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Re: [PanoToolsNG] Re: ivrpa patent fund - without prejudice

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  • Matthew Rogers - 360Precision
    Clearly I m not a patent lawyer and the legalities surrounding this subject can be extremely complicated. What I can say though is I did spend a huge amount
    Message 1 of 79 , Apr 30 4:28 AM
      Clearly I'm not a patent lawyer and the legalities surrounding this subject can be extremely complicated. What I can say though is I did spend a huge amount of time researching patents and reading up on the laws when we were releasing our panoheads. I also met with and spoke in length to an IP lawyer about the patent system and the way it works. My research over the last few days is simply a refresher in what I previously learnt.

      After doing a few more hours reading into patents on how to verify whether or not our images/tour infringe on the patent it is clear they don't. The big killer for this patent is the use of commonly defined terms. When you write a patent any term or definition used has to be taken by it's plain meaning unless specifically stated on the patent.

      Basically you need to break the claim down into it's elements first:

      Claim 1. A method for:

      1. Digitally rendering Omni direction images
      2. Capturing images surrounding an origin point in a at least two hemispheres
      3. Assembling the images in a digital format to create a complete spherical image surrounding the origin point
      4. Projecting the spherical image onto faces of a to cube surrounding the spherical image
      5. Storing images projected on the faces of the cube to provide an omni-directional image

      To infringe on claim 1 as the issued letters state you have to infring all 5 points above.

      For our uses this patent falls apart mainly on two points in claim 1, point 1 and point 5.

      1. Digitally rendering

      This patent has no meaning unless somehow the images you're creating are digital renderings which by definition can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rendering_(computer_graphics)

      Digital rendering does NOT mean displaying digitally, retrieving from a digital format to be displayed on a device, etc.

      Whether this is what the patent owners actually meant is completely irrelevant. If for some bizarre reason a tour provider/publisher did end up in court then it would be a very simple process to prove that the images are not in-fact digital renderings.

      If the patent owners wanted the term to mean something else they would then need to define their meaning of the term which they haven't.

      Just read this part of the Abstract "The spherical image is projected onto faces of a cube surrounding the spherical image. Images which were projected on the faces of the cube may then be rendered to provide an omni-directional image."

      There's really no arguing with the terms used in the Abstract. Yes you can say that projected and rendered have other meanings but not in this context they don't.

      To anyone in the 3D field this reads as texture mapping or camera projection of the spherical image onto a cube then rendered. What we're not seeing is the patent owners filling notes and explanations of their terms used during the patent application process. I'd assume from the fact that no one has been taken to court would suggest the scope of the claims are far more narrow then we're lead to believe. The patent owners may have made very specific statements regarding their meanings of terms and uses which would drastically reduce the scope of the claims.

      These notes and explanations should really be made public to remove any ambiguity from patent claims.

      5. Storing images projected on the faces of the cube to provide an omni-directional image

      This point doesn't cover the storage of ANY image, it specifically covers the storage of images in a cubic format. Unless you're actually storing your images as 6 cube faces again you have nothing to worry about.

      Another very interesting point is the fact the the patent directly references Ken Turkowski's method of fisheye projection to bypass the Ipix patent. I'd assume this is referenced to show in-fact that their own methods are different enough from his method to nullify Ken's work as prior art. I see no other reason to reference it.

      If I personally or a client received a letter from these goons I'd simply reply with the fact that we use the methods as outlined by Ken. I'd be very surprised if they were ever heard from again.

      If the IVRPA is planning on spending the money to have the patent overturned then it's going to be wasted. The sad facts are, the patent will not be overturned and I can’t see anyway to stop these goons from intimidating clients. The only viable way I can see this being resolved is by educating your clients and explaining that regardless of the claims made in the patent the work your providing doesn't infringe on any of the claims. Personally I'd include a liability waiver in the contract to say as much. I'd personally accept any liabilities arising from the prosecution of the patent because I know it would never happen.

      If this patent had any legs in relation to our work people would have been sued.


      On 29 Apr 2011, at 23:33, David wrote:

      > --- In PanoToolsNG@yahoogroups.com, Matthew Rogers - 360Precision <matthew@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > These guys can't pick and choose which parts of their claims apply, either the claim applies in full or it doesn't. Their patent in essence is made up of 3 full claims. To infringe on the patent you have to be infringing on the main claim then in-turn all subsets of that claim.
      > >
      > I don't believe this is quite true.
      > Claims are independent, or dependent on previously stated claims.
      > The independent claims are the general broad ones you want to get accepted, such as claim 1. It stands as an enforceable claim independently of any others. It's the most powerful and troublesome since it is very general and covers many embodiments. The dependent claims are added to narrow the scope and more specifically protect the preferred embodiment. If a dependent claim is overturned the higher level claims are still in force.
      > If the independent claim 1 is overturned then the dependent claims underneath it may still be upheld and enforceable because or their narrower scope. That's why you put in a real general independent claim and follow it with increasingly detailed dependent claims. (If you have a smart patent examiner he will force you to narrow the independent claims if they try to cover more than they ought to.) The broad independent claim gives wide coverage and the ability to harass everyone for infringement. The dependent claims more specifically protect your preferred embodiment and are less likely to be overturned if you get challenged in court. I think in this case if claim 1 were invalidated then no one would care if the other claims stood or not, since they are narrower and easy to circumvent.
      > So any infringement of any independent claim is an enforceable offense. Likewise if what you are doing matches the description of a dependent claim and all the higher level claims above it then that is also an enforceable offense. But you don't have to infringe them all, and in particular if you infringe the independent claim 1 you can be sued for it, even if you don't infringe any of the others.
      > The only real escape clause I see here is that claim one specifically mentions using some number of two or more 'hemispheres'. That seems like maybe you could argue that if your lens or input image is less than 180 deg, say maybe 160, it doesn't technically qualify as a hemisphere. But that's just word games and maybe in the body somewhere they define their use of the word hemisphere in such a way as to support a broader interpretation.
      > I don't want to sound like I'm defending this patent because I am not. Just trying to point out the realities of the situation. If you have a patent attny who tells you something different, then please listen to him instead of me.
      > David B
    • djaurand
      Scott Henry mentioned he hasn t heard from Handal in a little while after just a token effort disputing his claims And I was thinking the letter from one of
      Message 79 of 79 , May 5, 2011
        Henry mentioned he hasn't heard from Handal in a little while after just a token effort disputing his claims

        And I was thinking the letter from one of IVRPA's attorneys working on this might provide a little comfort to our customers, the ones being being theatened, being from an....attorney with a different view

        You guys are playing for the long game, but there's a short game too

        Like keeping customers and getting more business

        Doug Aurand

        --- In PanoToolsNG@yahoogroups.com, Scott Witte <scottw@...> wrote:
        > That is what Henry tried. It makes no difference, certainly not to Handal.
        > Scott
        > On 5/5/2011 1:55 PM, djaurand wrote:
        > > My thinking was to have a trial attorney look at the infringement
        > > claims made in the Hotel Mella letter, consult with an IP attorney,
        > > and produce a response letter for any of Handals future cease & desist
        > > letters
        > --
        > Scott Witte
        > <http://www.scottwitte.com>
        > <http://www.tourdeforce360.com>
        > 414.345.9660
        > Member, IVRPA
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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