Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Patents Graphics Sony The Courts Apple Your Rights Online

Graphics Rendering Patent Suits Target Apple, Samsung, HTC, RIM, LG and Sony 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-invented-the-pixel dept.
angry tapir writes "Formerly known as Silicon Graphics, Graphics Properties Holdings has filed six separate patent cases against Apple, Samsung, Research In Motion, HTC, Sony and LG with the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The patent at issue in the lawsuits relates to floating point calculations to render graphics, and is registered as patent number 8,144,158 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Graphics Rendering Patent Suits Target Apple, Samsung, HTC, RIM, LG and Sony

Comments Filter:
  • Back in the mid-late '90s, I was a dedicated SGI user, working on an Indy with PhotoShop 3.0 and all that good stuff.

    I'm disappointed to see SGI apparently taking the SCO path here.

    (Ironically, I administered a SCO OpenSewer box far more recently than I got to use any SGI kit.)

    • by Sique (173459) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @06:54AM (#39494707) Homepage

      So tell me what you are administering right now, so I can avoid it due to it becoming first obsolete and then nasty :)

    • by jbolden (176878)

      The haven't fallen to the level of SCO yet. SCO did stuff and then fabricated a claim that IBM did that stuff and thus violated their contract. SCO lied about their copyright status for other materials. They lied about ownership (fraud).

        This patent claim by SCO is different. While it is painful to see SCO using patents not innovation to make money is likely truthful.

    • SGI's assets were bought up by a new shell company around the turn of the millennium. These suits are no more SGI's fault than Oracle's suits are Sun's fault. The sad thing is, just like Sun, SGI was committed to keeping the fruits of their innovations open and available to everyone (e.g. OpenGL) and would never have done this.
  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:23AM (#39494351)

    "Silicon Graphics -> Graphics Properties Holdings"

    Now you have to change your name when you go from "making and selling" to "patent trolling"?

    Ludicrous! What will be next? Bankers renaming themselves to Society Leeches?

  • This makes me sad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mikael_j (106439)

    I was hoping SGI would at least somewhat gracefully fade away, instead someone decided to do a cash grab before the remnants of a once-great company finally disappear...

    • by neokushan (932374)

      This seems to be the norm these days - a company that was formerly massively successful begins to die down and fade away, so in a last ditch attempt to cling to live they sue anyone and everyone that has ever done anything remotely similar to them.

      Going by this logic, it does also mean that Apple must be ready to die soon. I mean, they can't have that much money, can they?

      • Re:This makes me sad (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Rich0 (548339) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @06:53AM (#39494701) Homepage

        This seems to be the norm these days - a company that was formerly massively successful begins to die down and fade away, so in a last ditch attempt to cling to live they sue anyone and everyone that has ever done anything remotely similar to them.

        Every successful company usually becomes that way under a founder. Or a founder-like figure (maybe the company was obscure for 100 years and then takes the world by storm - the leader in this case is like a founder). Under the founder all is well, and the company generally makes net-positive contributions to society.

        Then the founder retires, and his hand-picked successor takes over. They usually start having more of an eye towards whatever the founder hired them for (often marketing, or finance, or whatever). However, they were mentored by the founder and usually are fairly true to the original dream.

        After that the next succession is managed by the board's CEO search committee, and everybody after this could care less about visions and dreams, and instead aim to min/max their balance sheet and bonus check. Companies don't sue people - their leaders do. By the time a company reaches the state SGI is in, nobody who had anything to do with creating anything of worth is in charge.

        Going by this logic, it does also mean that Apple must be ready to die soon. I mean, they can't have that much money, can they?

        Every company is doomed to follow this cycle - it is the nature of wall street. Apple is now operating under the hand-picked successor. He will probably do reasonably well, but one day he will retire. Everything after that will be inertia. Oh, it takes a long time for a huge company to fail, and sometimes you get lucky and the wall street pick might actually turn out to be visionary. However, by-and-large the only innovations at Apple starting with the next CEO will be in the balance sheet.

        Sooner or later you can only cut the bottom line so much before the fall in the top line starts. At that point the company will bleed off anything of worth it still has left, until its only function can be that decreed by law - it is still able to collect money, write checks to the decision-makers, and file lawsuits, shielding the decision-makers from personal liability. It is nothing more than a front at that point, but it will continue on.

        Apple has always been lawsuit-happy, so who knows - perhaps we won't even last another CEO before the slide starts. It all depends on whether they start rewarding the lawyers more than the innovators like they do at most companies.

