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Patents

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While looking for some new ways to improve my graphics engine, I saw a lot that were very interesting.

 

But once in a while I see that there is a patent about it.

 

So I am wondering is there is some kind list of what is patented and what is not somewhere?

 

If not it might be a good idea to start making such a list.  Here is what I found so far:

 

Simplex noise patent:
http://www.google.com/patents/US6867776

Surface model generation for visualizing three-dimensional objects using multiple elastic surface nets:
https://www.google.com/patents/US6362821

Surface net smoothing for surface representation from binary sampled data:
http://www.google.com/patents/US6084593

?? An implementation of the marching cubes algorithm was patented as United States Patent 4,710,876.[7] Another similar algorithm was developed, called marching tetrahedra, in order to circumvent the patent as well as solve a minor ambiguity problem of marching cubes with some cube configurations. The patent expired in 2005, and it is now legal for the graphics community to use it without royalties since more than 17 years have passed from its issue date (December 1, 1987[7]).
 

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So I am wondering is there is some kind list of what is patented and what is not somewhere?


The US Patent & Trademark Office has a list of US patents and trademarks, but you have to figure out how best to do a search there. uspto.gov

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If not it might be a good idea to start making such a list.

From discussions with various lawyers on the topic, it actually is a bad idea.

 

Patents in software is a surprising area where ignorance is better.

 

Chances of stumbling on a patented algorithm in general is very low. If you do happen upon it yourself, the chances of you directly violating the patent are also very low; because you are ignorant you are more likely to do something similar but critically different.  Then the chance of your own independent discovery being found by the patent holder is also low, and if you do the risk of a lawsuit due to it, again, are low.  Lots of low risk multiples together to make it a safer world overall.

 

However, if the algorithm is patented and the company can convince the judge that you knew or should have known about the patent, damages get automatically tripled.

 

If someone were to compile a list of all the little landmine patents, details about them, and widely published the list, following the process through to conclusion means damages for anyone who accidentally infringed suddenly get tripled because the list is around and they will claim developers should have known to study out the list and search for violations.

 

I've seen a few attempts to document the ever-changing list of current patents over the years, but usually they are quickly taken down when the individuals realize it just contributes to the patent problem, it doesn't help fix the problem.

Edited by frob

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So I am wondering is there is some kind list of what is patented and what is not somewhere?


The US Patent & Trademark Office has a list of US patents and trademarks, but you have to figure out how best to do a search there. uspto.gov

 

Thanks!  Although since patents are 'by country', and games are usually 'international'.

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If not it might be a good idea to start making such a list.

From discussions with various lawyers on the topic, it actually is a bad idea.

 

Patents in software is a surprising area where ignorance is better.

 

Chances of stumbling on a patented algorithm in general is very low. If you do happen upon it yourself, the chances of you directly violating the patent are also very low; because you are ignorant you are more likely to do something similar but critically different.  Then the chance of your own independent discovery being found by the patent holder is also low, and if you do the risk of a lawsuit due to it, again, are low.  Lots of low risk multiples together to make it a safer world overall.

 

However, if the algorithm is patented and the company can convince the judge that you knew or should have known about the patent, damages get automatically tripled.

 

If someone were to compile a list of all the little landmine patents, details about them, and widely published the list, following the process through to conclusion means damages for anyone who accidentally infringed suddenly get tripled because the list is around and they will claim developers should have known to study out the list and search for violations.

 

I've seen a few attempts to document the ever-changing list of current patents over the years, but usually they are quickly taken down when the individuals realize it just contributes to the patent problem, it doesn't help fix the problem.

 

Thanks, your suggestion seems logical.  Although there would not be any landmine patents for new developers if they were all well known.  But there are many games already developed that might need to be 'redone', not an easy task...

 

Perhaps a list of 'non-patented', 'public domain' or 'expired patent' techniques would serve better? 

 

As long as they cannot be patented the next day by some corporations...

Edited by virtualpaul

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Although since patents are 'by country', and games are usually 'international'.


What is your point?

 

Sorry for not being clear.  I meant that searching on that site will give me only patents filed in the US, which may not include patents filed in other countries which a game might be sold.

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Sorry for not being clear.  I meant that searching on that site will give me only patents filed in the US, which may not include patents filed in other countries which a game might be sold.

Yes. I implied that in my answer. The answer to your original question is "yes, there are lists -- but lotsa luck trying to find them all and search them all!" A better answer (although not technically true) is: "no, there's no such list." Because it's extremely difficult to find them all and search them all.

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