Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 7th Jul 2011 20:41 UTC, submitted by sawboss
3D News, GL, DirectX More patent news? Sorry, but for some reason, there's a spike in patent, trademark, and related news this week - not entirely unsurprising considering it's earnings season. HTC, currently under attack from Apple and a recent signer of Microsoft patent agreement regarding Android, has bought S3 Graphics... For the patents. Patents Apple has already been found infringing upon.
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Comment by flanque
by flanque on Thu 7th Jul 2011 21:00 UTC
flanque
Member since:
2005-12-15

Maybe. I guess it depends on how Apple plays it and the value of the patents. I wouldn't care having two pebbles thrown at me if I can lob back some boulders.

I guess we'll see. It's interesting as an observer...

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by flanque
by JAlexoid on Fri 8th Jul 2011 23:14 UTC in reply to "Comment by flanque"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Both facing mutual destruction? I bet they'll settle.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by flanque
by bassbeast on Sat 9th Jul 2011 00:16 UTC in reply to "Comment by flanque"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

Well I would say since S3 compression is a part of pretty much EVERY video compression schema, and is a part of BOTH DirectX and OpenGL they are pretty darn valuable and I'm shocked they sold for that little. to me the sad part is it just shows Via was hammered even more than AMD by the Intel bribery and compiler scandals. If I was Via i'd be suing for billions!

Finally let us bow our heads in a little silent goodbye for old S3. For many of us old timers the S3 Virge and Trio were a part of our gaming pasts, and now completely fades like Cyrix, WinChip, and the Voodoo before it. I even sold an S3 trio just a couple of months back to a customer that had a Win2K box he used for bookkeeping that had blown the IGP. He was so happy with how well it worked after sitting in a drawer for nearly 8 years he decided to forgo getting another GPU and stick to the S3.

So goodbye S3, there was a time when you were right in the thick of things, back when 2D was king and texture compression was a deal maker because of tiny GPU RAM amounts, but those days are gone now and now so are you. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by flanque
by wanker90210 on Sun 10th Jul 2011 17:09 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by flanque"
wanker90210 Member since:
2007-10-26

If they had managed to do something good with S3 Virge instead of the useless crap it now was, S3 might have taken the lead. Noone wanted the stupid pass-through 3dfx but it was usable and essentially the only choice for us wanting to keep both our kidneys. Nvidia eventually managed to do what S3 failed and thus making TNT2 the king of pre GPU cards.

I had a S3 Virge and this is me dealing with disappointment some 14 years ago. Their earlier 2d cards were super and imho nicer than the earlier Cirrus-cards so I was expecting more or at least something usable. The same goes for Matrox really, why their half ass 3d venture? Didn't they or S3 think 3d would take off?

Reply Score: 1

HTC has just gone way up in my book
by guilhermefdc on Thu 7th Jul 2011 21:06 UTC
guilhermefdc
Member since:
2011-02-17

Not that that means a lot, but I'm just happy with what they've just done =)

Reply Score: 1

Comment by xsnrg
by xsnrg on Thu 7th Jul 2011 21:10 UTC
xsnrg
Member since:
2011-07-07

Software patents, then, are clearly good for innovation.

...or at least for lawyers.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by xsnrg
by f0dder on Thu 7th Jul 2011 21:17 UTC in reply to "Comment by xsnrg"
f0dder Member since:
2009-08-05

...And lawyers ARE damn innovative.

Always thinking of new ways to screw everybody over.

Reply Score: 11

RE[2]: Comment by xsnrg
by fran on Thu 7th Jul 2011 21:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by xsnrg"
fran Member since:
2010-08-06

Extremely innovative.

One in New York invented Bitcoin and are now filing the trademark.

http://rogerwehbe.com/?p=73

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by xsnrg
by testman on Thu 7th Jul 2011 22:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by xsnrg"
testman Member since:
2007-10-15

Everyone hates lawyers and solicitors until they actually need one.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by xsnrg
by smashIt on Thu 7th Jul 2011 22:44 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by xsnrg"
smashIt Member since:
2005-07-06

it's like with the military
no one needs them as long as no one has them
but as soon as one dickhead has one everyone needs one

Reply Score: 14

RE[4]: Comment by xsnrg
by renox on Fri 8th Jul 2011 07:53 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by xsnrg"
renox Member since:
2005-07-06

Well, there is a big difference: there is no rule in wars, whereas lawyers works within the rules of the laws.

So when lawyers screw the society (as they do with patents), it's because the laws allow them to do so..

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Comment by xsnrg
by allanregistos on Fri 8th Jul 2011 08:51 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by xsnrg"
allanregistos Member since:
2011-02-10

Well, there is a big difference: there is no rule in wars, whereas lawyers works within the rules of the laws.

