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Re: [PanoToolsNG] United States Patent And Trademark Office Grants Imatronics Founder

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  • Daniel Reetz
    ... I fail to see how deliberately creating more overly-broad patents on panoramic technology improves the human condition . Daniel Reetz
    Message 1 of 13 , Aug 1, 2009
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      > This patent grant is further recognition of our founder's abiding
      > commitment to the improvement of the human condition through scientific
      > research and development and to empowering you to create the best-valued
      > virtual tours.

      I fail to see how deliberately creating more overly-broad patents on
      panoramic technology "improves the human condition".

      Daniel Reetz
    • Paulo Fernandes
      Thanks for the info, but could you please clarify what exactly is patented? I don t fully understand what is said in the link you provided, too much legal talk
      Message 2 of 13 , Aug 1, 2009
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        Thanks for the info,

        but could you please clarify what exactly is patented?
        I don't fully understand what is said in the link you provided, too much
        legal talk for me ;)

        For instance, from what I read it says that Imatronics now has the
        patent for any device that produces panoramic video and video transitions
        between panoramas?

        Is this right? If so am I the only one that smells iPix...

        or is it only the algorithm that converts and projects
        the video onto a sphere?

        Don't get me wrong it's a nice work and it should be protected, it's just
        that
        I'm a bit afraid of this patent thingies


        On Sun, Aug 2, 2009 at 12:08 AM, imatronics <imatronics@...> wrote:

        >
        >
        >
        >
        > We are pleased to inform you that the United States Patent And Trademark
        > Office (USPTO) has granted Imatronics Founder -- Dr. Frank Edughom Ekpar
        > -- patent rights to a broad range of imaging systems, devices and
        > methods.
        >
        > This patent grant is recorded in United States Patent Number 7567274
        > issued on July 28, 2009.
        >
        > You can access the full text of the patent on the USPTO web site:
        >
        > http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=7567274
        > <http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=7567274>
        >
        > This invention introduces systems, devices and methods aimed at
        > simplifying
        > the creation and management of high-impact virtual tours as well as
        > novel
        > general-purpose imaging, multimedia and information processing systems.
        >
        > Our founder has made and continues to make well recognized contributions
        > to the scientific community and to the advancement of humanity.
        >
        > This patent grant is further recognition of our founder's abiding
        > commitment to the improvement of the human condition through scientific
        > research and development and to empowering you to create the best-valued
        > virtual tours.
        >
        > Imatronics Software -- including Panorama Express, Interactive Video,
        > Cute Album, OmniViewer, Media Express, etc -- is based on the only
        > authentic and comprehensively patented virtual tour system. By using
        > Imatronics Software to create and manage your virtual tours, you
        > leverage the results of over 15 years of cutting-edge scientific
        > research and development to take your virtual tour business to greater
        > heights.
        >
        > Please visit our web site to learn more about Imatronics:
        >
        > http://www.imatronics.com <http://www.imatronics.com>
        >
        > Thank you for your attention.
        >
        > Best regards,
        > The Imatronics Team.
        >
        > http://www.imatronics.com <http://www.imatronics.com>
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >



        --
        Com os melhores cumprimentos,

        Paulo Fernandes
        Multimedia

        ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
        Go Go Pixel - Design, Fotografia e Multimédia
        Calçada do Lidador, 1ºAndar
        4480-690 Vila do Conde - Portugal
        Tel. +351 252 119 375 - Fax. +351 252 119 375
        :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Ken Warner
        In other words, you made a spherical panorama viewer. The present invention discloses a method and apparatus for creating interactive virtual tours. In one
        Message 3 of 13 , Aug 1, 2009
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          In other words, you made a spherical panorama viewer.

          " The present invention discloses a method and apparatus for creating
          interactive virtual tours. In one embodiment, panoramic imaging systems
          characterized by a 360-degree lateral field of view and a vertical field of view
          that is usually less than 180 degrees are utilized and polynomial-based
          interpolation algorithms are used to correct distortions in the input panoramic
          images, video or rendered scenes, permitting the use of an arbitrary panoramic
          imaging system characterized by the ability to generate a seamless 360-degree
          panoramic view of the imaged scene in each single image frame. The input
          panoramic images, video or rendered scenes are used to create spherical
          environment maps that are packaged into completely immersive (giving the
          impression of being there) virtual tours that are rendered on a display device
          by a viewing engine that corrects perspective distortions in the spherical
          environment maps contained in the virtual tour packages and permits a plurality
          of viewers to view any portion of any of the panoramic scenes in the virtual
          tour package in a manner that is free from distortions. The present invention
          also discloses a control engine for representing the individual panoramic scenes
          contained in the virtual tour package in multi-dimensional space and/or time and
          for transmitting control signals to the viewing engine that cause the viewing
          engine to render any particular panoramic scene selected by the viewer and any
          view window on the selected panoramic scene desired by the viewer. Furthermore,
          the control engine communicates bi-directionally with the viewing engine and
          provides a means of indicating which particular panoramic scene is currently
          viewed by the viewing engine as well as a means of indicating what portion of
          the selected panoramic scene is currently displayed by the viewing engine.
          "

