Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

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blazespinnaker
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Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

When I mentioned that the OR was really a leep clone, Palmer said:
PalmerTech wrote: I don't know what you mean about the Rift being a "LEEP VR clone" though, the old LEEP headsets are very, very different from the Rift. They were dual panel, triple lens, mechanically tracked, did not correct for distortion, and had large weight balancing mount points.
Fair point. He's made improvements. However, there already exists patents which teach us all these improvements:

(Large weight balancing was a solution to a problem that doesn't exist because of new tech. Can't claim IP as a non existent solution to a non existent problem)

SIngle panel:
http://www.google.ca/patents/US20100277575 (even uses mobile LCDs)

Close focus lens:
http://www.google.ca/patents/US20100277575

Correction for distortion:
http://www.google.ca/patents/US5369450 (and refs)

Head Tracking:
https://www.google.ca/patents/US5742263 (and refs)

Anyways, that was after a very brief search for prior art, and this is hardly my area of expertise.


Let me say, I don't want to take anything away from Palmer. I think he deserves what he's got so far. I think it's terrific someone invested 16M in his company. I am delighted that he is a multi millionaire now (at least on paper). I will be first in line screaming bloody murder if any of the console companies try to run his company over.

However, if he tries (he hasn't yet as far as I can tell) try to patent this obvious IP as a barrier to entry for other companies like his, yeah, I think he will have betrayed the community that gave him life.

Will he apply for those obvious patents? I really don't think he will. He seems like a pretty darned decent guy. And even if he does, I really don't see the patent office accepting them unless OR VR really writes them narrow.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

Here's the final rejection of http://www.google.ca/patents/US20100277575 (Method and apparatus for providing a 3d image via a media device)
12771828.pdf
It has a lot of information which will likely lead to reasons why they will reject an HMD patent of something like the OR (if there was one, which I doubt there will be, cause they don't roll that way).

It was mostly rejected because of this patent: https://www.google.ca/patents/US20060055773 ... another close focus / single panel HMD application that hasn't been granted yet (from 2005).

Here's the non final rejection of that patent (which was then abandoned .. thanks guys for the free IP!)
11070831.pdf
And it was mostly (non final) rejected because of this one:

https://www.google.ca/patents/US5825532 (Microscopic system integrated with wide-screen television)
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by Inscothen »

Hasn't Palmer said that Oculus wanted competition to drive VR forward? I'm sure there are some things they could patent to protect themselves but I doubt they are going to try to patent the basics of VR HMDs especially with so much done before.

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by KBK »

Having done this before..do you see the words 'patent pending' written anywhere on any component of the rift Devkit package?

If not, there is no patent applied for, at least on the currently issued devkit.

And if any devkit or commercial release is issued in the future that has the words patent pending written on it anywhere, they are not bound to disclose what the 'patent pending' marking is for. (rather the opposite, it serves as a warning label)

And it can be up to 3 years before you get to find out what the patent pending marking was for.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

While there is no requirement to say Patent Pending, the fact that they don't say that, indicates that they will not be able to file retroactively for IP violation damages until they do.

However, as soon as they start saying Patent Pending or just Patent (assuming one has been granted), they can file for damages. Given the cost of tooling / building out your assembly line, that has enough of a chilling effect and Patent Pending isn't really practically required.

Still, it's a fair point KBK.

As for 3 years, that's not really the case. You can only say Patent Pending if you file some kind of patent, even if it's just a provisional patent. After that, you only have 1 year to turn it into a published application or your priority date expires. Once it's a published app it will be available for anyone to see.

You do have a 1 year grace period, however before you have to file a patent, even just a provisional one.

My best guess is that Oculus VR recognizes that it'd be silly to start filing for patents until their PhDs start coming up with very original IP.

I am not a lawyer, but I'd bet that anyone would be safe (at least from Oculus) to build and sell their on versions of a leep clone with head tracking, correction for distortion, and close focus lens.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by geekmaster »

@blazespinnaker: I *love* that BabyRift and BabyODT combo you got going on there in your avatar image. Where can I get some for my grandkids?

