IPIX vs VR Developers
15th September 1999
With no resolution yet in sight in the dispute between IPIX and Helmut, it has come to our attention that yet another small developer has been apparently shafted and litigated at by the IPIX and their legal machine. In a case that dates back prior to 1994 when IPIX operated under the name of TRI, this story includes trade secret misappropriation, patent infringement charges against IPIX (1998-99), and the now familiar volley of somewhat flimsy counter-accusations from the IPIX legal machine. Read about Ford Oxaal's plight at pictosphere - 21st century media by following the link to Oxaal Vs. IPIX: the Real Story.
15/16th June 1999
Despite conflicting reports of their intentions from within IPIX, resolution seems unlikely as IPIX lawyers turn up the heat. See Helmut's comments (mirror) and a letter to IPIX lawyers (mirror). Please use the direct (first) links if at all possible. Mirrors may not be as up to date as the direct links, and relative links within the mirrored documents may not work.
Wed, 14 Apr 1999
At 18:12 Helmut's site is 98% online again. We welcome Helmut back!
As we have no word (as yet) as to the status of the IPIX claims and charges, this forum will remain open for as long as necessary. The background materials will remain as a matter or historical record. Some material linked from but not contained within this site may no longer be available. This is beyond our control.
The story so far:
When independent German software developerHelmut Dersch attracted the attentions of the "about to float" IPIX (Interactive Pictures Corporation) he was forced to take his web site off-line until he could defend what proved to be false and mis-leading accusations from IPIX's UK based heavy-handed legal team.
We appologise for any inconvenience, but the documents referenced below may no longer be available from Germany due to legal pressure. The links will remain in the hope that justice prevails. On the other hand, if there happen to be any archived copies in countries where free speech is protected, or IPIX not feared, I could link them in here.
While IPIX did appologise for the proven false accusations, they seemed more concerned that the correspondence had been aired in the public forum of the net. It begs the question "What are they trying to hide?" They STILL expressed concerns that require Helmut's site be kept off-line, but would not substantiate their claims. In order to respect the copyright statement in the IPIX correspondence (although they are well and truly in the public forum world-wide already), the links above are to the original publications on the "intended recipient's" site as "any dissemination, distribution, retention, archiving, or copying of the communication is strictly prohibited" So will you all please now turn off your proxies before NOT accessing these links ... and if you do access these documents, which IPIX don't want you to anyway, please clear your cache and memory after leaving. Wouldn't want any stray "archived" copies sitting around anyone's hard disk now ...
The IQTVRA's position on this important issue including links to supporters (The IQTVRA is the International Quicktime VR Association)
Solidarity from the VR Community - a small sample of the furore caused by the IPIX actions.
Additional protest information sites:
IPIX has a prior history heavy-handed legal tactics aimed at perceived "competitors".
They have used various patents they own as weapons to prevent any other software developer producing software to create spherical panoramas from images obtained from 8mm fisheye lenses. This has also annoyed multi-media developers and limited their choice and the availability of image manipulation tools.
Patent infringement was used against at least two other software developers.
Infinite Pictures was sued by IPIX with IPIX winnning a million dollar judgement against them. Infinite Pictures had a program that could stitch 3 fisheye images into a full sphere image. Infinite Pictures has since developed a program for stitching rectilinear images into a full sphere image. This is sold in conjunction
with a two axis rotator built by Kaidan.
IPIX also threatened Live Picture and made them remove the circular image fisheye processing capability from their product 'PhotoVista'.
The loss of these products and functionality has also disadvantaged users of the software causing considerable inconvenience, potentially additional costs and limiting the choice of available tools to the end user market.
The awarding of this patent in the first place has been called into question within the developer community numerous times. There are cited cases of what would appear to be "prior-art" that would seem to invalidate the broad scope of the IPIX claim.
- Ipix (known) patents (1), (2) including additional links to related patent applications. These are all the patents for Telerobotics who became Omniview who became Intractive Pictures/Ipix :- 5185667,5313306,5359363,5384588,5764276,5877801
- Dan Slaters observations, research and "prior art"
- Mon, 12 Apr 1999 Further patent interpretations
Includes questions for a patent attourney and scarey implications for ALL VR developers IF this interpretation is correct.
- Tues, 13 Apr 1999 1980's Documentary (details still sketchy)
- Tues, 13 Apr 1999 Copyright and Intellectual Property information from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
- Tues, 13 Apr 1999 An Intellectual Property Law Primer for Multimedia and Web Developers
"The 3rd and following paragraphs in the Patent Law section would seem to indicate that IPIX doesn't have a claim. To qualify for a "utility" patent they must have shown their invention met a "new", "useful" and "non-obvious" test. If the process had been described in writing prior to the patent request, it fails the "non-obvious" test. Well, their patent date is 1991 and the Ripley article in the Communicatioms ACM is 1989."
The Communications of the ACM is a fairly major, regular industry publication. Given the growing references to what seems "prior art", can anyone explain how the IPIX patent, as it is written, was ever granted in the first place? We'd really like to know.
- Tues, 13 Apr 1999 Previous patent reversal - Compton.
"The patent office has come under sharp criticism for issuing broad, non-technical patents and the Compton's patent isn't the first."
- Additional "prior art" anyone? Anyone who has papers concerning prior art or the facility to research them please make them avilable to this and other VR forums concerned with this issue.
- IPIX comments??
If IPIX would like to comment, I would be glad to post a URL here ...
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