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View Full Version : M$ have rights over an extension? Someone explain this one to me!



Robbo
07-09-2002, 06:41 AM
According to latest ARB notes:

"Microsoft believes they have patent rights relating to the ARB_vertex_program extension. They did not contribute to the extension, but are trying to be upfront about it. They're offering to license their IP under reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms; will license rights to the extent necessary, provided a reciprocal license is granted to MS"

I do not understand how M$ can have patent rights over an extension they did not contribute to - and how that patent can come about anyway. Surely the concept of a vertex program is not patentable!?

BlackJack
07-09-2002, 08:42 AM
Well, in the US they have in general a very sick understanding of law and right, which no normal thinking one can understand.
As I know you can let you patentate there everything. Doesn't matter if you created it yourself or if someone else did. You simply patentate the "idea".

In short: You develope the full automatical leg hair shaver, your neighbour observes you and spys out what you are doing. He runs to the patent office and buys the patent for the idea.
When you later want to sell it then, you've to pay him out, because HE is patent owner... although you invented and built it.

I guess there are limitations in some ways too... so I don't think any normal pupil or so can go there and patentate something like a pixel shader if he doesn't have any knowledge about it... also if I in the US wouldn't be surprised if even the pupil would get it... but Microsoft for sure http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/wink.gif.

If it's true and not just a rumour... what does Microsoft wanna reach with it? Damaging nVidia? Damaging GL? Hm..... would really anytime like to meat Billy Boy Gates in the middle of the night in the unlighted backyard of a house. Oh well... let's simply invite him to a German underground scene party, hehe http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/smile.gif. But well, I guess he would pay some rounds of beer and straightly all programmers there would move from GL to D3D or so http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/wink.gif. Typical Microsoft... if you can't win fair, win unfair http://www.opengl.org/discussion_boards/ubb/wink.gif.

BlackJack

Nakoruru
07-09-2002, 08:47 AM
I am pretty sure that the idea of a vertex program has patents swarming all over it ^_^

As long as its IHVs instead of ISVs paying the licensing fees, and as long as license is granted to put it in OpenGL I do not care.

I think that Microsoft and nVidia worked together very closely on DirectX 8. Microsoft certainly contributed its fair share of ideas and it probably patented those, granting license to nVidia for use in NV_vertex_program, in exchange for any ideas that came from nVidia.

I think that the MS representative is just giving a heads up, that there is probably more IP involved than just the direct contributors IP and that final word on whether licensing terms acceptable to the ARB will be granted are not available yet.

I do not think that this is Microsoft slamming its shoe on the table and saying 'There will be no ARB_vertex_program!'

The only thing fishy about it is that it seems MS could have clarified this sooner. (although I do not know the whole story, its not impossible that MS's IP lawyers only just noticed this, although unlikely), Why announce it at the meeting and leaving it up in the air? Let the conspiracy theories begin.

Considering that the meeting was weeks ago, this issue should be resolved by now (or am I being naive). What it its status?

velco
07-09-2002, 10:49 AM
So, M$ have IP (bleh) rights over assembly language programs doing arithmetic operations and data moves ?

dorbie
07-09-2002, 10:58 AM
NO, they claim to have rights over some related I.P. for both vertex and fragment programming. Others will also have I.P. in this area. Bottom line is it means when you buy a graphics card in future you MIGHT be sending some cash Microsoft's way, or perhaps simply that Microsoft will exchange for similar rights with companies who have done original work in this area.

[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 07-09-2002).]

LordKronos
07-09-2002, 11:01 AM
Please, this isn't slashdot. Let's not all just jump on the bandwagon and complain about Microsoft having a patent on tying shoes when we dont even have the slightest idea what the patent is. All they said is they believe they have a patent relating to the extension. Without them telling us more than that, its impossible to extrapolate what the patent is. It may be totally valid.

[This message has been edited by LordKronos (edited 07-09-2002).]

