panorama software,virtual tour software
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IP*X, legal issues, patents, etc

I have seen folks inquire here several times regarding IP*X suing people over patent issues. As you may or may not know, Ford Oxal, who claims to be the true inventor of the techniques, recently kicked a little IP*X butt in a lawsuit and they now license the technology from him. Some folks in the Quicktime VR forum recently met with him and reported back to the forum. The following is copied from their post:

Message: 10
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2003 10:15:49 -0500
To: <>
From: Michael Quan <>
Subject: Meeting with Ford Oxaal
Cc: Michael Quan <>

Last week Jim Galvin, Jook Leung and myself traveled to meet Ford Oxaal in
Albany, NY. The purpose of our meeting was to better understand Oxaal's
intentions regarding the VR community now that he has settled with iPIX
over use of his intellectual property (IP). After a long legal battle, it
is now IPIX who is licensed by Oxaal, and on a non-exclusive basis.
IPIX paid a cash settlement to Oxaal.

As you know, intellectual property in the form of patents can be
frighteningly complex and murky. Oxaal holds nine issued patents and
several pending applications, including U.S. Patent 5,903,782, "Method and
Apparatus for producing a three-hundred and sixty degree spherical visual
data set," as well as 5,684,937; 5,936,630; 6,118,454; 6,157,385;
6,243,099; 6,252,603; 6,271,853; and 6,323,862.

Even upon multiple re-readings of this patent and his other patents, the
average reader will have difficulty deciphering exactly what the patents
cover. All his patents are U.S. patents. Their claims are subject to
interpretation, and possibly -- litigation.

Oxaal claims he invented, among other things, the concept of
"capturing, storing, and processing full-surround data sets", and
that the voluminous prior art presented during his years of
litigation with IPIX, -- who vigorously tried to invalidate Oxaal's
IP -- backs up his claim.

In the next few weeks, Oxaal will be releasing his first VR software
product with a license that will grant permission to commercially use his
IP as well as "immunize" his customers from suit by third parties, including
IPIX. Oxaal also indicated that he is willing to license his technology
to members of the VR community including hardware/software vendors and
even creators. He stated his goal is to achieve a "reasonable level
of profit for
his life's work and pioneering contributions to the field of immersive
imaging", and to help foster the growth of the entire industry in the long

Oxaal is aware of the spirited defense on his behalf put forth by the
international VR community regarding the claims by IPIX, and he said the
positive energy helped him get through some difficult times. During our
visit, Oxaal expressed an earnest desire to work with the VR community to
move the technology forward. He is definitely not into the "click" fees,
and feels such a model stifles growth.

On a cold and snowy day, three individual VR creators journeyed to meet
Oxaal. Expecting an older professorial gentleman, we were surprised by
the person we met:   a middle-aged, sharp witted, father of three small
children, with a hearty laugh.

I fully believe that the International VR community can expect more surprises.

Michael Quan

27 January 2003

{DISCLAIMER: The views presented are my own and do not represent other
organizations or companies.}



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Thanks for the post John. Let's keep each other updated.
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Hey.. what works ... really does work...
Forum Moderator for
EasyPano - Panoweaver

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I've been thinking on this patent issue. Now my reads of this forum seem to suggest that ip_x deem a three pic pano not an infringment upon their patent. Does easypano own a patent for a three pic pano?? How sure r u that u guys won't be Dersched (The hon. prof Dersch was somewhat screwed by the Ip_x corp for having provided the software for free. Now illeagal) Just wondering if u guys have a position to this fairly interesting topic. (Especially as I intend to make commercial use of ur product.)
A statement of sorts would surly clear the air for all of ur users and users to be.

If I only had an hour to chop down a tree... I'd spend 45 mins sharpening the axe.
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I ditto phoenixrising. I have been waiting two years since before I knew of the creation of Panoweaver to be able to work and publish my work here in the states. I think since Panoweaver is looking for world wide distribution channels now is there hope... Seaman can you clear up the matter here in the States.? I think you have provided us with the tools and I know I've been more than ready!!! Dave at 360 texas you've been publishing for about a year now here in the states what do you think?
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Don't loose sleep over this issue!