        • by jbolden (176878)

          Tim Cook has already done quite a bit of innovation in the manufacturing and logistics area. He is more like a Michael Dell than a Steve Jobs but he is not just a balance sheet guy.

          My prediction is that Apple goes mainstream under Cook, becoming something like IBM was in the 1980s.

          • Tim Cook has already

            But he's not the next CEO, he's the current one. The GP's point was that when the founder's hand-picked successor goes, that's when the rot starts.

            • by Rich0 (548339)

              Yup. Like Jobs or not he clearly knew how to make a company successful. Chances are he picked a successor who is likely to have the right stuff, even if he isn't another Jobs.

              It all goes downhill once the search committee takes over. They're going to pick the same kind of CEO that any committee of this sort does. If the next guy has anything to do with Jobs, the committee will have likely picked him because how much he ISN'T like Jobs. People with what it takes to make a company a big success rarely re

              • I would question the idea that Jobs 'knew how to make a company successful.' He had a particular knack for making one company successful. Which is more of a 'fate' thing that anything else. Jobs had quite a few fairly unsuccessful ventures after first leaving Apple and before returning. And he would not, ever, be the sort of person who could immerse himself into any random company and make it successful. His success was in a particular niche of a particular industry. His success was more of a quirk th

            • by jbolden (176878)

              Oh I see. I buy that.

      • I shudder at the thought what will happen to our economy should Microsoft and Apple start to become obsolete...

        I don't dare to think about IBM.

    • by arisvega (1414195)

      I was hoping SGI would at least somewhat gracefully fade away

      I was hoping for a comeback- not like this, though.

  • I did only read the summary of the patent because I go into a brain-dead-mode if I have to read such English....but did they just patent drawing onto a framebuffer using floats instead of ints?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes.

      What is claimed is:

      1. A rendering circuit comprising: a geometry processor; a rasterizer coupled to the geometry processor, the rasterizer comprising a scan converter having an input and an output, the scan converter being configured to scan convert data received at the input, at least a portion of the data received at the input being in floating point format, the scan converter being configured to output data from the output, at least a portion of the data from the output being floating point data; and

      • by rolfeb (1218438)

        Sigh. Independent claim 7 doesn't even have a geometry processor. Filed in 2011, so it's not like it was a good idea from way back.

        It's hard to see how this differs from one of their own cited prior arts patent, US7518615, which contains, for example:

        > 1. A computer system, comprising: a processor for performing geometric calculations on a plurality of vertices of a primitive; a rasterization
        > circuit coupled to the processor that rasterizes the primitive according to a scan conversion process which o

        • by maroberts (15852)

          Its a continuation patent, so I suspect it inherits the filing date of the original patents in exchange for a shorter duration.

        • Sigh. Independent claim 7 doesn't even have a geometry processor.

          Sigh.. won't somebody please think of the rasters?

        • US 7518615 is NOT prior art. It is a different patent based on the same original application as this patent. It's common to split patent applications into multiple patents during the application process to accelerate issuance of parts of the original application.

        • by hazydave (96747)

          Sure looks like some monkey business here. This patent was filed in 2011, but it's actually a filed as a continuation. Here's the critical bit:

          This patent application is a continuation of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/632,262, filed Dec. 7, 2009, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/168,578, filed Jul. 7, 2008, and entitled DISPLAY SYSTEM HAVING FLOATING POINT RASTERIZATION AND FLOATING POINT FRAMEBUFFERING, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. N

  • Such a gluttonous appetite for money; they remind me of two sea cucumbers trying to devour each other.

  • Looks like the patent was issued only yesterday.
  • Keep on suing each other, boys! Sue, sue, sue! That'll teach you a lesson!

  • by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:37AM (#39494415) Homepage Journal

    really. using 16 bit floating point to hold color.

    "yo we patented opengl with 16bit floating point in the 2000's". should be fucking obvious. increasing it to 32bit and 64bit too and other number holding formats.

    • Re:shitty patent (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:46AM (#39494449) Journal
      32 bits is obvious. The half precision floating point format was actually quite neat. It's pretty much useless for anything except graphics, but with 16 bit floats you can represent a far more useful range of colours (for humans) than with 16 bit integers and get a rendering quality that is much closer to 32-bit floats than to 8-bit integers. Maybe not deserving of a patent, but it was considered pretty clever at the time. It made it into OpenGL ES, because it was useful for saving memory on small-footprint devices.
      • Re:shitty patent (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @06:02AM (#39494497)

        Sort of. 32 bits is not obvious. The IEEE standard for this stuff is actually pretty fucking complicated once you realize how much numerical analysis goes into the design. IEEE standardized on a set of formats, and half float is just a variant on those (e.g. the exponent bias is still 2^(E-1)-1). I templatized this for a compiler once - you could have a float with any number of mantissa bits and any number of exponent bits. Shit, should have patented it.