No, no, if there is no law in wars, there would be no war-crime trials.

I think you mean during wartime where the rule of law is often ignored.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by xsnrg
by Lazarus on Fri 8th Jul 2011 08:24 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by xsnrg"
Lazarus Member since:
2005-08-10

Everyone hates lawyers and solicitors until they actually need one.


Nope. I still hate them.

I look at hiring a lawyer like needing to cut off a gangrenous limb. It sucks, but it is better than the alternative.

Reply Score: 9

RE[4]: Comment by xsnrg
by fran on Fri 8th Jul 2011 12:16 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by xsnrg"
fran Member since:
2010-08-06

"Nope. I still hate them.
I look at hiring a lawyer like needing to cut off a gangrenous limb. It sucks, but it is better than the alternative."

Lawyers charge by the pound of flesh so you might have to go ahead with gangrenous limb anyway ;-)

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by xsnrg
by allanregistos on Fri 8th Jul 2011 08:38 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by xsnrg"
allanregistos Member since:
2011-02-10

...And lawyers ARE damn innovative.

Always thinking of new ways to screw everybody over.


A country full of lawyers is really innovative. Forget about hiring engineers and skilled workers.

In fact, a lawyer can provide thirty (30) different statements just to defend a single case. Very innovative indeed.

Reply Score: 2

Elv13 Member since:
2006-06-12

No, those everyone else have licences, but Apple.

Reply Score: 2

S3 patents
by viton on Thu 7th Jul 2011 23:42 UTC
viton
Member since:
2005-08-09

I don't read these patents, but how Apple can infringe something if:
1) GPU core is from Imagination
2) It doesn't support S3TC AFAIK
PVRTC is based on different scheme.

Or these are typical abstract patents about image data compression?

Reply Score: 2

RE: S3 patents
by kaiwai on Fri 8th Jul 2011 02:44 UTC in reply to "S3 patents"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't read these patents, but how Apple can infringe something if:
1) GPU core is from Imagination
2) It doesn't support S3TC AFAIK
PVRTC is based on different scheme.

Or these are typical abstract patents about image data compression?


It would be unrelated to the hardware itself - Imagination pays any royalties to their respective patent holders where as Apple has found to violated a patented algorithm that most likely relates to their OpenGL implementation. I don't have the specific extension but I wouldn't be surprised if there are some hardware specific OpenGL extensions that demand royalties to be paid on (with really now way to 'code around' the problem either) and are a critical part of the OpenGL standard.

Apple needs to realise that once you get involved with the whole patent war things can become dangerous very quickly - they would have been better off chilling out instead of coming out swinging their axe as they always do these days.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: S3 patents
by bnolsen on Sat 9th Jul 2011 17:42 UTC in reply to "RE: S3 patents"
bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

Yup, apple fired the first shots, then MS followed up. Interesting how the targets are the little guys running android which happens to be eating everyone else's market share.

Bad bad bad for consumers this is.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: S3 patents
by kaiwai on Sun 10th Jul 2011 02:42 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: S3 patents"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

The silly part about this whole iOS vs android war is that one could easily compete with android by pointing out the strengths of ones own platform. Take iOS, why doesn't apple talk about the fact that they provide good software support in the form of free updates vs the el cheapo android phones that are pretty much abandoned with in weeks of their initial release? For me it seems that patent loading is the underhanded way of raising the price of android phones because Microsoft and Apple are too lazy when it comes to promoting the strengths of their own respective platforms.

Reply Score: 3

RE: S3 patents
by ba1l on Fri 8th Jul 2011 16:37 UTC in reply to "S3 patents"
ba1l Member since:
2007-09-08

I don't read these patents, but how Apple can infringe something if:
1) GPU core is from Imagination
2) It doesn't support S3TC AFAIK
PVRTC is based on different scheme.


I just read (well, skimmed) the patents in question. They pretty much describe S3TC, in unnecessarily complicated language, and in general terms rather than specifics.

Essentially, the patents cover texture compression by:

* Breaking an image into blocks
* Quantizing the block so it only has four colours (or three colours + transparent)
* Picking two of those colours as reference colours, such that the others can be interpolated using (unspecified) math
* Encoding each pixel as either a literal colour index, an interpolated colour index, or transparent.
* Storing each block with a header, containing the two reference colours
* Decoding by reversing the process

That's essentially S3TC.

The PVRTC I'm more familiar with (used by the Dreamcast, among other things) is a VQ-based thing, which works by breaking the image up into 2x2 blocks, screwing around with the image until only 256 unique blocks remain, putting those blocks in a dictionary, and writing out dictionary indexes instead of pixels. That one is nothing like S3TC.

