple segway, a minor point of dissimilarity between types of I.P. but I've had to correct you on the same mistake so many times down this rathole it's really starting to look like you're posts are intentionally mendacious.


[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 10-12-2003).]

deadalive
10-13-2003, 07:21 AM
"If the EU does a good job..."
Hey that's not fair.. if we get screwed so should you! UK developers will have major advantages over US developers if that happens..

You know what would work? Only allowing each company to hold ONE patent at a time. If they want another they can invalidate their current one and move on to another. That way people can't be asses and patent 100 petty things and wait to pounce on other companies. After all it is a "Legal Monopoly" they grant you.. such powerful terminology for something like XOR or stencil shadows.
If each company could only hold one monopoly at a time we would surely start seeing only valuable things patented due to the facts that A)nobody wants to screw their company over, and B)anyone smart will seek a profitable monopoly if they know they can only have one of them..
As it stands these companies can hold 1000+ *monopolies* at once, a bit excessive I'd say.. The Patent office could even continue being ignorant when approving "inventions" and it will still help, since as I mentioned, people would become much more careful of what patenT they apply for..

What if "one patent only" was one of the rules from the start? As simple as it sounds I believe it can help solve many of the problems we face today..

satan
10-13-2003, 10:20 AM
Originally posted by deadalive:
"If the EU does a good job..."
Hey that's not fair.. if we get screwed so should you! UK developers will have major advantages over US developers if that happens..


I don't know about the UK but here in Germany (yes, europe is more than the UK http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif ) software patents are not enforcable since it is not allowed to patent software. And I don't see the major advantage we have in software development. And if one country has a sh***y patent law it would be better for the other countries not to make this big mistake again. And there is still a little hope that the european patent law will not follow the US. If the difference in patent law will give european software developers a significant advantage there is even a chance that US companies will see that the US patent law is totally fu**ed up and join afford to change it. Of course all of this is highly speculative and there is a not to small chance that the EU developers will be screwed, too, in the near future.

zwaffle
10-13-2003, 11:15 AM
To go back to the subject, if Carmack has to modify the DOOM3 engine to avoid the patent ("a less efficient way of doing things" in his own words), how big of a change would that be on the existing code?
Could that explain the DOOM3 release delay?

tfpsly
10-14-2003, 07:51 AM
Originally posted by deadalive:
You know what would work? Only allowing each company to hold ONE patent at a time.

Then a trust would just own several small companies, one per patent. Which would get a very small amount of money each month to keeps behing alive. Only one "worker" (aka the CEO of the group if he wants to get some more cash http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/wink.gif

So nop, that won't work.


and there is a not to small chance that the EU developers will be screwed
Actually it seems to be going very smoothly for us. I just hope it'll keep in this direction.

satan
10-14-2003, 08:58 AM
Originally posted by tfpsly:


and there is a not to small chance that the EU developers will be screwed
Actually it seems to be going very smoothly for us. I just hope it'll keep in this direction.

You are right that it seems to go ok, but I don't want to cheer to early.

deadalive
10-15-2003, 05:37 AM
"Then a trust would just own several small companies, one per patent."
Yes well they would need a few more rules against cheating, but it still can work.. Starting and maintaining a company is not easy, and I doubt many would do it repeatedly just for the sake of possibly getting a patent..