        Plus, this patent is not a patent on half float, it's a patent on using floating-point AT ALL within a GPU. Talk about homesteading the noosphere :)

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        It's just floating point with a different size mantissa/exponent. Not creative or novel in any meaningful way. Certainly not worthy of a patent.

      • 32 bits is obvious. The half precision floating point format was actually quite neat. It's pretty much useless for anything except graphics, but with 16 bit floats you can represent a far more useful range of colours (for humans) than with 16 bit integers and get a rendering quality that is much closer to 32-bit floats than to 8-bit integers. Maybe not deserving of a patent, but it was considered pretty clever at the time.

        The latter is the standard, though. Patents aren't granted to innovative, nonobvious solutions that are sufficiently awesome to be "deserving," because that would be an arbitrary standard and would violate the requirements of due process (the PTO being a quasi-judicial body). Instead, the question is just whether they're novel and nonobvious, and if something is pretty clever, then it doesn't matter whether it cures cancer, renders better fog, or makes an online shopping experience slightly faster. Such que

    • Yes, it should be, however that is not what the patent claimed.

      Claim 1:

      A rendering circuit comprising: a geometry processor; a rasterizer coupled to the geometry processor, the rasterizer comprising a scan converter having an input and an output, the scan converter being configured to scan convert data received at the input, at least a portion of the data received at the input being in floating point format, the scan converter being configured to output data from the output, at least a portion of the data f

  • So, im pretty sure there exists prior art for putting a . behind a number to mark some fraction of a number
  • Simply shoot the lawyers and the "Graphics Properties Holdings" to death. This already gone too far.
  • Look at the date on the patent. There is a massive amount of prior art. This is a silly patent and lawsuit.

    Regards,
    proclus
    http://www.gnu-darwin.org/ [gnu-darwin.org]

  • I don't think there is anyone who is going to question SGI's degree of innovation or importance in the industry. I'd hope that most of their patents are expired or near expired because turning the company into a patent troll is like necrophilia, defaming the body of the dead to satisfy the living. That being said, there could be a lot of innovations there we all take for granted and this could be really harmful. I sincerely hope that they lose while being very afraid they'll win.

    • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@ p ... r e trograde.com> on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @09:54AM (#39495943)

      I don't think there is anyone who is going to question SGI's degree of innovation or importance in the industry.

      What the fuck am I reading? Did you read their patent?! There's a big difference between being Innovative, and being the first iteration. It's sure great to be the latter, but it shouldn't grant you monopolies over the iterative shit you do. You, sir, are seriously WRONG. I, for one, question SGI's degree of "innovation" considering it was primarily obvious iteration. Furthermore, I put it to you that if SGI didn't exist, someone else would have done it just as well, possibly even better. Ergo, they weren't at all more important than the next guy.

      "Genius" isn't. Hey, what's the symbol for an ingenious idea? A light bulb? Edison's "invention" was iterative. Two years prior there was an improved incandescent light in a vacuum patent in the European patent office... It wasn't some remarkable leap of insight, Edison just tried stuff until it worked! Elisha Gray and Gram Bell BOTH invented the telephone i.e. using mercury as a variable resistor to put voice down the line that we were already using for communication (telegraph) -- Bell was AN HOUR sooner to the patent office, Gray went to the poorhouse. It was clearly ITERATION. People knew that you could detect sound waves and people knew you could communicate via wire. Are you saying that the twain would never have met if it weren't for a single Marvellous Brilliant Genius? WRONG! If the problem is important enough it WILL be solved (if it's solvable). SGI was first. SO WHAT. Edison was first to make a marketable bulb. We'd still have incandescent bulbs today if he had been struck and killed by the fabled lightning... We'd have had the Telephone AN HOUR LATER if Mr Bell had never existed.

      We've increased the population of humans H in the problem space to the point that any monopoly on an idea nearly immediately harms independent "inventors". The average technician skilled in the art has a chance of creating the solution S. The number of new ie "patentable" solutions P to a problem in a given time interval T is P = SH/T
      It's plain to see that as H increases, so to does the number of patentable solutions.
      ( This is because THERE IS NO TEST FOR OBVIOUSNESS -- The PTO does not employ individuals adequately skilled in the arts [these folk are WORKING in their fields]! Consequently, the PTO just ensures that the forms are signed, grants patents over anything that's not already in their Database and let's the court sort it out )

      The problem is that there are actually VASTLY more people just getting shit done and realising that their work is iterative, than there are dumb lazy fucks who can't think for themselves so they look through the patent system database to see who's ideas they can use -- THE LATTER DOES NOT ACTUALLY EXIST! Everyone just solves their own damn problems rather than pay Patent Tax! The system is useless! Since EVERYONE is some degree of a Genius, Geniuses aren't special, otherwise we would actually search for patented solutions to use. In some fields where the research cost is high, you may do this, but in Software?! It's just Math, and Math is EASY.