          I'd like to point out that my stupid Java viewer (MSJV) displays a selectable
          portion of a 360 degree by 180 degree image seamlessly WITHOUT using a
          polynomial-based algorithm.

          Enjoy your patent...

          imatronics wrote:
          >
          >
          > We are pleased to inform you that the United States Patent And Trademark
          > Office (USPTO) has granted Imatronics Founder -- Dr. Frank Edughom Ekpar
          > -- patent rights to a broad range of imaging systems, devices and
          > methods.
          >
          > This patent grant is recorded in United States Patent Number 7567274
          > issued on July 28, 2009.
          >
          > You can access the full text of the patent on the USPTO web site:
          >
          >
          > http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=7567274
          > <http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=7567274>
          >
          >
          > This invention introduces systems, devices and methods aimed at
          > simplifying
          > the creation and management of high-impact virtual tours as well as
          > novel
          > general-purpose imaging, multimedia and information processing systems.
          >
          > Our founder has made and continues to make well recognized contributions
          > to the scientific community and to the advancement of humanity.
          >
          > This patent grant is further recognition of our founder's abiding
          > commitment to the improvement of the human condition through scientific
          > research and development and to empowering you to create the best-valued
          > virtual tours.
          >
          > Imatronics Software -- including Panorama Express, Interactive Video,
          > Cute Album, OmniViewer, Media Express, etc -- is based on the only
          > authentic and comprehensively patented virtual tour system. By using
          > Imatronics Software to create and manage your virtual tours, you
          > leverage the results of over 15 years of cutting-edge scientific
          > research and development to take your virtual tour business to greater
          > heights.
          >
          > Please visit our web site to learn more about Imatronics:
          >
          >
          > http://www.imatronics.com <http://www.imatronics.com>
          >
          >
          >
          > Thank you for your attention.
          >
          >
          > Best regards,
          > The Imatronics Team.
          >
          > http://www.imatronics.com <http://www.imatronics.com>
          >
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
        • AYRTON
          B.S. ... just one more ... -- ... + 55 21 9982 6313 http://ayrton360.com follow me : http://twitter.com/ayrton360 [Non-text portions of this message have been
          Message 4 of 13 , Aug 1, 2009
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            B.S.
            :-(

            just one more


            On Sat, Aug 1, 2009 at 8:08 PM, imatronics <imatronics@...> wrote:

            >
            >
            >
            > We are pleased to inform you that the United States Patent And Trademark
            > Office (USPTO) has granted Imatronics Founder -- Dr. Frank Edughom Ekpar
            > -- patent rights to a broad range of imaging systems, devices and
            > methods.
            >
            > This patent grant is recorded in United States Patent Number 7567274
            > issued on July 28, 2009.
            >
            > You can access the full text of the patent on the USPTO web site:
            >
            >
            > http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=7567274
            > <http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=7567274>
            >
            >
            > This invention introduces systems, devices and methods aimed at
            > simplifying
            > the creation and management of high-impact virtual tours as well as
            > novel
            > general-purpose imaging, multimedia and information processing systems.
            >
            > Our founder has made and continues to make well recognized contributions
            > to the scientific community and to the advancement of humanity.
            >
            > This patent grant is further recognition of our founder's abiding
            > commitment to the improvement of the human condition through scientific
            > research and development and to empowering you to create the best-valued
            > virtual tours.
            >
            > Imatronics Software -- including Panorama Express, Interactive Video,
            > Cute Album, OmniViewer, Media Express, etc -- is based on the only
            > authentic and comprehensively patented virtual tour system. By using
            > Imatronics Software to create and manage your virtual tours, you
            > leverage the results of over 15 years of cutting-edge scientific
            > research and development to take your virtual tour business to greater
            > heights.
            >
            > Please visit our web site to learn more about Imatronics:
            >
            >
            > http://www.imatronics.com <http://www.imatronics.com>
            >
            >
            >
            > Thank you for your attention.
            >
            >
            > Best regards,
            > The Imatronics Team.
            >
            > http://www.imatronics.com <http://www.imatronics.com>
            >
            >
            >
            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >
            >
            >
            > ------------------------------------
            >
            > --
            >
            >
            >
            >