Image

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by geekmaster »

blazespinnaker wrote:...
SIngle panel:
http://www.google.ca/patents/US20100277575 (even uses mobile LCDs)

Close focus lens:
http://www.google.ca/patents/US20100277575
...
Same URL for both links. Second link needs new URL. I often have that copy/paste problem myself...

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

geekmaster wrote:
blazespinnaker wrote:...
SIngle panel:
http://www.google.ca/patents/US20100277575 (even uses mobile LCDs)

Close focus lens:
http://www.google.ca/patents/US20100277575
...
Same URL for both links. Second link needs new URL. I often have that copy/paste problem myself...
They're correct. They both happen to have the same relevant IP. Follow the link and search on close focus lens. And the look at the final rejection notice.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by geekmaster »

Why do they even allow patents like that? These are just variations on the old Holmes Stereoscope from the 1800's. Using a video display instead of photos on a card is just an obvious upgrade to modern technology.

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

Which one? Two of the applications were rejected (but now fully count as prior art).
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by zacherynuk »

Has Oculus even made any hints towards applying for patents ?

Historically MTBS3D members have made great use of prior patents to understand the technologies involved. PT stated from the outset that the Rift was to be 'open source' and most of us took that to mean hardware too. I for one want the term "Rift Compatible" to be widely used expression.

Finance wise I would understand that backers may want some IP - but I can't see it happening myself. I once funded the construction a launderette in a poor part of a city (great cash cow) I didn't want or expect any IP for that - even though we did innovate slightly. (Building to house the facilities of washing ones clothes with the ability to pay via card and a person onsite to do your ironing)

Also It would appear to me that the world, even including US judges are sick and tired of technology patents wars. Common sense may be taking hold at last.

If they do have an innovation, a true innovation perhaps in spacial tracking, then naturally I would expect them to apply for the relevant patents.


Oculus are simply selling nice cakes in a world full of cakes. I hope they get a nice licencing deal from a major cake distributor. I do not want them to patent a new cake design. I want them to encourage people to eat cake.

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by MSat »

In many ways the overall package of the Rift makes it a quite unique HMD. I wouldn't be surprised if future large FoV HMDs have more in common with the Rift than the Rift has with any previous devices. I really don't see Oculus trying to stifle innovation, but I don't think other start-ups jumping on the bandwagon creating "me too" Rift clones trying to undercut them by taking advantage of Oculus' investment in R&D would be good for anyone. That's like a parasite that kills its host. Gamers and Oculus alike want to bring affordable VR to the market. The only thing of value any other company can offer is an innovative product, not a rip-off. That's why I see nothing wrong with Oculus filing for patents.

If Palmer didn't do what he did (decide to turn Oculus into a legitimate business venture) then I suspect it would have been many more years before VR gained any sort of traction. He worked hard to re-establish a dead market, and I'm glad it was him.

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by KBK »

IIRC, from direct experience..if you do it right, you can get your application to the patent office to be hidden for much longer than one year. 1 year +18 months, IIRC. 2.5 years before anyone sees a single diagram or word.

In the meantime, the gnarling teeth of the 'patent pending' words on the item in question.... keeps the 'bad guys' away. They don't know WHAT the patent pending applies to, for 2.5 years.

Gotta love it.

Another trick, IIRC (this comes from memory, conversations with my patent lawyer, who has much experience in the extreme deep end of the high technology patent wars), is to keep adding or changing the application. That can only go on for so long. But, if you want protection from anyone even managing to figure out anything at all, then this is the road to take.

A case of: "Here is a black and blank wall, and you can just eat your confusion". for three years.

then it finally goes to assessment by the given experts. The actual granting/rejection process. Which means additional radio silence. More time.

This isn't about more time in the public eye, with patent in hand. This is about blanket protection and blocking, with an extended period of being out of the public eye. The outcome ---may not even matter.

Technology marches so fast now, that this is almost preferable, depending on the given situation.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

zacherynuk wrote:Has Oculus even made any hints towards applying for patents ?

Historically MTBS3D members have made great use of prior patents to understand the technologies involved. PT stated from the outset that the Rift was to be 'open source' and most of us took that to mean hardware too. I for one want the term "Rift Compatible" to be widely used expression.

