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March – Patent 5

EP256816 Method and device for interactive modification of images

Advice on the reading of patent specifications:
  • The decisive element are the claims, as they specify which actions are forbidden within the framework of the patent.
  • Violating one single claim is sufficient to be considered a patent violation. Generally, claim number 1 is the decisive main claim which covers all other claims relating to special cases.
  • The description is intended to help the reader interpret the claim. At the same time, it is supposed to document and disclose the details of the invention. This disclosure is the original purpose of the entire patent system.
  • In practice, a patent specification contains no detailed information on how the patented procedure could be implemented (even if the patent owner allowed the implementation). In particular, a software patent contains no program code (reference implementation), but merely describes the idea of a software.

Patented idea: Display of an image during the process of its modification

Main claim: Instead of applying the modification algorithm on the entire image it is applied successively on parts of the image.

Further claims:

  • Special case: line-by-line, also alternating
  • Synchronisation with the frame rate of the monitor
  • Special case: immediate display of all the modified parts on the monitor

Description: The patent specification describes the practical effects for the user if he can see parts of the results during modification even though the computing power is not sufficient to apply the algorithm in real time.

Everyday parallel: A painter (algorithm: painting) allows his client to watch his work. The patent would not be infringed if the client surveyed the paint not until the final result.

Examples for patent infringements:

  • The majority of grahics programs show the final result while a complex algorithm is processed so that the user can, for example, cancel unsatisfactory processes.

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