Skip to main content

Patent '690 Prior Art Search

Posted by redwyre on Sun, 27/03/05 - 2:20 AM

From the March 2005 IGDA newsletter"

There is an ongoing patent litigation case in the Eastern District of Texas of interest to all developers because of how broadly the Plaintiff appears to want to apply the claims of the patent. In this case, American Video Graphics, L.P. ("Plaintiff") has sued sixteen game publishers, alleging that these defendants infringe AVG's U.S. Patent No. 4,734,690, "Method and Apparatus for Spherical Panning." See Jim Charne's commentary in this month's Famous Last Words:

Plaintiff has identified over 1000 accused games, which Plaintiff alleges infringe their '690 patent. The '690 patent abstract states: "A graphics display terminal performs a pan operation with respect to a view motion center to effectuate spherical panning, thereby providing perspective and non-perspective views. Three dimensional instructions stored in terminal memory are re-transformed in accordance with a panned direction..." Full patent details available at the USPTO:

More specifically, we are looking for prior art (textbooks, references, articles, or other publications) with a date of publication of before July 23, 1983 which would invalidate the '690 patent. This art must cover the claims of the patent, including a method and system which defines a "first" and a "second three-dimensional coordinate modeling space"; with a "viewing space being movable at a selected radial distance around a selected reference point in the modeling space;" and effects a "transform of the coordinates of the object to the viewing space and to a two-dimensional coordinate screen space." Further, ideally the prior art would also provide a method whereby the user can change the pitch, yaw or roll of the viewing space, and also specify a radial distance at which the object may be viewed.

If you know of any such prior art, please contact the IGDA's IP Rights Committee at as soon as possible.

Submitted by Kezza on Sun, 27/03/05 - 6:55 AM Permalink

Remind me again why we have software patents?

Submitted by souri on Sun, 27/03/05 - 3:26 PM Permalink

"Plaintiff has identified over 1000 accused games, which Plaintiff alleges infringe their '690 patent." [xx(]

Wasn't there some games company trying to patent a rendering method or something like that a while back ago? It caused quite a bit of a stir then too.

Submitted by Kezza on Sun, 27/03/05 - 10:36 PM Permalink

The last one that was this stupid to my memory was the "worlds dot com" incident, where a company claimed it had patents that were breached by every first and third person 3d multiplayer game.

The problem this time is that although the patent was issued in July 1984, prior art must date before July 23 1983... We're talking the early Foley & Van Damme era of computer graphics here.

However in this case it's quite easy to point out that this patent is not a method, but a result of any number of mathimatical methods. So it's pretty hard to call it an "invention". The case will probably not hold up very long in a court, but pior art would likley prevent a court case entirely.

Submitted by mcdrewski on Sun, 27/03/05 - 11:47 PM Permalink

BattleZone, 1980? I seem to recall the version I had on my Apple II displayed a spinning 3d model of the various enemies on the "training" screen.

Submitted by mcdrewski on Mon, 28/03/05 - 1:29 AM Permalink

...just checked in MAME - the arcade version of BZ doesn't seem to have 'em, and the various ports are as late as 1985.

It does seem a fairly obvious application of Euler's work though, and I have a feeling that was a bit before 1980.

Submitted by LiveWire on Wed, 30/03/05 - 2:48 AM Permalink

i read about this in atomic. money grabbing law suit basically. so what happens if they win? do they then own the rights to display any type of 3D images? there goes the industry. but the chances of them winning seems very close to nil.

about the date: by proving the technology was in use before the patent was registered effectivly makes the patent, and their case, void.

Submitted by mcdrewski on Wed, 30/03/05 - 9:19 PM Permalink

basically, you know that thing in every 3D game ever where you get to see your vehicle, character, weapon etc standing static on screen, and you rotate around it, zoom in, zoom out etc?

That's what their patent does. It's the sort of obvious mathematical process I wrote in applesoft basic in high school. I never realised that by applying perspective drawing (High School Technical Drawing/Graphics) and matrix multiplication (High School advanced Maths) I would be breaching a patent.

Submitted by lorien on Fri, 01/04/05 - 12:57 AM Permalink

[insert rant about dirty money grabbing scumbags]

Here is a humerous (but true) story: a melbourne guy succeeded in getting a patent on the wheel a while back

He called it a "circular transportation facilitation device". At least it was a crap innovation patent, not a real one, and he was doing it to show how stuffed the patent system is.

The really bad news is thanks to Little Johnny and his free trade agreement all the insane American software patents are legal here now. Including Microsoft's infamous Double Click and Lasso Select patents :(

Submitted by mcdrewski on Fri, 01/04/05 - 1:11 AM Permalink

Not to go too far OT, but US Patent 6,368,227 is for a way of swinging on a swing

In an interview with New Scientist Magazine, Peter Olson said, "I had told him that if he [Olson Junior] invented something he could file a patent." Any patent has to pass the "prior art" test, in which the applicant must prove that his invention is new and has not been done before. Thus, the US Patent Office initially rejected the application for prior art, citing two earlier patents on swings, but Peter Olson appealed, noting that neither was a method for swinging sideways, and the patent was then issued.