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From GameDaily

Spherical planning"

Exclusive: Multi-Publisher Legal War Looms Over 3-D Patent

A patent infringement case for the patent, "Method and Apparatus for Spherical Planning," is now pending. The case could have enormous implications and could affect nearly every 3-D video game ever made. Put on your 3-D glasses and read all about it...

GameDAILY BIZ received word recently that Texas-based law firm McKool Smith has sued 12 major game publishers and is threatening legal action against several smaller companies as well. Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Activision, Atari, THQ, Vivendi Universal Games, Sega, Square Enix, Tecmo, LucasArts, and Namco Hometek are all named as defendants in the case.

Seeing $$$ in 3-D

McKool Smith contends that these 12 companies infringed on their patent, "Method and Apparatus for Spherical Planning," or patent 4,734,690. The patent was originally filed in March 1988 for a specific method of displaying 3-D images on a monitor.

What typically happens in patent infringement cases is the patent holder seeks a percentage of all sales of any products that infringed on their patent. The percentage taken can be very low or very high, and therein lies much of the battling. In this particular case the stakes are potentially astronomically high, as every 3-D title any of these 12 publishers has published could potentially be found to be in violation, with damages due to the patent holder. Interestingly, the complaint filed against the companies does not list any specific damages they are seeking, and instead opted to leave it open at this time.

[ "Common sense says it's ridiculous, and from a moral standpoint it's outrageous," anonymous employee at major publisher ]

An abuse of the legal system?

"It's a very old and very general patent showing a method that uses a moving plane to show 3-D images. The patent is ridiculously broad. It's purely McKool Smith trying to make money. It's an abuse of the legal system," an employee of a major publisher speaking on a condition of anonymity told GameDAILY BIZ.

"McKool Smith is financing their major litigation against the 12 publishers by threatening smaller companies and then getting them to settle," the employee continued.

It's too early to say what level of success McKool Smith will have (if any), but one thing is for sure: they're taking the case very seriously. Eight of the twelve are being defended by the same law firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP, and it appears that the case is going to make it to court.

"Publishers should be very worried. They might have a leg to stand on from a legal standpoint. It's not impossible that McKool Smith will win. A lot of very smart people are taking this very seriously. Common sense says it's ridiculous, and from a moral standpoint it's outrageous," the employee said.

Lawyers lips sealed

Neither side seems particularly eager to discuss the details of the case at this time. "Our preference at this time would be not to comment on pending litigation," Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP told GameDAILY BIZ. McKool Smith did not return our phone calls either.

GameDAILY BIZ will continue to monitor this case in the coming weeks and months.

:blink:

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One more example that the US Patent Office should be taken outside, and kicked in the head until they realize you don't issue patents for simple, basic concepts.

Maybe I should patent the use of lungs for absorbing of oxygen into the bloodstream, and sue the rest of the planet for stealing my idea. :wall:

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What was it BT (UK's telecommuncations giant) sued the world for... web links wasn't it?

Sheesh :wall:

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wow just wow....

omg i swear breadcrust was my idea! and so was dominoes Cheezy bread!

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I wonder if McKool Smith wins this legal action that they will bleed the 12 game companies dry which in turn would leed to less money spent on game making for a period of time?

But if the 12 game companies join forces to fight McKool Smith then im sure the sue'er will become the sued.

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Seriously though, UBI Soft should be sued ... but not for this, they should be slammed for "Producing Beta stage games to the public, to then issue updates - UBI keyword : "Backdates" - as nessesary based on the beta public complaints" ... :shifty:

Or simply put "Raven Shield". LOL.

Back to topic : this is bloody stupid isnt it, mind you soon there will soon be patents on thoughts, so the though-police can av' you on even thinking you think you have a patent, its realy something to think about ist it ..... damn, the police are at the door ..... :(:)

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You can tell this is all for the money...

He's only after the rich publishers.

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@Deadly_Sniper.

Damn you found the loophole...I patented ice-water from the sky last week. To me it seems to be a straight money grab....anyone willing to bet there will be an out of court settlement?

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I read somewhere that there were games out before '88 that used that technique, so this patent will be removed or something by the court

I dont think it will effect us anyway :) no worries

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You can tell this is all for the money...

nah really?