Finance wise I would understand that backers may want some IP - but I can't see it happening myself. I once funded the construction a launderette in a poor part of a city (great cash cow) I didn't want or expect any IP for that - even though we did innovate slightly. (Building to house the facilities of washing ones clothes with the ability to pay via card and a person onsite to do your ironing)

Also It would appear to me that the world, even including US judges are sick and tired of technology patents wars. Common sense may be taking hold at last.

If they do have an innovation, a true innovation perhaps in spacial tracking, then naturally I would expect them to apply for the relevant patents.


Oculus are simply selling nice cakes in a world full of cakes. I hope they get a nice licencing deal from a major cake distributor. I do not want them to patent a new cake design. I want them to encourage people to eat cake.
+1

Oculus VR doesn't have some magical get out of jail free card when it comes to competition that nobody else has. I don't think anyone should undercut the Rift, but if someone were to sell a low latency / high FOV / high res / positional tracking wireless HMD for the same price, I'd say - all the more power to them.

And if Oculus VR does write patents on all this obvious stuff, all I can say is that I really hope Microsoft or Sony obliterates them.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by KBK »

blazespinnaker wrote: +1

Oculus VR doesn't have some magical get out of jail free card when it comes to competition that nobody else has. I don't think anyone should undercut the Rift, but if someone were to sell a low latency / high FOV / high res / positional tracking wireless HMD for the same price, I'd say - all the more power to them.

And if Oculus VR does write patents on all this obvious stuff, all I can say is that I really hope Microsoft or Sony obliterates them.
Your projected desires and thoughts don't reflect the reality of the world that Oculus must deal with, in order to fight their way to any form of fruition in today's market.

I'm asking, You want Sony and Microsoft to obliterate them, if Oculus does what Sony and Microsoft does, and all the rest do.. so that Oculus can survive and prosper among that nightmarish den of cutthroats - the ones with the not so bad public faces but a private army of killers (Lawyers, executives, etc) that seek out ways to destroy all competition?

when you have an innovative new product, that looks like it is going to strongly establish itself and take market share from exsting entities, those existing entities will necessarily see the new product as a direct death threat.

And they will deal with it in any way that works. There is NO integrity here, this is about money and food on the table. market share.

I've personally been subject to highly illegal and underhanded tactics on multiple occasions, for that very reason. the given companies involved will stop at nothing in order to hold their market share. and it is those violent and underhanded moves which are what allows them to survive. In a fair and rule laden world they would loose share.

Sorry to tell you that the evolution of the modern marketplace is one with a nice public face but not when it comes to keeping market-share, or control. Then, the knives come out in the dark places, where the public eye never sees.

Your stance is good and nice. Honorable, even. But fair does not exist in this particular kind of battlefield, it only exists where the public can lay eyes on it and think it is a nice world. The public must never see the ugly, or the ugly will not be allowed to exist, that is the game.

In reality, if you, as a decent and good thinking individual, if you join this game and you stick your honorable head above the parapet wall, all full of integrity and good intentions, and acting in good faith on all fronts... yours would be the first head to explode from the sniper shots.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by FR3D »

blazespinnaker wrote:When I mentioned that the OR was really a leep clone, Palmer said:
PalmerTech wrote: I don't know what you mean about the Rift being a "LEEP VR clone" though, the old LEEP headsets are very, very different from the Rift. They were dual panel, triple lens, mechanically tracked, did not correct for distortion, and had large weight balancing mount points.
Fair point. He's made improvements. However, there already exists patents which teach us all these improvements:

(Large weight balancing was a solution to a problem that doesn't exist because of new tech. Can't claim IP as a non existent solution to a non existent problem)

SIngle panel:
http://www.google.ca/patents/US20100277575 (even uses mobile LCDs)

Close focus lens:
http://www.google.ca/patents/US20100277575

Correction for distortion:
http://www.google.ca/patents/US5369450 (and refs)

Head Tracking:
https://www.google.ca/patents/US5742263 (and refs)

Anyways, that was after a very brief search for prior art, and this is hardly my area of expertise.