            --
            ------------
            | A Y R |
            | T O N |
            ------------
            + 55 21 9982 6313
            http://ayrton360.com
            follow me :
            http://twitter.com/ayrton360


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Ken Warner
            After a quick review of you patent -- it seems that you have patented *EVERYTHING*. Come on, leave a little for us....
            Message 5 of 13 , Aug 1, 2009
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              After a quick review of you patent -- it seems that you have
              patented *EVERYTHING*. Come on, leave a little for us....

              imatronics wrote:
              >
              >
              > We are pleased to inform you that the United States Patent And Trademark
              > Office (USPTO) has granted Imatronics Founder -- Dr. Frank Edughom Ekpar
              > -- patent rights to a broad range of imaging systems, devices and
              > methods.
              >
              > This patent grant is recorded in United States Patent Number 7567274
              > issued on July 28, 2009.
              >
              > You can access the full text of the patent on the USPTO web site:
              >
              >
              > http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=7567274
              > <http://patft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?patentnumber=7567274>
              >
              >
              > This invention introduces systems, devices and methods aimed at
              > simplifying
              > the creation and management of high-impact virtual tours as well as
              > novel
              > general-purpose imaging, multimedia and information processing systems.
              >
              > Our founder has made and continues to make well recognized contributions
              > to the scientific community and to the advancement of humanity.
              >
              > This patent grant is further recognition of our founder's abiding
              > commitment to the improvement of the human condition through scientific
              > research and development and to empowering you to create the best-valued
              > virtual tours.
              >
              > Imatronics Software -- including Panorama Express, Interactive Video,
              > Cute Album, OmniViewer, Media Express, etc -- is based on the only
              > authentic and comprehensively patented virtual tour system. By using
              > Imatronics Software to create and manage your virtual tours, you
              > leverage the results of over 15 years of cutting-edge scientific
              > research and development to take your virtual tour business to greater
              > heights.
              >
              > Please visit our web site to learn more about Imatronics:
              >
              >
              > http://www.imatronics.com <http://www.imatronics.com>
              >
              >
              >
              > Thank you for your attention.
              >
              >
              > Best regards,
              > The Imatronics Team.
              >
              > http://www.imatronics.com <http://www.imatronics.com>
              >
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
            • Eduardo Hutter
              Obviously concerned about this new patent for the well know reasons, I was reading the patent grant and while I m not an expert -not even close to it- it seems
              Message 6 of 13 , Aug 1, 2009
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                Obviously concerned about this new patent for the well know reasons, I
                was reading the patent grant and while I'm not an expert -not even close
                to it- it seems to me that this is not something to worry about. As far
                as I could understand from all the "legalese" this a claim over a
                specific method and "apparatus" commercialized by Immatronics, and not a
                generic patent.

                * imatronics wrote, On 01/08/2009 8:08 PM:

                > (...) This patent grant is further recognition of our founder's
                > abiding commitment to the improvement of the human condition (...)

                Sheesh, get over yourself, this is just a patent grant not a Nobel
                Prize. At most this is a recognition of you skills. The day you just
                give it away to the public for free, than we'll see.

                cheers,

                Eduardo
              • Eduardo Hutter
                ... err. should read your, not you and then, not than... of course. I have to do something for the improvement of my English. ;) E
                Message 7 of 13 , Aug 1, 2009
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                  > ... of you skills. The day you just give it away to the public for
                  > free, than we'll ...

                  err. should read your, not you and then, not than... of course. I have
                  to do something for the improvement of my English. ;)

                  E
                • Daniel Reetz
                  ... Fortunately your English is vastly more comprehensible than the majority of this patent. d
                  Message 8 of 13 , Aug 1, 2009
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                    > err. should read your, not you and then, not than... of course. I have
                    > to do something for the improvement of my English. ;)

                    Fortunately your English is vastly more comprehensible than the
                    majority of this patent.
                    d
                  • Scott Witte
                    This is indeed an extraordinary and ground breaking invention. To quote ... The ability to encode static data such as an image or frame of a video into the
                    Message 9 of 13 , Aug 2, 2009
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                      This is indeed an extraordinary and ground breaking invention. To quote
                      from the patent:

                      > The entire 360-degree lateral field of view around the user is
                      > captured in a single image *flame*. .... A single image *flame* covers
                      > the entire 360-degree lateral field of view.
                      The ability to encode static data such as an image or frame of a video
                      into the dynamic, largely random and ephemeral medium of a flame has
                      consequences and application far beyond VR imaging. I am in awe.