      Patents reward investment in research OF ONLY THE FIRST RESEARCHER. It's moronic to think that an idea monopoly won't harm THE ENTIRE REST OF THE FIELD as they're taxed for not getting there first or have to work around an obvious solution to avoid legal fees to invalidate P. It's even more retarding to get on your knees and worship the first iterating company as if it's the ONLY one in the field because it can pay for more H to produce P in less T. If you can pay for more H, then you get more P in less T; It's quite simple.

      The bar for "Genius" has been lowered to average Joe engineer. It's your style of Mental Fellatio that's to blame for our current state of affairs...

      • by jbolden (176878)

        OK lets list some innovations of theirs:

        first use of integrated frame buffering for graphics
        first use of multibus which brought the price of workstations down to the $5k-10k level capable of doing work like real time audio
        first use of floating point accelerator technology for graphics
        first use of multiple hardware graphics accelerators
        first system capable of handling 3 video streams simultaneously, essentially inventing video mixing.
        most of the ideas from ACE are used in today's supercomputers.

        Now the rest

  • This is stupid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by msobkow (48369) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:43AM (#39495229) Homepage Journal

    This is one of the stupidest patents I've ever heard of.

    Even back in the fall of 1986 at University of Saskatchewan in my graphics class, the algorithms we started with were presented as floating point algorithms. We were then shown the integer variants on those algorithms, which we were told bluntly were used only because they were faster than floating point emulation.

    So they got a patent for doing something that we were told not to do purely for performance reasons, not for any reason of logic or functionality. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind this whole patent should be overturned.

    And, yes, I was heavily into computer graphics at the time. I even was a contributing publisher to a paper on the "Fast Line Clipping" algorithm, which really, in retrospect, was not so much an innovation as an example of a very advanced special case of loop and conditional unrolling that some of the more advanced modern compilers can probably to automatically at this present time. If you want to check out that crufty old article, you'll have a better chance of finding it by searching for Yang or Pospisil, the professor and grad student for the project; I was just a fourth year programmer at the time.

    No, we didn't patent our algorithm. Back then the point of research and development was to learn and share, not to squat and sue.

    • This is one of the stupidest patents I've ever heard of.

      This statement is equally valid for all software patents. There is nothing in this software patent that is any stupider than anything in any other software patent. They are all equally stupid, and should never have been granted to begin with.

      All it took to bring this country's creative innovation to a screeching halt was one stupid appeals court decision that math and algorithms were patentable.

  • They buy a property low and then milk it for all they can get. They are true red neck entrepreneurs. Patents are there to protect the creators/inventor and their family to make a reasonable profit on the idea for a limited number of years. What the "owner"/"entrepreneurs" have done is take that idea, bundle the IP as a commodity and buy and sell it on the secondary market. Very different than the intent of the law and creates a system that does not favor the inventor. Much like the pay day loan business

    • by Matheus (586080)

      When do we get the reality TV show!? "Pawn Stars -- USPTO" and "Pawn Stars -- Wall Street". We've already seen plenty of activity from both and it's popular as ever! There's plenty of nuts doing the work to make the show interesting too. Gotta sell this crap to the History channel fast!

  • by sl3xd (111641) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @01:35PM (#39498415) Journal

    The claim that "Graphics Properties Holdings" is the former SGI is wrong.

    SGI still exists, and has nothing to do with "Graphics Properties Holdings."

    SGI had a troubled history in the dot com bust, and sold off many assets to keep itself afloat. SGI stopped making their own graphics hardware years ago; a number of patents were sold at the time, apparently a few made it to patent trolls. The current "Cray" was another case of SGI selling the trademarks and brands to Tera Computer Company - SGI kept most of the Cray engineers.

    Silicon Graphics Inc. then died a slow death, going into bankruptcy twice before being bought by Rackable, which kept most of the SGI employees, and renamed itself SGI.

    SGI still exists more or less unchanged from the SGI of yesteryear (though without MIPS, IRIX, or graphics workstations) - and is not part of "Graphics Properties Holdings."

I am the wandering glitch -- catch me if you can.

Working...