If your in the states, shoot 3 shot pano's instead of 2. 3 is better then 2 anyways....

Who owns that patent? WHO CARES!!!
Cross that bridge when it comes..... in the meantime have fun!!!        Outside the states have a blast!!!

See the world 360..........................
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This is a very helpful thread, but I'm still confused about one thing.  If IP*X lost their lawsuit to Ford Oxaal, why is everyone still suggesting that those of us in North America shoot 3-shot panos?

Are 2-shot panos not part of the lawsuit that Mr. Oxaal won, or does IP*X still hold this patent?  Or is there now an issue with infringing on Ford Oxaal's patent by using Panoweaver for 2-shot panos?

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Dear O_kNOw,

thx for the advice about having fun, though the statement is somewhat thoughtless considering the fact that ip_x managed to block a German site with this patent issue (His and his free software) (oh yeah and many sites that contained such work). I don't really see how much fun I'd have if I had to burn all of my work and even less fun would be had if I had to tell my customers that I f##ked up on a basic little issue like copyright law.
Now that would deff. go down like a bag of clangers. These large corps can do serious damage... alas. I really like this software and want to use it. But considering that it's based (so I assume) on Dersch's work... my querie above most deff. stands.

Craig: My understanding of the Oxaal case is one of: "Neither can prove the other one wrong/right". That Ip_x conceded an out of court settlement implies that Oxaal was vindicated due in proxy of dated artwork. Probably implies that Ip_x might have lost there patent to a wider audiance had the case gone to court.
My understanding is that the ip_x have 2 pic patent. Oxaal, as inventor is deemed coowner of said concept. We using panoweaver would infringe upon Ip_x and even Oxaal if in the states (Germany may have an issue here as well, though I am unclear on that matter) The 3 hemi pic is being touted as legal and not an infringement of above mentioned or anyother patents pending. Therefore the recommendation... though not as of yet validation.

Seaman: If u guys haven't sorted this issue, it might be worth having a wee chat to a man of legal knowledge... just to cover ur/our butts.

kind regards
So guys... whatcha reckon... whats the story?
If I only had an hour to chop down a tree... I'd spend 45 mins sharpening the axe.
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Hello Forum,

Phoenix rising you took the words right out of my mouth thank you for expressing that opinion. Now you know why I have sat on this technology for over two years now. I remember when a certain German Prof.'s site was shut down and my link from Panoguide didn't work any more. I couldn't get anymore info.
It was a good thing I archived most of the intruction manuals!
Anyway what bothers me is the thought of facing six corporate thugs in court for itellectual property infringement, after having built a costomer base. Not to mention the financial ruin! What also bothers me is some of the patents language (legal ease). I qote: "Oxaal claims he invented, among other things, the concept "capturing,storing,and processing full-surround data sets " "Data sets " being the operative fraze here. How many fisheye images make up a "full-surround data set"? Two, Three, Five images? There has to be more specific language here....I think the only way it will be redefined is through litigation! There I'm off my soap box. What do you guys think?

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Hiya BixVid,

Yup... these legal issues tend to be found at the bottom of murky ponds.
The problem with the data set issue is that I can't really speculate on what/how many said data sets fall under the licence agreement as I don't have said patent in front of me... nor would I probably be able to understand it.
But my understanding is that Ip_x peddles it's wares as a dual-hemi pix product. Prof Dersch/Oxaal also produced work useing the dual hemi logoriths. and corresponding software that was developed. My understanding from any number of sites that were panotool users is that the arguement was based on the said dual hemi pix issue and the corresponding software to stich (not just capture) said dual hemi's (though there appear to have been any number of contribs to assoc. software) Now panoweaver is obviously based upon Dersch's work, but has changed the overlap to 120 degrees instead of 180 ie 3 instead of 2 hemi's. This may/may not suffice to bypass the commercial aspects of the patents pending.
Though a statement form panoweaver would surly clarify said assumptions.

A consumer in waiting
If I only had an hour to chop down a tree... I'd spend 45 mins sharpening the axe.
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Is there anybody out there.....anybody?? Right on phoenixrising! A.... Seaman got your ears on?