Having problems understanding the ramifications of an existing software patent

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by Cromulent, Jul 3, 2010.

  1. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Location:
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    #1
    I'm quite interested in games programming in general (in fact that was I learnt to program in the first place) and have recently been doing a bit of research on some of my old ideas. One of them includes a procedural terrain generator.

    The problem is after a little bit of searching it appears that the obvious method of going about the task is patented(!).

    http://v3.espacenet.com/publication...C=A&FT=D&date=20070510&DB=EPODOC&locale=en_gb

    How are you supposed to work around these things? It is absolutely ridiculous that someone can patent an obvious and well known technique such as this. In fact one of the rules for UK patents is that you can't patent something which is obvious to someone with good knowledge of the field. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming to have good knowledge of the field but if I were to do some form of real time terrain generation it would be pretty obvious how to do it.

    So what to do? How do commercial products get around these patents? Surely these can't really be enforced?

    Call me an idealist (communist / liberal scum / whatever) but I fail to see how giving exclusive use of certain technological processes to corporations helps mankind.
     
  2. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    #2
    I agree, this patent is rubbish and should never have been issued. You can work around the claims one by one. For example:

    20. The method of claim 19, additionally comprising adding, after use, a terrain memory buffer to the set of unused terrain memory buffers.

    So when you don't need a terrain memory buffer anymore, you delete it and create a new one when it is needed.

    Obviously you go through number 1 to 20 in that way.

    And yes, that patent is rubbish. Every bit in it is obvious to someone of ordinary skill in the art.
     
  3. Catfish_Man macrumors 68030

    Catfish_Man

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2001
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #3
    My recollection (IANAL) is that you only need to differ in one claim, not all of them. A patent with too many claims is therefore easier to work around.
     
  4. Cromulent thread starter macrumors 603

    Cromulent

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Location:
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    #4
    That's interesting. Thanks for the heads up.
     
  5. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Isla Nublar
    #5
    I was afraid for a minute there that IANAL was a new Apple product :eek:
     
  6. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    #6
    That is definitely not the case. For example, a typical strategy is to have some rather wide claims, followed by narrower claims for special cases of the wider claim. The wider the claim, the more it covers, but the easier it is invalidated for prior art. The narrower the claim, the harder it is to invalidate but it covers less. So you have the wide claim risking that it is invalidated, but if it isn't, it covers a lot, and you have narrower claims. They stand even if the wider claim is invalidated.
     

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