                      But seriously, the basis of this patent seems to rest on using a "one
                      shot" lens or
                      > (panoramic annular lens systems) characterized by a 360-degree lateral
                      > field of view and a vertical field of view that is usually less than
                      > 180 degrees and *producing a donut-shaped panoramic annular image as
                      > output* in the creation of spherical environment maps.
                      I thought I saw one shot solutions exactly like this in use and for sale
                      back in 2000, for sure by October 2002. If so, I'm not sure how a patent
                      application filed afterward could be successful. If someone from
                      Imatronics would care to clarify I think we all would be interested.

                      I will leave it to others to decipher the algorithm and interface
                      aspects of the patent. But on brief inspection it generally seems to be
                      patenting capabilities and methods, some of which have existed since the
                      first introduction of QTVR. If so, I fail to see how the patent could be
                      upheld. I'm probably missing something.

                      --
                      Scott Witte
                      ---------------------------------
                      *WITTE *ON* LOCATION*
                      Advertising Photography <http://www.scottwitte.com>
                      360 Virtual Tours <http://www.scottwitte.com/VR/>
                      414.345.9660
                      Member, IVRPA




                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • crane@ukonline.co.uk
                      ... This patent application seems to have been assembled using the communication tool known as the english language. Perhaps we should patent it and put a stop
                      Message 10 of 13 , Aug 3, 2009
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                        Quoting Scott Witte <scottwitte@...>:

                        > This is indeed an extraordinary and ground breaking invention. To quote
                        > from the patent:
                        >
                        > > The entire 360-degree lateral field of view around the user is
                        > > captured in a single image *flame*. .... A single image *flame* covers
                        > > the entire 360-degree lateral field of view.
                        > The ability to encode static data such as an image or frame of a video
                        > into the dynamic, largely random and ephemeral medium of a flame has
                        > consequences and application far beyond VR imaging. I am in awe.

                        This patent application seems to have been assembled using the communication
                        tool known as the english language. Perhaps we should patent it and put a stop
                        to these sort of abuses ?
                        mick


                        ----------------------------------------------
                        This mail sent through http://www.ukonline.net
                      • ahoeben41
                        Wim Koorneef asked me to give my 2 cents worth regarding the Ekpar patent. I think he asked me because I have written a panorama viewer, and panorama viewers
                        Message 11 of 13 , Aug 3, 2009
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                          Wim Koorneef asked me to give my 2 cents worth regarding the Ekpar patent. I think he asked me because I have written a panorama viewer, and panorama viewers are mentioned in the patent. There's a dutch patent which has my name on it as the inventor, so I know a bit of dutch patent law, but even less about international law. I am *not a lawyer*, so *don't take this message as more than two cents*.

                          First a small bit about the anatomy of a patent text. When you want to know what is patented, skip the "Abstract" section, and go straight to the "Claims". The Abstract is just a summary, and not always very accurate, in the sense that a lawyer/judge will not grant any rights/make decissions based on what is or is not mentioned in the Abstract. Similarly, all the text after the "Claims" section only serves to clarify the invention, but not everything mentioned in the description is automatically covered by the patent if it is not mentioned in the "Claims".

                          Then there's the "newness" of the invention. It is a mistake to think that an invention has to be new in order to get a patent on it. In many countries, you can get a patent for just about anything. The question is if it will hold up in court if the invention is not new (ie: there exists "prior art"). Even if the patented invention is not new, if "they" have better lawyers then "we", or "we" can't even afford a lawyer, then the patent will hold ground. Also, the combination of several non-new elements into a "novel" system may be considered new enough to hold its own in court. So even seemingly "unpatentable" patents can cause grieve, but only once the patent-holder starts enforcing it.

                          Finally the patent itself. Looking at the claims, nrs 1 and 23 are the big ones; the others fall back to them. If these two turn out to be undefendable, the rest falls with them. If you split claim 1 at the semicolons, you get:
                          An apparatus (...) comprising:
                          a panorama data acquisition unit (...)
                          a transform engine (...) implementing means of correcting distortions
                          a package generator adapted to generate virtual tour packages
                          a viewing engine (...) implementing means for perspective correction, and user interaction
                          a control engine adapted to facilitate a higher level of interaction
                          a display means for rendering output
                          Notice there's no "or" here, so the list seems to be inclusive. It seems that what they are actually patenting is the combination of all these aspects. As long as you are not producing an "apparatus" that does all of this, I don't think you're breaching the patent (but this is just my limited understanding).

                          (note: I don't really get what they means by "stimuli" in the text... but they seem to like the word)

                          The patent claims are very broad. But what they are focussing on in the descriptive text after the claims is quite a bit more specific. From that text it looks like they have developed an optic which makes "donut-type" images (which explains the "usually less than 180 degrees" vertical), and a recursive automated way of calibrating the system. The images that go with the patent text are rather clarifying.

