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speciesUnknown

my own 3d skybox technology

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Hi there, As many will know Valve Software used a 3d skybox tehnology in HL2. Im interested in developing my own 3d skybox, but I have one main concern. Is their implementation patented? I know that they create a 1/16th scale model, because they said this in one of the commentry tracks in their free demo of hl2 "the lost coast". If I was to develop my own 3d skybox, independently, would that be a breach of IP? How dissimilar will it have to be to avoid breaching IP rights? [Edited by - speciesUnknown on May 10, 2007 5:22:43 AM]

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I don't think this is patented, its a pretty obvious technique.

This was done in HL1 mods before HL2 came out, and I'm pretty sure the Unreal Tournament engine did this too, so there's probably prior-art anyway.

If it was patented, you would have to read the patent to figgure out how dissimilar to make it. E.g. If the patent specifically said "a 1/16 model is used", you could just use a 1/8 model to get around it. But if the patent just said "a second model is used", it would be tougher.

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Quote:
Original post by chillypacman
doubt theres a patent on it, everyone uses it these days...
Actually some patent holders deliberately keep quite about their patents and allow people to start using them. Once the practice is well established they crawl out of the woodwork and start threatening small companies with legal action. These small companies settle, rather than get into an expensive fight, and in doing so the patent holder builds up a fighting fund (of other people's money). Then they use that to go after bigger companies to get bigger settlements.

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> If i was to develop my own 3d skybox,
> independently, would that be a breach of IP?

A patent is the right to sue any competitor who markets the same invention covered by the patent. It doesn't matter if you came up with the same invention in complete isolation from the world or not. The usual ways around this is either by proving the existence of prior art, or argueing the obviousness of the invention. In either case, you need a patent lawyer and tons of cash.

> doubt theres a patent on it, everyone uses it these days...

You should do a patent search before making assumptions. http://www.freepatentsonline.com and www.uspto.gov are your friends here.

-cb

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I see you're in the UK - I don't believe that software patents are valid in the EU. Though it may still be an issue for people using your software in places like the US.

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Quote:
Original post by mdwh
I see you're in the UK - I don't believe that software patents are valid in the EU. Though it may still be an issue for people using your software in places like the US.


The EU doesn't directly allow software patents. It does, however, allow for protections on inventions which are otherwise patentable and then subsequently implemented using a computer. Also, member states are free to ignore the guidelines when issuing patents.

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Quote:
Original post by cbenoi1
It doesn't matter if you came up with the same invention in complete isolation from the world or not.


See here. Apparently ignorance is a partial defence - it will at least reduce the damages you would be required to pay (under US law, I presume this is).

On a technical note, the concept of creating a 1/16th model seems to me to be a little silly - you can move the far Z clipping plane to infinity with a negligible effect on Z buffer precision, so there doesn't seem to be any reason to scale a skybox to me since you're presumably forcing it to draw behind all other geometry anyway.

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Quote:
Original post by ZQJ
On a technical note, the concept of creating a 1/16th model seems to me to be a little silly - you can move the far Z clipping plane to infinity with a negligible effect on Z buffer precision, so there doesn't seem to be any reason to scale a skybox to me since you're presumably forcing it to draw behind all other geometry anyway.

That is one of the biggest features of a skybox.

You don't need to clear your color buffer or z buffer (assuming you set your z-buffer flags properly), and you might be able to clear other buffers your app needs, all without incurring the performance time of issuing a clear. Although this isn't necessarily a performance gain, it prevents a relatively annoying pipeline-blocking operation.

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