Let me say, I don't want to take anything away from Palmer. I think he deserves what he's got so far. I think it's terrific someone invested 16M in his company. I am delighted that he is a multi millionaire now (at least on paper). I will be first in line screaming bloody murder if any of the console companies try to run his company over.

However, if he tries (he hasn't yet as far as I can tell) try to patent this obvious IP as a barrier to entry for other companies like his, yeah, I think he will have betrayed the community that gave him life.

Will he apply for those obvious patents? I really don't think he will. He seems like a pretty darned decent guy. And even if he does, I really don't see the patent office accepting them unless OR VR really writes them narrow.
:x shut up man !!! :x

i want to receive my consumer rift as soon as possible !
If there will be some patent trouble nobody knows what will happen then.
so be quiet now and don't wake up sleeping dogs !!!

best regards FR3D
best regards FR3D

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by KBK »

FR3D wrote: :x shut up man !!! :x

i want to receive my consumer rift as soon as possible !
If there will be some patent trouble nobody knows what will happen then.
so be quiet now and don't wake up sleeping dogs !!!

best regards FR3D

+1
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

FR3D wrote: shut up man !!!

i want to receive my consumer rift as soon as possible !
If there will be some patent trouble nobody knows what will happen then.
so be quiet now and don't wake up sleeping dogs !!!

best regards FR3D
You're confused. My point is that the Rift is just the LEEP + head tracking, patents on such things have expired. Indeed, if the suppression of technology due to patents is a concern, you should be cheering me on - because that's exactly what I don't want to happen.

Anyways, nobody is going to be launching expensive patents suits based on forum postings. Such people, if interested in such things, are very aware of the Rift and whether or not it's worthwhile to pursue.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by quietboy »

You're confused. My point is that the Rift is just the LEEP + head tracking,
i think you have said rift is a LEEP clone. with that '+" sign does not seem a clone to me. and palmer has said that LEEP use three lens, thats different from the rift.


if i not mistaken apple take some ambient light source and combine it with hmd, and they patent it. i think this is the same to what palmer did. combining existing tech and patent it.

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

quietboy wrote: if i not mistaken apple take some ambient light source and combine it with hmd
Yes, if no one else has created a HMD with ambient light source as a dependent patent claim you can do that.

Unfortunately, the rift is the intersection of a lot of other HMDs (most notably the LEEP). There is no feature on the Rift which hasn't been done on some other HMD.

These prior art patents have taught us single lenses, correction for distortion, single LCD pane, head tracking, etc etc.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by quietboy »

blazespinnaker wrote:
quietboy wrote: if i not mistaken apple take some ambient light source and combine it with hmd
Yes, if no one else has created a HMD with ambient light source as a dependent patent claim you can do that.

Unfortunately, the rift is the intersection of a lot of other HMDs (most notably the LEEP). There is no feature on the Rift which hasn't been done on some other HMD.

These prior art patents have taught us single lenses, correction for distortion, single LCD pane, head tracking, etc etc.

these prior patents made by different companies, right?. companies that cannot combine these knowledge to produce a good and cheap HMD. so i think palmer has been fully transparant about this. that he examine various HMD, and produce better one. for me it worth to be patent

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

quietboy wrote:that he examine various HMD, and produce better one. for me it worth to be patent
Fortunately, that's not how patents work. You have to come up with new, original ideas that haven't been thought of before to be granted a patent.

If you didn't need original ideas, then anyone could just go through the patents, clobber together the best ideas, and then write a patent and say nobody else can make this.

No R&D required.

One particular hint about Palmer's approach to R&D:

Palmer Luckey - Founder

Palmer is the original founder and designer of the Oculus Rift. Before starting Oculus VR™, Palmer worked as an engineer at USC's Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) in the Mixed Reality lab, where he contributed to research and development of virtual reality systems and head-mounted displays. Palmer is also known for having the world's largest collection of VR headsets and founding the ModRetro Forums.

www.oculusvr.com/company/people/

What he likely did was synthesize the best ideas from his large collection of HMDs. It resulted in an awesome package and an awesome company. But no patents should come of this.

