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drewslater

Stencil Shadows Patented!? WTF!

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He first talks about it in 2000, so no, it''s not earlier than these guys.

They both came up with the technique independantly. They just tried to protect their work, yet some of you call them "morons". How nice.

Y.

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quote:
Original post by Yann L
If you can prove you invented the algorithms (or you have enough money to shut up the original inventor, which is unfortunately often the case), then yes. But you'll have to go through a long and expensive process, until you get your patent granted (or not). And you will not be able to enforce those patents in countries that do not recognize them.

BTW, to prevent any misunderstandings: you cannot patent programs, only copyright them. You can patent algorithms, concepts or processes.



Wait, so games that use shadow volumes are breaking the law?

EDIT: But I did misunderstand. Algorithms being patented makes sense, but actual programs is still not legal, am I right?

[edited by - cowsarenotevil on September 21, 2003 5:03:43 PM]

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This seems absurd.

However, revolutionary ideas would occur more slowly if we were not given limiting parameters such as patents. They force us to develop more original methods. It seems to me that if the two gentlemen who hold the patent for "Carmack''s Reverse" ever bother to make it binding, there will be a revolutionary mind out there who will develop an even more elegant solution (and hopefully that person will not patent it as well).

Although, I must admit, the limitations of current hardware are enough of a pain to deal with. We would do just as well without this patent.

Here is a link to a file on the nVidia developers website that seems to indicate that "Carmack''s Reverse" is not as old as the patent.

http://developer.nvidia.com/attach/3413

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quote:
Original post by Ysaneya
He first talks about it in 2000, so no, it''s not earlier than these guys.

They both came up with the technique independantly. They just tried to protect their work, yet some of you call them "morons". How nice.

Y.

Correction, I called the people who issue patents morons on a seperate issue. At the time I was not aware that this was four years old either, though as I mentioned, my comments did not relate to the people who filed for this patent.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
It means don''t worry about it... the patent is simply not enforced or there would have been trials by now.

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Most large companies use patents as a defence more often or not. Believe it or not, Microsoft was actually against the legalisation of software patents in the US. AFIAK, IBM is currently the largest owner of software patents ( in the US - something stupid like 10% ), and is one of only a few that actively enforces them.

I just hope to god they don''t legalise it here ( Europe )...

You have to remember that you''re unique, just like everybody else.

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
It means don't worry about it... the patent is simply not enforced or there would have been trials by now.

Don't count on that. Once they have the patent they can sue whenever they like (within the 17-year period of exclusivity).

[edited by - chronos on September 21, 2003 6:47:03 PM]

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

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

-- Update : Actually I first presented this at GDC '99 in March, although I may have also presented at at the Creativity '99 conference later in the year as well.

<SPAN CLASS=editedby>[edited by - SimmerD on September 21, 2003 7:00:12 PM]</SPAN>

<SPAN CLASS=editedby>[edited by - SimmerD on September 21, 2003 10:49:10 PM]</SPAN>

[Edited by - SimmerD on July 29, 2004 4:50:28 PM]

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quote:
Original post by cowsarenotevil
Wait, so games that use shadow volumes are breaking the law?


In the EU: no (currently). In the US: legal greyzone. Theoretically, every application using a patented algorithm must get written permission from the patent holder, if not stated otherwise (there are also free to use patents). In practice, however, it's extremely hard to keep track about which algorithm exactly is patented, and by whom. Also, keeping track of all royalities to pay would be a nightmare - considering that things like scrollbars, editboxes, and many aspects of 3D graphics are actually patented...

Most companies do not enforce software patents. Interestingly, most companies are against them. In most cases, it wouldn't make sense financially, since the costs for the license logistics are generally far greater than a potential gain from royalities. There are some exceptions, unfortunately, who actually enforce their patents. In that case, you could get sued if you use the algorithm in question in your project - even if you came up with the idea on your own.

quote:

EDIT: But I did misunderstand. Algorithms being patented makes sense, but actual programs is still not legal, am I right?


You don't need to patent a program, it is automatically protected by intellectual property laws (copyright). A full program could only be patented, if it is an integral part of a machine or process (for example certain types of firmware, especially for embedded devices).

BTW, did anyone here ever got a US software patented granted ? I (or better: my company) was thinking of patenting a some algorithms from our engine (the ABT, and a couple of others). But the costs seem to be very prohibitive, and you don't get anything back, should the patent be rejected.


[edited by - Yann L on September 21, 2003 8:18:04 PM]

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