Pentagram
07-09-2002, 11:50 AM
The Belgian law has several exeptions for patents.
1) Personal preuse (or something like that "persoonlijk voorgebruik" in dutch) Anyone who invented something and didn't make it public and who can prove he used it before the patent holder got his patent has the right to keep using the invention without any constraints (he can't give licentions for it however)
2) Public on the moment of publication ("Huidige stand van de techniek") Any Invention that is public when one asks to get a patent will get you a patent but when you go to court with it you patent will be essentially useless.
These exeptions are probably also applicable to European/American patents sice Belgium has signed both the EOC and the PCT treaties.
(We had an "Intellectual Property Law" course so I'm not making this up)

Charles

dorbie
07-09-2002, 10:06 PM
This won't help if the patents in question were filed several years ago by clever people ahead of the competition working on hardware design.

Kilam Malik
07-09-2002, 10:10 PM
The two points you mention are the same for germany. As far as I know they are also applicable for the european countries.

It's absolutely normal that big companies try to patent all and everything they can. In the most cases it is not used to give out licences to other companies producing it, but to exchange patents when you collide with the patent of an other company. We shouldn't worry too much about this...


Kilam.

velco
07-09-2002, 11:03 PM
Originally posted by Kilam Malik:

It's absolutely normal that big companies try to patent all and everything they can.


Yeah, sure. And I hereby decrale slavery absolutely normal, and will engage in the proper activities in order to become the undisputable God-Emperor of the Solar System (I'm a forward-thinking person, am I :P )



In the most cases it is not used to give out licences to other companies producing it, but to exchange patents when you collide with the patent of an other company. We shouldn't worry too much about this...


Why do people always think about companies ? And how about the case where there's no "other company" ? How about Mesa ? If the patent is a software one, this effectively kills Mesa, because I just can't imagine OpenGL or Mesa without vertex and fragment programs.

I do believe that such a software patent is unenforceable (think RenderMan, which comes from late 80s), but an individual sure cannot afford going to court and proving it.

~velco

Robbo
07-09-2002, 11:26 PM
Lol. What about British Telecom? It thinks it has a patent for the hyperlink.

Julien Cayzac
07-09-2002, 11:28 PM
Originally posted by velco:
Yeah, sure. And I (...) will engage in the proper activities in order to become the undisputable God-Emperor of the Solar System (I'm a forward-thinking person, am I :P )

I already have a patent on that one.

Julien.

BlackJack
07-10-2002, 09:36 AM
Originally posted by Kilam Malik:
The two points you mention are the same for germany. As far as I know they are also applicable for the european countries.

It's absolutely normal that big companies try to patent all and everything they can. In the most cases it is not used to give out licences to other companies producing it, but to exchange patents when you collide with the patent of an other company. We shouldn't worry too much about this...


Kilam.

In Germany you have to invent and to show exact construction plans. In the states you just need to "invent" it.

BlackJack

OldMan
07-10-2002, 04:18 PM
Does anyone has a patent over "having patents" ?

dorbie
07-10-2002, 08:29 PM
Blackjack the US requires "reduction to practice", so that someone "skilled in the art" can reproduce the invention from your description (or something like that). It is not an unreasonable definition at face value. If it is missapplied then blame the examiners in an overworked system who can't research (or aren't qualified to) all prior art, (not just prior patents). IANAL.

Your earlier comments about patenting other peoples stuff reguardless of who invented it or earlier use is completely wrong. You keep saying the US system is broken but you have almost no understanding of it. There are strict rules about filing deadlines after invention, listing all inventors and only the inventors and about being original. Relevant "prior art" will invalidate a patent, that's why people look for it when trying to defeat patent claims.

As a layman I'd say it's the poor application of some of these rules and the subjective nature of what constitutes relevant prior art that causes most problems. Obviousness is unfortunately subjective and to an unskilled jury chosen for their ignorance of the subject nothing is going to seem obvious.

There's a conflict between the power of an examiner to determine what a valid claim is by fiat and the inventors right to make the claim and have his day in court with a jury of 12.

[This message has been edited by dorbie (edited 07-11-2002).]