OculusVR should live and die on what they do with the good-will they've generated from building the HMD, not from the HMD itself.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by quietboy »

But no patents should come of this
ok you have made your point and its clear. but i think the forum cannot do anything if palmer pursue a patent and the patent office give him that. and i think as i said before pursuing patent just a good practice of entrepreneurship. :)

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by MSat »

Blaze, you're still claiming the Rift is a LEEP clone despite having been corrected multiple times? Sheesh. You really are stubborn in your ignorance.

Why exactly do you care if Oculus is granted some patents related to some aspects of the Rift? If you're worried about lack of competition, just wait until eBay gets saturated with cheap Chinese knock-offs. That should make you happy.

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

MSat, I am trying to avoid replying to posts so laden with personal attacks these days. Only so many hours in the day.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

quietboy wrote:
But no patents should come of this
ok you have made your point and its clear. but i think the forum cannot do anything if palmer pursue a patent and the patent office give him that. and i think as i said before pursuing patent just a good practice of entrepreneurship. :)
Actually, third parties can now submit prior art to patent applications. Success rate is bit lame in getting patents invalidated though, only about 25%.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by MSat »

blazespinnaker wrote:MSat, I am trying to avoid replying to posts so laden with personal attacks these days. Only so many hours in the day.
It was more of an observation than an attack. It's tends to be taken as an insult when someone stubbornly refuses to accept that they're wrong after have being politely corrected. At any rate, you responded but with no insight to the points that were brought up. It's starting to seem like you're just trolling.

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

MSat, if you'd like to discuss the subject of patents and prior art of the Oculus Rift, preferably with interesting citations and links, I'd be happy to engage.

Otherwise .. enjoy the last word on whatever you wish to say.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by MrGreen »

Nice cop out.

Palmer proved your point wrong multiple times already. The only thing you're accomplishing here is annoying everybody. Let it go for crying out loud.

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

MrGreen wrote:Nice cop out.

Palmer proved your point wrong multiple times already. The only thing you're accomplishing here is annoying everybody. Let it go for crying out loud.
Why the **** are you poking me if you want me to let it go? I didn't reply to Msat because I was letting it go. Yeesh.

The fact is, nobody proved anything. I did agree that clone was a bit harsh, but the fact is nothing has changed since the LEEP except we have better underlying tech (LCD / IMU / CPU / etc)

Christ, Palmer / Iribe / etc everyone has said this many times in many different places.

Did you watch the Kickstarter video?
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by nateight »

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Since when have inventions comprised of previously patented components been unpatentable? In my recent dealings with the USPTO, I came away with several axioms, perhaps the primary being this: We live in the "Boombox Era" of patent law, an era in which radio receivers and CD players and speakers and buttons and dials are all individually unpatentable, but in which new combinations of these elements may still be useful and worthy of patent protection. Recent Supreme Court rulings require that patentable inventions be "novel", "useful", and "non-obvious to 'a person having ordinary skill in the art'". "Novel" and "useful" are simple enough to understand - the patent claim cannot conflict with prior patents (though recall that a claim need not cover component parts of an invention if it is being made on the novel arrangement of them), would be invalidated by sufficient prior art (note: a few descriptive lines on an Internet forum may not qualify here), and must perform a worthwhile function - but what does "non-obvious" mean? My conclusion after submitting a provisional patent application I authored: Whatever the hell the acting patent examiner wishes it to mean. The goal is ostensibly to weed out patent applications that are as trivial and offensive as the glut of "on or with a computer" software patents of the previous decade, but in practice, virtually all inventions are combinational in nature, and virtually all combinational patent claims can either meet or fail the obviousness test, the outcome seemingly hinging primarily on the patent examiner's disposition and mood. Combining two established technologies together in such a way that they both do their expected task and a new and novel result is synthesized through this pairing seems as reasonably patent-worthy as any invention that draws upon elemental technologies. In retrospect, such a pairing would be entirely understandable to an engineer familiar with those separate devices, but would that pairing be "obvious"? A large majority of the inventions we use daily and that shape our lives are quite "obvious" even to us lay-persons once the underlying innovations are explained to us (as in a patent application), but would we have been able to invent these devices (or even conceive of them) with no prompting? The "obviousness" provision is therefore the primary hangup in nearly all patent application processes today, and those inventions that do eventually win protection are less often those that truly are "non-obvious" and more often those created by entities that have the tenacity and deep pockets necessary to fight the USPTO's initial rejection(s).