                          If that is what they are seeking to protect, I don't see much of a problem for us going forward. It is entirely possible that mr Ekpar just meant to patent his lens and calibration method, but his patent advisor advised him to keep the claims broader just to include the rest of his work. Note that this is pure speculation on my behalf!

                          At this point, I don't think it is necessary for me to consult a lawyer, but if you are worried I encourage you to do so, rather than get more (or less) worried from "things you read on the forums" (like this post).

                          'do
                        • Wim Koornneef
                          Hello Aldo, Thanks for sharing your analyses of the situation and your thoughts about the patent. They are definitely worth more then just 2 cents ! Best, Wim
                          Message 12 of 13 , Aug 3, 2009
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                            Hello Aldo,

                            Thanks for sharing your analyses of the situation and your thoughts about
                            the patent.
                            They are definitely worth more then just 2 cents !

                            Best,
                            Wim


                            ahoeben wrote:
                            >
                            > Wim Koorneef asked me to give my 2 cents worth regarding the Ekpar patent.
                            > I think he asked me because I have written a panorama viewer, and panorama
                            > viewers are mentioned in the patent. There's a dutch patent which has my
                            > name on it as the inventor, so I know a bit of dutch patent law, but even
                            > less about international law. I am *not a lawyer*, so *don't take this
                            > message as more than two cents*.
                            >
                            > First a small bit about the anatomy of a patent text. When you want to
                            > know what is patented, skip the "Abstract" section, and go straight to the
                            > "Claims". The Abstract is just a summary, and not always very accurate, in
                            > the sense that a lawyer/judge will not grant any rights/make decissions
                            > based on what is or is not mentioned in the Abstract. Similarly, all the
                            > text after the "Claims" section only serves to clarify the invention, but
                            > not everything mentioned in the description is automatically covered by
                            > the patent if it is not mentioned in the "Claims".
                            >
                            > Then there's the "newness" of the invention. It is a mistake to think that
                            > an invention has to be new in order to get a patent on it. In many
                            > countries, you can get a patent for just about anything. The question is
                            > if it will hold up in court if the invention is not new (ie: there exists
                            > "prior art"). Even if the patented invention is not new, if "they" have
                            > better lawyers then "we", or "we" can't even afford a lawyer, then the
                            > patent will hold ground. Also, the combination of several non-new elements
                            > into a "novel" system may be considered new enough to hold its own in
                            > court. So even seemingly "unpatentable" patents can cause grieve, but only
                            > once the patent-holder starts enforcing it.
                            >
                            > Finally the patent itself. Looking at the claims, nrs 1 and 23 are the big
                            > ones; the others fall back to them. If these two turn out to be
                            > undefendable, the rest falls with them. If you split claim 1 at the
                            > semicolons, you get:
                            > An apparatus (...) comprising:
                            > a panorama data acquisition unit (...)
                            > a transform engine (...) implementing means of correcting distortions
                            > a package generator adapted to generate virtual tour packages
                            > a viewing engine (...) implementing means for perspective correction,
                            > and user interaction
                            > a control engine adapted to facilitate a higher level of interaction
                            > a display means for rendering output
                            > Notice there's no "or" here, so the list seems to be inclusive. It seems
                            > that what they are actually patenting is the combination of all these
                            > aspects. As long as you are not producing an "apparatus" that does all of
                            > this, I don't think you're breaching the patent (but this is just my
                            > limited understanding).
                            >
                            > (note: I don't really get what they means by "stimuli" in the text... but
                            > they seem to like the word)
                            >
                            > The patent claims are very broad. But what they are focussing on in the
                            > descriptive text after the claims is quite a bit more specific. From that
                            > text it looks like they have developed an optic which makes "donut-type"
                            > images (which explains the "usually less than 180 degrees" vertical), and
                            > a recursive automated way of calibrating the system. The images that go
                            > with the patent text are rather clarifying.
                            >
                            > If that is what they are seeking to protect, I don't see much of a problem
                            > for us going forward. It is entirely possible that mr Ekpar just meant to
                            > patent his lens and calibration method, but his patent advisor advised him
                            > to keep the claims broader just to include the rest of his work. Note that
                            > this is pure speculation on my behalf!
                            >
                            > At this point, I don't think it is necessary for me to consult a lawyer,
                            > but if you are worried I encourage you to do so, rather than get more (or
                            > less) worried from "things you read on the forums" (like this post).
                            >
                            > 'do
                            >
                            >
                            >

                            --
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