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Patent on Motion Menus???

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Lee McGowan
Patent on Motion Menus???
on Apr 18, 2011 at 11:29:50 am

Hi Pros,
Has anyone come across this issue - Many of my clients have complained that they have been approached by lawyers asking for settlement and/or a fee for the use of motion menus on DVD's l have authored. The motion menus are simply previews of individual chapters/scenes lasting approx 15 secs!!!

My clients all own the content being authored, it's just a 'tax' because they chose to use motion menus (standard feature on many DVD authoring applications, including my favourite Studio Pro).

Anyone else been affected by this issue?


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Mike Smith
Re: Patent on Motion Menus???
on Apr 18, 2011 at 3:22:00 pm

Sounds like a scam ... but hey, didn't some company try to claim a patent on hyperlinks, as late as 2002 ...?
http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/it-strategy/2002/08/23/bt-loses-hyperlink-paten...
Of course the whole field of software patenting - in contrast to copyright in software - is highly contentious ...

http://www.oss-watch.ac.uk/resources/softwarepatents.xml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent


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Richard Herd
Re: Patent on Motion Menus???
on Apr 18, 2011 at 5:57:28 pm

[Lee McGowan] "for the use of motion menus on DVD's"

This is probably a scam, but what do I know? I'm not a lawyer. That's my standard disclaimer.

A significant legal difference exists between a copyright and a trademark. Copyright is a work, like a novel, a poem, a movie, a book. A trademark is a logo, a slogan. Also a non-disclosure agreement covers the "in between" of this stuff, like client lists. Obviously my lists are not exhaustive.

If it's a true trademark infringement, then it sounds to me like it is NOT about footage rights (copyright issues), but that some company's logo, or similar creative asset, is being used without proper permission. Also many corporations have detailed usage rights for their logo. For example, the logo must be 1/4" from the margin; it must be 150% of the size of the biggest font, and so on.

If it's a copyright infringement, then it sounds to me (a non-lawyer) like there might be footage of someone's trademark. Let me say it better: you cannot take a picture of Mona Lisa and then claim you own the photo, because a copyright must be an original work. If you take a picture of something that is not original work, then you do not own the copyright. For example, other photography, architecture, logos on tshirts, all of that stuff is already owned by someone else. This could be a long list of things.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Patent on Motion Menus???
on Apr 18, 2011 at 8:35:31 pm

Help me to understand waht is being protested here.

The client's own original content is on the DVD you made for them.

You created motion menus that feature PIP boxes looping a few seconds of footage of that identical content, based on the actual content.

If the client owns the content, what exactly is the scalliwag's claim against you? IS this another product, using a client's footage? Or are they saying they own the entire idea of what a motion menu is, and so they want a royalty from you for using motion menus in a project? IANAL, but that last one sounds petty shaky. If they had a case, wouldn't they be suing every motion picture to come out on DVD, for millions, instead of you?


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Lee McGowan
Re: Patent on Motion Menus???
on Apr 18, 2011 at 9:29:24 pm

The client's own original content is on the DVD you made for them.
---Yes, they own all assets

You created motion menus that feature PIP boxes looping a few seconds of footage of that identical content, based on the actual content.

---Correct

If the client owns the content, what exactly is the scalliwag's claim against you?
--- The claim is not against me personally, just to the companies l have authored DVD for.

IS this another product, using a client's footage?
---No
Or are they saying they own the entire idea of what a motion menu is, and so they want a royalty from you for using motion menus in a project?
---correct, apart from they want a royalty from the companies l have authored DVD's for.
IANAL,
---not sure what IANAL stands for, but if it rhymes with 'what the 'eck', my thoughts exactly!

If they had a case, wouldn't they be suing every motion picture to come out on DVD, for millions?
---apparently this is what's been happening, though l have searched extensivly on the web l can find no reports. It's cheaper to settle l suppose.

Giving this more thought, aren't motion menus part of the DVD spec? Don't we pay royalties to them already by purchasing DVD authoring software? Are not royalties also paid at replication?

I really don't get it, hence my post!


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Mike Smith
Re: Patent on Motion Menus???
on Apr 18, 2011 at 9:40:53 pm

No doubt your clients' lawyers will want to look at the details of the claimed patent(s). Perhaps you could get your contacts to pass that info to you, and you could post it here for us, and we could all dig up and look at any claimed patent, and see how it sits with prior art, inventive step, whatever. This is a new one to me too.


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Lee McGowan
Re: Patent on Motion Menus???
on Apr 19, 2011 at 8:50:26 pm

Hi Mike,
l will try & get more details


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Lee McGowan
Re: Patent on Motion Menus???
on Apr 18, 2011 at 9:03:00 pm

If l may clarify, the lawyers are not claiming any misuse of trademark or copyright - the clients l author DVD's for are mainly 'Blue Chip' companies who own all the content anyway - these lawyers are claiming that their client owns the Patent on the use of motion (video) on menus on any DVD replicated! Basically, if there is video on a menu, they want a royalty!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Patent on Motion Menus???
on Apr 18, 2011 at 10:00:22 pm

Ah, a "patent troll". There's a company that does nothign but this all day long, digging up and buying patents to obscure things having to do with computers, then they go around trying to intimidate fat companies into paying them to make it all go away.


IANAL (translation: I Am Not A Lawyer) but I have not heard of this particulalr DVD thing winning a case yet. I'm sure it would have been front page news, considering how widespread the practice is. I would research wwhat the DVD trade group in charge of the DVD standard itself has to say about this, before you go cutting any checks.


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Richard Herd
Re: Patent on Motion Menus???
on Apr 19, 2011 at 1:33:05 am

iANAL.

Yeah, I own the patent on stairs. Everytime someone walks up stairs or down stairs, they owe me money. So far it's been really tough to collect.

silly.


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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: Patent on Motion Menus???
on Apr 20, 2011 at 1:01:05 am

I'm sure that there is a patent for moving menu's. However, that should be covered by the DVD authoring Software provider. i.e. if you use Adobe Encore, one would think that they've negotiated with the patent holder in order for their users to use the feature. In a similar way that DVD manufacturers licence very technologies such as DTS and Dolby to make their product more advanced.

So yes, there is likely to be a patent place, which should be covered by the software used to produce the menu with - but you'll need to check with those guys first, before showing the lawyer the door :-)

All the Best
Mads
London, UK

Please do visit our faceBook page here: http://www.facebook.com/MacMillionProductions

Mac Million Ltd. - Digital Media Production
Blog: http://macmillionltd.blogspot.com


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