Now combine this hazy and discomfiting state of affairs with the USPTO's very recent shift to a "first to file" system. Today, if a lone inventor were to disclose his new invention to someone, and that unscrupulous person raced to the patent office and filed the idea as his own, the actual inventor would be blocked from producing his own invention, detailed documentation of the conception and development of it be damned! This may never happen in practice, but the prevailing opinion around here that by sharing our ideas they are somehow afforded protection is faulty, and further complicated by the Internet itself being a shaky platform on which to construct a prior art claim.

It would seem the only reasonable course of action is for inventors of any stripe to file thorough and professionally overseen provisional patent applications (I spent less than $500 in attorney and filing fees, half of which went toward a patent search). These are not reviewed for patentability by the USPTO, but effectively save the date of filing against a future utility patent application, affording the applicant a one-year period of protection under which to seek additional funding and support without the need for public disclosure of the invention; this is the source of the "patent pending" designation. Information can then be shared with parties who would otherwise shy away from signing an NDA, and with sufficient capital, the inventor can undertake a "real" patent application (planning for his initial application to be rejected on grounds of "obviousness" and only accepted after much back-and-forth with the USPTO (and many thousands of dollars in attorney's fees)). Even the "bad" outcome of this endeavor - the final and definitive rejection of the patent by the USPTO - would be advantageous to an inventor who had used his year of provisional protection well, for unpatentability does not mean that no one can profit by the idea, but rather that everyone can, and the inventor would be in a unique position to capture the market for his new device.

Is Palmer's patenting of the Rift somehow unscrupulous, then? Preposterous, I say - it is his invention. He would be claiming the novel combination of previously known elements, and would have no claim against other inventors who used the same elements in ways that were novel to their own implementations. Further, there is no such entity as "The Patent Police" - patents exist as legal documents within the confines of legal proceedings only, and if a patent holder wishes to allow some violation of his patent, that is entirely his right. Patents are only as evil as their holders - Palmer could patent the Rift's gestalt form, continue to encourage the DIY Rift movement as a positive generator of buzz, goodwill, and a sense of community, and only pursue legal action against some company seeking to make a profit by exactly imitating the Rift's design. Is this not what patents are for?

Patents are far from perfect (the Chinese issue alone looms very large over any such discussions), and a compelling case can perhaps be made that patents are doing more harm to our society than good. However, to refuse to embrace this imperfect system we are bound to is to invite the kind of imitation and misappropriation that patents are supposed to protect us from. Palmer makes no claims to have invented key components of the Rift, but (in my view, at least) he has every right to claim his unique combination of them. To say otherwise is to say the entire patent system is fundamentally flawed and should be totally dismantled; I might tend to agree at that point, but that's not the debate we seem to be having here.

KBK wrote:nightmarish den of cutthroats
Spot on, KBK. The business world has little use for idealism, but benefits greatly from maintaining appearances that nurture a kind of idealistic naivety. If we're speculating about Sony and Microsoft here, consider this outcome: The Xbone and the PS4 stubbornly refuse to embrace VR even as the consumer Rift is greeted as a revitalization of gaming. The Rift is seen as a competing product, and rather than challenge Oculus by creating alternative HMDs, Sony and/or Microsoft double down on their refusal to explore consumer VR. They drag Oculus to court; Oculus having been so virtuous as to eschew all patent protection, they are left utterly helpless when pitted against the massive patent portfolios of their rivals. Some tenuous connection is made, palms are greased in courthouse alleys, and a decision is made that renders the Rift unsaleable in the American market. Oculus goes down in flames, third-party software projects are abandoned, and the electronics conglomerate behind this turn of events dusts its hands and continues to consider VR a "failed" technology, one they have no interest in devoting their resources toward.

This outcome is preferable to the one where Oculus at least has some ammunition to bring to the inevitable fight?


