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Scene Graph Technology Patented by Sun

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soundjata
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Joined: 2004-08-23

I was shocked to see that Sun Micosystems
claimed a patent on scene graph technology.
http://swpat.ffii.org/pikta/txt/ep/1224/622/
I just wondered about finding no other mention of the topic beside this site.

For me many questions arise from that:

1. Using a scene graph was definetly not invented by Sun.
At least I remember Inventor and VRML originating from
the SGI era, but there may be others even earlier.

2. I didn't understand whether this patent is still
underway or alread granted.

3. How does the patent influenc the java3d open source
development process?

4. Will Sun be able to retrack the whole process by
simply claiming their patent? Or did they disclaim
their rights as any other who contribute code do?

5. Are they eventually trying to hide existence of this patent?

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geoff
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Joined: 2004-03-04

yo. object oriented technology is all in the mind.

Mike Pilone

In theory, once the patent is granted, Sun could prevent others from using
exactly what the patent describes, or sue them for damages for using the
technology up to this point.

However Java3D and any contributions would be held under the individual
licenses that Sun is using. Take a look at the licenses (I believe they are
linked from the java.net pages) before using or contributing if you are
concerned.

Of course patents from large companies like this should be taken with a
grain of salt. Corporations patent everything they possibly can to look
better for investors and to have a legal arsenal should they need it in the
future. Most of the patents won't hold up against prior art, but unless
someone cares enough to fight it at the PTO, the patent will be granted.
Unless Sun tries to shutdown other scenegraph implementations, I wouldn't
worry about it. IBM, one of the largest patent portfolio holders, received
over 3000 patents last year. If you're counting, that is about 10 a day.

Also, patents allow for the improvement on an existing idea, so new
scenegraphs can also be implemented and patented, as long as they do
something Sun's patent didn't describe. Of course, IANAL.

-mike

-----Original Message-----
From: java3d-interest@javadesktop.org
[mailto:java3d-interest@javadesktop.org]
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2004 5:48 AM
To: interest@java3d.dev.java.net
Subject: [JAVA3D-INTEREST] Scene Graph Technology Patented by Sun

I was shocked to see that Sun Micosystems
claimed a patent on scene graph technology.
http://swpat.ffii.org/pikta/txt/ep/1224/622/
I just wondered about finding no other mention of the topic beside this
site.

For me many questions arise from that:

1. Using a scene graph was definetly not invented by Sun.
At least I remember Inventor and VRML originating from
the SGI era, but there may be others even earlier.

2. I didn't understand whether this patent is still
underway or alread granted.

3. How does the patent influenc the java3d open source
development process?

4. Will Sun be able to retrack the whole process by
simply claiming their patent? Or did they disclaim
their rights as any other who contribute code do?

5. Are they eventually trying to hide existence of this patent?
---
[Message sent by forum member 'soundjata' (soundjata)]

http://www.javadesktop.org/forums/thread.jspa?messageID=24453&#24453

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pepe
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Joined: 2003-06-10

As far as it is written, they do not patent scenegraph, but the method to have a second set of data (optimised) that is processed by API, instead of the sceneGraph itself.
Heh, that patent is a nice doc about how java3d works. Why not including it with proper graphs (not present in presentation) in the official doc?
* saves the patent text for sleepless nights..

nvaidya
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Joined: 2004-08-03

Disclaimer: I'm a scientist/engineer *NOT A LAWYER*...
It looks like the emphasis probably is on *multi-threaded* scenegraphs...but then Java is inherently multi-threaded...

I was just about to comment the same...the patent doc does describe the inner workings of Java 3D ! Will the doc (dated 2001 ?) will still be current though ?

Don't underestimate the patents though. I've spent nearly 3 months working on and implementing improvised alternatives for the Marching Cube algorithm patented by GE. I've what I believe is a decent implementation, but still not as good as MC for general polyhedra in terms of poly counts. I won't be able to use MC until the patent expires.

pepe
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Joined: 2003-06-10

From what i could understand from "actual docs" ( AKA the sources ;) ) it is still current. In fact, it is logical that is still okay: If not, why patenting?

nvaidya
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Joined: 2004-08-03

Yes, you're right about the overall design logic. But, what I was wondering though was about the *implementation* details (assuming that the doc makes any reference to such) in Java3D. Anyways, it will be very useful for the developers and the curious if Sun could probably extract a nice article from it with the figures intact.

pepe
Offline
Joined: 2003-06-10

i've actually entered RenderBin, MasterControl, RenderAtom and such dark things that lie down in J3d's keep. What i understood from the source seems to match what is written in the patent. Anyway, iirc, the patent was filled about when j3d got pretty much stalled. :)

Message was edited by: pepe

nvaidya
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Joined: 2004-08-03

Oh Thanks ! for the first-hand info on the source.
I actually wanted to write "..since there has been no major upheaval in Java3D since 2001 .." but then decided to be euphemistic :).