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Actually, they're only after the rich publishers because they finally have enough money to afford to take on the big guys.

How did they get the money? By suing small publishers first, and forcing them to settle out of court.

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I want a representative of McKool Smith right here, right now and make a debate! :o=

Isn't it obvious or fishy why on earth did they just make the charge now for the patent (if there is/was) was created in 1988, arent they blind or are they that stupid not seeing 3D Games for 16 YEARS! 16 years back the lawyers could have been playing 3D games that time for they are high school - college students that time. Arent they stupid that the lawyers children will have no games to play because of them. (To all the children of the lawyers of that firm, sue your parents if you dont have games to play after 16 years!) :devil: They should have made the charge by 1988 or 1989 at most! And what the hell the patent office is doing that time and didnt made the charges (if such patent exists) when 3D games are made and reached the market. :nono:

hey yo McKool Smith knock your heads and get back to the real world, stop wandering in the matrix :wall:

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McKool Smith didn't file the patent, they obtained it from the original patent filer. They have only had it for a short period of time, during which they have been suing small companies, flying under the radar so to speak.

Now they can afford to go after the big companies, thus we see them going after Ubisoft, EA, etc.

They haven't been sitting on this for 16 years. The new owner of the patent has been actively pursuing whom it sees as violators ever since they obtained the patent, which was not very long ago.

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Does this smell of the SCO compnay trying to sue everyone for the use of linux? :devil:

Yes.... stupid SCO..... go away! :angry:

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how about this, a man on trial tried to beat his case because he had a copyright on his own name, therefore his name could not be said without his permission !!!

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I want a representative of McKool Smith right here, right now and make a debate! :o=

Isn't it obvious or fishy why on earth did they just make the charge now for the patent (if there is/was) was created in 1988, arent they blind or are they that stupid not seeing 3D Games for 16 YEARS! 16 years back the lawyers could have been playing 3D games that time for they are high school - college students that time. Arent they stupid that the lawyers children will have no games to play because of them. (To all the children of the lawyers of that firm, sue your parents if you dont have games to play after 16 years!) :devil:  They should have made the charge by 1988 or 1989 at most! And what the hell the patent office is doing that time and didnt made the charges (if such patent exists) when 3D games are made and reached the market. :nono:

hey yo McKool Smith knock your heads and get back to the real world, stop wandering in the matrix :wall:

a mass debate?

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What was it BT (UK's telecommuncations giant) sued the world for... web links wasn't it?

Sheesh  :wall:

IIRC, BT actually had a defensible case in that they had a patent covering what could be considered generic hyperlinking that predated the WWW protocols, though I'm unclear whether it predated all hyperlink-like technologies that had been researched at places like PARC.

However, this patent is rather more dubious as 3-D to 2-D projection algorithms were a standard part of my undergraduate CS course several years before the patent was issued.

The main patent (apparently there are around 25 involved) is at: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?...RS=PN/4,734,690

it's fairly badly garbled by being transformed into patent-speak, but seems to be a combination of the established matrix transformation algorithms for projecting a 3-d scene onto a 2-d screen together with the idea of controlling the position of that screen relative to the 3-d scene via external physical controls, and with some reference to a method of speeding up processing that I never found a clear explanation of. The patent originates with Tektronix who were a prominent graphics workstation manufacturer back then, but has changed hands several times since. The intended application appears to be CAD, but could be applied to computer games.

If the patent was 10 years older they might have a case, but by the time I was taught the relevant algorithm's in '84 or '85 there were several computer games on the market that were almost certainly using these techniques with wireframe graphics (Acornsoft in their flight simulator whose name is escaping me and David Braben in 'Elite'). Fast forward to '88 when the patent was awarded and you're into solid 3D games like Falcon on the ST. It looks like as usual the US Patent Office issued a software patent that any undergrad could have shown was invalid given about five minutes work to find the appropriate page in his lecture notes.

The problem if this goes to trial is going to be getting a jury to understand undergraduate level matrix maths/graphics algorithms.

There's a more up to date summary on The Register at http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/05/gr...nt_suit_update/

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@Deadly_Sniper.

Damn you found the loophole...I patented ice-water from the sky last week. To me it seems to be a straight money grab....anyone willing to bet there will be an out of court settlement?

:rofl:

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