TL;DR: The Rift may not even be patentable, but Oculus would be foolish to do anything other than doggedly pursue whatever patents it can convince the USPTO to grant. This is only somehow "evil" if they start to use these patents to harass and discourage the inventors of the Rift's component pieces or the creators of largely dissimilar HMDs that share some key feature of the Rift. Oculus being without defensible patents could potentially do more harm to the mainstream adoption of VR than using such patents in an offensive and trollish manner might. Have a little faith?
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

Since when have inventions comprised of previously patented components been unpatentable?
If the patents have common goals (such as displaying stereoscopic images), the patent examiner will combine them and use that as prior art to invalide your claims.

They will say things like claim # is rejected as being unpatentable over patent A in view of patent B.

Refer to the rejections I attached above for examples of this.

For the PHOSITA (person having ordinary skill in the art), they would generally be advised to examine all the HMD patents and their claims before applying for their own.
Last edited by blazespinnaker on Sun Jul 14, 2013 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

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Great post, nateight.

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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

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blazespinnaker wrote:If the patents have common goals (such as displaying stereoscopic images), the patent examiner will combine them and use that as prior art to invalide your claims.
Perhaps this is how the system is supposed to work. In practice, my patent attorney told me something like 90% of all applications are now being rejected on 35 USC § 103 grounds, and the only reason any patents get granted anymore is because these initial rejections are disputed by inventors with the resources to carry on such a legal campaign. The long list of outrageous patent claims that have met with USPTO approval goes against the assertion that the patent system is rational and consistent. It isn't, and if you refuse to play this rigged game to preserve some kind of moral integrity, the game will almost certainly play you.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

nateight wrote:Perhaps this is how the system is supposed to work. In practice, my patent attorney told me something like 90% of all applications are now being rejected on 35 USC § 103 grounds
Yes, 35 USC § 103 grounds is what I was referring to... again refer to the rejections I attached above.

Generally, the best way to get past that is just come up with a new idea that hasn't been done before.

This is hard to do with VR HMDs because of the flurry of patents that were all made (before their time) in the 90s. All that prior art..

It's much easier to do in a field that has new technology and nobody ever thought about doing before.
Last edited by blazespinnaker on Sun Jul 14, 2013 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

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blazespinnaker wrote:Yes, 35 USC § 103 grounds is what I was referring to...

Generally, the best way to get past that is just come up with a new idea that hasn't been done before.
Oh, is that all? :lol:
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by blazespinnaker »

nateight wrote:
blazespinnaker wrote:Yes, 35 USC § 103 grounds is what I was referring to...

Generally, the best way to get past that is just come up with a new idea that hasn't been done before.
Oh, is that all? :lol:
It's not that hard, I think. Jan came up with an interesting innovation on his Omni with plunge pins and grooves in the ODT.

The problem is that it's risky. Nobody has done anything like that before, so who knows if it's a good idea.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

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blazespinnaker wrote:Jan came up with an interesting innovation on his Omni with plunge pins and grooves in the ODT.
I get the sense the only reason that was done was to have one novel and non-obvious claim to pin the larger patent on. I haven't had the pleasure of a test yet, but I suspect the Omni is a weaker product because it had to introduce the cleat and groove system; a smooth surface with no special shoes makes considerably more sense to me, but such a design would have been far more likely to be deemed unpatentable because of conflicting prior art. This apparently happens all the time - because the expectation is a 35 USC § 103 rejection, you are actually much more likely to receive a patent if you insert some element that makes no engineering sense and results in a less perfect product. This may indeed be "easier" - the Rift could perhaps integrate blinky lights and a small speaker that emulates the sound of a tuberculotic wombat every 15 minutes, and claim a "System And Apparatus For Reinforcing Physical Personhood Through Regular Interruption Of Virtual Immersion". This would almost certainly result in a successful patent application simply because no one has thought to do such a thing before, and because it was integrated with the Rift, some degree of patent protection would be afforded Oculus if they ever got taken to court. :)

