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June – Patent 3

EP1030188 Situation awareness system
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 idee: Obtaining an overall picture by means of synthesizing analysed data rendered by several cameras.

Main claim: Using an application specific database together with template matching in order to generate an overall picture from videostreams already analyzed which are rendered by several cameras.

Further claims:

  • Sensors provide with additional data
  • Particular case: overall picture within the ground plan ("orthogonal to the point of view of the cameras")
  • Particular: panoramic scene
  • Indicating directions of movement in the overall picture
  • Display controllable by user
  • Main claim as method (instead of a computer with program)

Description: The patent description points out the "novelty" of the patented idea.

Everyday parallel: An employee of a security company observes a suspicious person by means of several observation cameras. As he knows the positions of the cameras ("application specific database") and recognizes the same person on pictures of different cameras ("template matching") he is capable of tracing the persons' movements on the ground plan ("overall picture"). As a result he infringes the main claim.

Examples for patent infringements: The patent presupposes that the data streams rendered by the cameras have been analysed already. Accordingly, the patented representation of the results in the ground plan is the natural next stept undertaken by programmers for trouble shooting. Authors of software for video surveillance do not come around this patent.

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