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Dark_Oppressor

Patented user interface stuff?

3 posts in this topic

I've got an engine that I wrote that I use for my games. The GUI stuff (windows and buttons and such) currently just work with the mouse, but I am adding keyboard/gamepad support for all of it. I am trying to decide what to do about text input. I can go a classic route with a big qwerty layout or even just a terrible "line of letters" or something, but I also liked the look of what they have in Steam's Big Picture Mode.

 

That got me wondering if that sort of thing is patent-able (which it is, as far as my research told me). That lead me to wonder if that could be a problem here. Since I'm writing it all myself it can obviously look and work however I want, so I could make something similar that is "different enough", if I could figure out what constitutes "different enough".

 

The main reason I want to use something like this badly enough to come ask about it (and Google around for the past few days) is that, since it is a UI thing, I want it to be easy to use and (preferably) recognizable. If Steam popularizes this easy-to-use (at least I think it's great) design, I would much rather use it or something similar to it, and not something much less useful (a big qwerty block).

 

So, is this a valid concern, or just silly?

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Note I'm not a lawyer and got no practical experience with this kind of thing, but from what I read you should assume the US patent office is completely stupid and allows patenting everything even when it shouldnt be allowed by law if you get some clever lawyer to write a contrived claim, even for the simplest thing like making a device in a rectangular shape where there is a huge number of things which are like that before it got claimed as an invention. So you probably can only be sure if you ask some lawyer and/or search all patent records and not by asking in a internet forum.

Edited by wintertime
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So, is this a valid concern, or just silly?

It's silly that it's a valid concern.

A few years back, someone claimed to have invented spherical texture mapping and went after the entire industry.

SCO claimed to have patents on everything in Linux and tried to extort every one who even knew Linux existed.

Creative Labs went after John Carmack over his shadowing algorithm during the making of Doom 3. They held the project hostage, and I believe, made him include functionality for their new (and useless at the time) sound card.

Those who can, create
Those who can't, litigate

smile.png

We're all liable to be litigated at some point. Someone will claim to have invented something in C++'s runtime, and try to extort 1000$ out of everyone who ever installed Visual C++ or GCC. That's just the way it is.
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