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Re: Patent 6754400
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Re: Patent 6754400


You're going to have to contact a patent lawyer for specific legal advice.  None of us here are probably qualified to provide such, and certainly not on a public forum.

Reading my own response a year ago to your similar question (which you kindly copied here again) reminds me of how much I've already forgotten about the apparent soap opera history of patents and disputes in the VR imaging arena.  The bottom line is that nobody's apparently made much money from any of these patents, nor has the VR imaging community seem to have benefitted much from all these patent claims.  A number of the individuals and companies holding these patents have gone out of business.  Others seem to have done little, if anything, with their intellectual property. Even while you were the QuickTime manager at Apple, Apple was filing its own spherical/cubic panorama imaging patents (so you may already know a lot more than the rest of us about all this), yet this is technology that Apple hardly even supports any more.

The good news (I guess) is that some of the early patents in this area have reached, or are reaching shortly, their expiration dates.  Prior to 1995, most U.S. patents were for 17 years.  In 1995, this was changed to 20 years.  So a VR patent filed in 1994 would be expiring in 2011 -- or next year.

And as far as determining the validity of a questionable patent (such as some of those described in this forum in previous discussions), that unfortunately has to take place in a court of law (as the result of a lawsuit) once the patent has been granted by the USPTO.  So if you want to challenge whether a patent applies to technology you might be using (or considering), you should probably have the resources committed to pursue it in a court of law.

But again, I am neither an attorney nor an expert in this area, so my comments are likely invalid and are in no way to be considered legal advice.



Scott Highton
Author, Virtual Reality Photography

-----Original Message----- 
From: David Palermo 
Sent: Aug 23, 2010 8:55 PM 
To: email@hidden 
Cc: email@hidden, email@hidden 
Subject: Re: Patent 6754400 

Great summary Scott!

I have a question about the actual patent.  Before I read all 20 or so pages of this patent I was hoping one of you would know what exactly we as photographers/VR developers can do and not infringe on this patent.

My understanding is the patent describes capturing 2 images using a circular fisheye lens.   If we capture more than 2 then we are not infringing on the patent.

Is that correct?



On Aug 10, 2009, at 12:08 PM, Scott Highton wrote:

As I recall, it was and is a bit more complicated.

While IPIX was still in business, Ford Oxaal, sued them for  
infringement of patents he had been granted by the USPO for certain  
spherical imaging capture and playback technologies.  Oxaal claimed he  
had met with IPIX (then either TeleRobotics International or  
Omniview), and that they incorporated his patented technologies into  
what became the foundation of several of their own patents later on.   
IPIX countersued Oxaal claiming HE violated their patents.

Ultimately, IPIX agreed to settle all Oxaal patent conflicts by  
licensing Ford's patents for what one IPIX officer later privately  
called an "insignificant amount," because it was far cheaper than  
paying for litigation.  This  settlement gave IPIX the freedom to use  
technologies Oxaal had claimed were his, and gave Oxaal bragging  
rights to say that IPIX had licensed HIS technology and putting him in  
the position of being able to pursue others who might  also be  
violating his claimed patents.  (Had he gone to trial against IPIX and  
lost, his patent claims would have been worth very little.  Likewise,  
had IPIX lost at trial to Oxaal, they could have been over the barrel  
in licensing fees and patent damages.)

Ultimately, the IPIX Corporation flamed out after squandering numerous  
millions of investor dollars, and went bankrupt.  The company's assets  
were sold at auction.  Japan's Sony Corp. was the high bidder for  
IPIX's entire intellectual property and patent portfolio in a  
December, 2006 auction.  The sale price was just over $3 million.   
Sony outbid both Ford Oxaal and former IPIX CEO Jim Phillips for these  
assets.  The bankruptcy court had to assure that the patents were all  
intact, so an arrangement was reportedly made where the Oxaal IPIX  
license was extended to Sony, while Oxaal remained free to license his  
patents to third parties independently of Sony, as well.

About three months later, in March, 2007, the IPIX Corp.'s remaining  
physical assets (furniture, equipment, name, trademarks, web domain,  
etc.) were sold as a single lot at bankruptcy auction, as well.  Ford  
Oxaal won these assets with a $450,000 bid.  He had reportedly  
solicited investors for this effort via CraigsList.

Oxaal shortly took control of the automated web site and  
domain, which sells annual licenses for use of the various IPIX  
software.  Users on other forums have reported that technical support  
became almost non-existent, and that it is difficult, if not  
impossible, to receive physical property such as optics or IPX kits  
that are ordered from the site.  It appears to many that Oxaal has  
simply been mining the annual software licensing revenues generated  
from the automated online software renewals.

I am unaware of any uses or products that have resulted from the Sony  
Corp.'s purchase of the IPIX IP or patent portfolio so far.  Ford  
Oxaal continues to market his patent technologies through his company  
Minds-Eye-View, Inc. , publisher of Picto-Stitch˙ Pro and PictoPrint˙  
software, in addition to his revenues.

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