W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org > October 2001

Is Apple's patent valid?

From: Jason Antony <s1118355@student.gu.edu.au>
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 20:44:33 +1000
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-ID: <3BBCCA30.16777.285AA23@localhost>

One of the obstacles preventing a royalty-free SVG [Scalable Vector 
Graphics] recommendation is a patent that Apple holds. This was uncovered 
by Daniel Phillips, who said:

> http://www.delphion.com/details?&pn=US05379129__
>   US5379129: Method for compositing a source and destination image using a
>   mask image Jan. 3, 1995

<snip />

> This method can be described in boolean 
> expression according to the formula:
>    result=((1-mask)*source)+(mask*destination).
>   So this is an example of the worst kind of patent: a patent on a
>   mathematical expression.  Furthermore, a particularly obvious one that many, including
> myself, have been using for years prior to the date of Apple's patent.

Lee Barstow provided this insight:

> Oh, my.  They claim they've patented the bitmask?!?!?!?!?! Bitmasks were
> being used back in the early 1980's in commercial games. This patent wasn't
> requested until 1992.  APPLE THEMSELVES WERE USING THIS IN 1984!

More reinforcement from Jeremy Sanders:

> Apple's patents is one of the worst I have seen. It is a patent for a
> completely trivial mathematical operation. How many computer game authors 
> in the 1980s would have used this operation? Masked bitmaps are not 
> exactly novel.

From all this, we can conclude that patent #US5379129 is prior art.

Now, how does one go about invalidating this annoyance?

Jason Antony
Received on Thursday, 4 October 2001 06:44:58 UTC

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