However, the PVRTC that the iPhone uses doesn't seem to use this format. The dictionary increases the size of the texture data by a predictable amount, but files compressed with the iPhone texturetool don't seem to have a dictionary. So, it's not the same format.

It looks to be something along the same lines as S3TC (or ETC, or FXTC), but I have no idea how it actually works, and it doesn't appear to be documented anywhere. It could well be covered by S3's patents.

Reply Score: 3

v Have to give this a try
by ourcomputerbloke on Fri 8th Jul 2011 00:41 UTC
RE: Have to give this a try
by Alfman on Fri 8th Jul 2011 03:03 UTC in reply to "Have to give this a try"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

ourcomputerbloke,

"'So the billions of developers out there developing trillions of apps ever year are either incredibly brilliant or insanely rich?'

Wow, this exaggerating is easy."

Not really, most software does infringe, it just so happens that most software projects aren't worth suing over.

On the one hand, I'm thankful that software patents are poorly enforced, since it enables many of to develop the best software we can worrying about obscure patent documents written by lawyers.

On the other hand, if software patents were absolutely enforced, it would cause so much backlash, overhead, and abuse that the whole software patent ecosystem would collapse on it's own.

As is, all software exists in a perpetual state of limbo.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Have to give this a try
by crimperman on Fri 8th Jul 2011 08:03 UTC in reply to "RE: Have to give this a try"
crimperman Member since:
2006-11-09

It's worth remembering that software patents are not viable in the EU (and other places as well) where a lot of development takes place. Thus until/unless the software is used in something worth suing in the correct geographical region, software patents are irrelevant.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Have to give this a try
by viton on Fri 8th Jul 2011 16:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Have to give this a try"
viton Member since:
2005-08-09

On the other hand, if software patents were absolutely enforced

Then millions of patents need to be submitted every day, USA government will push insane amount of money to expand staff and the patent office kleks started to killing themselves massively and explode the whole thing =)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Have to give this a try
by Lennie on Sat 9th Jul 2011 14:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Have to give this a try"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

I always thought they are just waiting for something to get somewhat populair before suing. Going to court to fight a little company and putting them out of business doens't give you much.

But waiting for them to get large and then sue them is probably more profitable (might need to happen within some kind of timeframe).

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Have to give this a try
by unclefester on Mon 11th Jul 2011 10:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Have to give this a try"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

Exactly.

Casio waited years before they sued rival watchmakers for using multi-function buttons.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Have to give this a try
by bnolsen on Sat 9th Jul 2011 17:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Have to give this a try"
bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

I can guarantee you a lawyer will find many ways any software developer is infringing on patents. He just needs enough creative language to do it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Have to give this a try
by senshikaze on Fri 8th Jul 2011 11:49 UTC in reply to "Have to give this a try"
senshikaze Member since:
2011-03-08

There are an estimated 3 billion people using computers in the world (give or take half a billion). I seriously doubt that at least one third of computer users are also programmers. Just in my little world including friends, family, and work, I can come up with 1% being programmers. And that is out of some 500 people. I think my ratio is much closer to correct than yours with your "billions of programmers" BS.

Reply Score: 0

The patent dance
by Poseidon on Fri 8th Jul 2011 04:15 UTC
Poseidon
Member since:
2009-10-31

Well, if it was not for the BSD and GPL license, I'm pretty sure OSX and a slew of other software could have not been born, so I guess there's something very wrong with draconian issues of today. I hope the whole system collapses soon.

Reply Score: 5

v RE: The patent dance
by allanregistos on Fri 8th Jul 2011 08:46 UTC in reply to "The patent dance"
RE[2]: The patent dance
by BluenoseJake on Fri 8th Jul 2011 09:23 UTC in reply to "RE: The patent dance"
BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

Apple tried a couple of times to build their own modern OS, google Copland, Taligent, Pink. They failed miserably.

If it wasn't for OSS, and buying Next, they wouldn't have had an OS at all, Unless they had spent the amazingly stupid price Be wanted for BeOS.

Reply Score: 8

RE[3]: The patent dance
by kaiwai on Sat 9th Jul 2011 01:47 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: The patent dance"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

I think the issue at Apple wasn't the lack of talent but the lack of leadership from the top downwards (which is the problem with Microsoft right now - a remote hands off CEO who doesn't have a clue about the products being sold) - if you look at the first decisions Steve Job made when he became CEO they were some painful but rational decisions but too bad so many people here have very short memories.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: The patent dance
by unclefester on Mon 11th Jul 2011 10:08 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: The patent dance"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

In fact BeOS was vastly cheaper option than buying NeXT. BeOS was also far more advanced and ran on both standard Motorola Mac and PC hardware

OSX was basically unusable for several years after it was released.