One thing I think we both agree on is that the current patent system is insane. The granting of patents and their usage in lawsuits is almost entirely arbitrary, and the only entities who see a net benefit from this state of affairs are the largest conglomerates and patent trolls. I would like to see the entire system demolished and replaced with something more sensible, or even nothing at all. I would also like to see the community assist Oculus in locating prior art and crafting a series of patent applications that would strengthen their ability to dominate the consumer HMD market; yes, "dominate" - the fragmented and "open" HMD ecosystem you seem to be pushing for would be devoid of leaders, and therefore lacking standards, and therefore thin on compelling software, and therefore not much of a VR renaissance at all. The reason this thread has turned into an argument is because you seem to believe that any move by Oculus to prepare for a fight with various consumer electronics titans constitutes a "betrayal". If these inventors of components of the Rift feel so very slighted by Oculus potentially patenting something that incorporates one of their innovations, where is their outcry? If Oculus fails to pursue a patent strategy and some unfortunate sequence of litigation thereby results in mainstream VR adoption failing again, doesn't that constitute an even greater "betrayal", of their founding principles and our shared dream of widespread VR?
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

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nateight wrote:
blazespinnaker wrote:Jan came up with an interesting innovation on his Omni with plunge pins and grooves in the ODT.
I get the sense the only reason that was done was to have one novel and non-obvious claim to pin the larger patent on. I haven't had the pleasure of a test yet, but I suspect the Omni is a weaker product because it had to introduce the cleat and groove system; a smooth surface with no special shoes makes considerably more sense to me, but such a design would have been far more likely to be deemed unpatentable because of conflicting prior art.
I actually had exactly the same thought until I made my own dish treadmill ODT and your feet do feel like they're going to do a lot of unpleasant immersion breaking uncontrollable lateral sliding. I came to the conclusion that I prefer jogging/walking in place to a dish treadmill. It'll be interesting to see how well his idea works in practice.

And, whatever we say, it was an idea. At least he stuck his neck out there and tried something and advanced the state of the art.
This apparently happens all the time - because the expectation is a 35 USC § 103 rejection, you are actually much more likely to receive a patent if you insert some element that makes no engineering sense and results in a less perfect product. This may indeed be "easier" - the Rift could perhaps integrate blinky lights and a small speaker that emulates the sound of a tuberculotic wombat every 15 minutes, and claim a "System And Apparatus For Reinforcing Physical Personhood Through Regular Interruption Of Virtual Immersion".
They could, it might tricky to convince people that's why their product is superior to their competitors though. The groove / plunge pin approach may not actually work very well in practice(I really don't know), but at least it's a potential selling point to the consumer - even if they have to be naive.
One thing I think we both agree on is that the current patent system is insane.
Yes, there is definitely some problems that is without question.
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Re: Patent prior art for Oculus Rift

Post by yautjacetanu »

blazespinnaker wrote:
You're confused. My point is that the Rift is just the LEEP + head tracking, patents on such things have expired. Indeed, if the suppression of technology due to patents is a concern, you should be cheering me on - because that's exactly what I don't want to happen.

Anyways, nobody is going to be launching expensive patents suits based on forum postings. Such people, if interested in such things, are very aware of the Rift and whether or not it's worthwhile to pursue.
I don't think that's why you aim to get patents. Patents aren't there to protect the invention that is patented. Patents are there so that you can attack the person that is attacking you.

The reason why Oculus would benefit from a patent is that if Microsoft/Sony tried to compete with Oculus, and then tried to use their patents on Oculus, Oculus would have something to fight back with. All your stuff about how people should be cheering you on, are about how the patent system OUGHT to work. You keep giving examples of court case rulings and stuff to do with the purpose of why patents were set up. But that is not the world we live in at the moment. Patents are simply weapons where your aim is to get them as broad as possible and use them as much as possible to wipe out the competition.

Palmer himself has said that he doesn't like the patent system and so he'd probably agree with you in theory that the world would be a better place if things operated the way you think they operate.

But the world doesn't and if Oculus were unable to get any intellectual property that wouldn't mean the world has reformed the patent system. It would just mean the underdog isn't allowed any weapons that the big guys have. Even Google have suffered from this. Most of time, people do damage using their patents without ever actually getting to the courts anyway so what the law says about patents is not that relevant.

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