Edited 2011-07-11 10:09 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: The patent dance
by Johann Chua on Mon 11th Jul 2011 11:23 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: The patent dance"
Johann Chua Member since:
2005-07-22

Wasn't BeOS lacking in internationalization support?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: The patent dance
by BluenoseJake on Mon 11th Jul 2011 12:50 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: The patent dance"
BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

In fact BeOS was vastly cheaper option than buying NeXT. BeOS was also far more advanced and ran on both standard Motorola Mac and PC hardware

OSX was basically unusable for several years after it was released.


BeOS was not cheaper than buying Next, Be wanted 400 million for just the OS. When Apple bought Next, they also got Steve, who by most accounts, is the real reason Apple survived. Cheap at twice the price.

Also, OS X might have been unusable for a couple of releases, but NextStep was far and above BeOS at the time, So far above it that BeOS was couldn't see it. Display postscript, multiprocessor support, and Unixy goodness (and a lot more), all in one package.

BeOS was useless in comparison. I used both, and there was nothing like NextStep on a NextCube, blew anything available then out of the water.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: The patent dance
by r_a_trip on Fri 8th Jul 2011 10:37 UTC in reply to "RE: The patent dance"
r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

Allan, you have too much faith in the Apple of old. Apple tried to write a successor to OS 9. They failed miserably with rhapsody.

It wasn't until they "bought back their founder" through NextStep and rebranding NextStep OS as OS X that they became viable again.

OS X wouldn't have materialized if it weren't for the vast base of (Free)BSD OS code and other FOSS like KDE's KHTML, LLVM, CUPS, etc. Without it, Apple would be left with a PDF based display system and a closed source window manager.

So the original assesment wasn't that far off. It's actually good to see that FOSS is able to function as the foundation to new developments. It's just a pity that most of those new developments are accompanied by the legal equivalent of "My Preciousssssssssss!"

Reply Score: 6

RE[3]: The patent dance
by orestes on Sat 9th Jul 2011 03:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: The patent dance"
orestes Member since:
2005-07-06

Rhapsody didn't fail. Rhapsody was in fact the code name of the OS being developed from NeXT post acquisition that eventually became OS X. A/UX would've likely achieved similar results many years earlier if the UNIX licensing hadn't meant it was stupidly expensive for end users.

Edited 2011-07-09 03:30 UTC

Reply Score: 3

S3 Texture Compression?
by PRaabjerg on Fri 8th Jul 2011 05:40 UTC
PRaabjerg
Member since:
2006-09-23

This may actually turn out to be good news on another front. For the Intel graphics drivers on a number of (most?) Linux distributions, the code for S3TC is not included by default because of patent issues.
If this is the relevant patent, having it come under HTC's control might be a good development for us Intel GMA users ;)

Reply Score: 2

VIA & HTC
by geleto on Fri 8th Jul 2011 07:41 UTC
geleto
Member since:
2005-07-06

It's not a full sale - WTI(the old owner) sill owns 50% of VIA, HTC - the other 50%.
HTC's Chairwoman Cher Wang is a major shareholder in WTI and her husband is VIA's CEO Wen Chi Chen. So practically they are mostly moving money around, allowing both companies to share their patent portfolios.

Reply Score: 6

RE: VIA & HTC
by Lennie on Sat 9th Jul 2011 14:34 UTC in reply to "VIA & HTC"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

See, that is what I call innovation. :-)

Reply Score: 2

Wow.
by blahbl4hblah on Fri 8th Jul 2011 14:08 UTC
blahbl4hblah
Member since:
2011-05-29

There seems to be a lot less invective on this thread versus the thread about MS using patent law to their advantage.

I thought all software patents were the very definition of evil?

Reply Score: 1

RE: Wow.
by Bobthearch on Fri 8th Jul 2011 15:55 UTC in reply to "Wow."
Bobthearch Member since:
2006-01-27

I thought all software patents were the very definition of evil?


No, what's evil is the incessant 'news' coverage of software patents.

Reply Score: 1

Lawyers...
by Drunkula on Fri 8th Jul 2011 14:51 UTC
Drunkula
Member since:
2009-09-03

Slightly OT but I'll post it anyhow. I heard a lawyer joke from a lawyer the other day. His mother told it to him the day he passed the bar exam

Question:
What is black and tan and looks good on lawyers?

Answer:
Rottweilers

Reply Score: 3

LMAO...
by 1c3d0g on Sun 10th Jul 2011 00:45 UTC
1c3d0g
Member since:
2005-07-06

I love it when the tables turn...ESPECIALLY when it comes to Apple. See how it feels now, huh Apple?!? Next time think twice before pursuing litigation so quickly.

Reply Score: 2