Don't ask don't tell?

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  • I took out most of greetings and signatures, but they were polite or formal, just irrelevant. I also removed the company names, and anything that would identify the paper, author, or the company in question, so if you know, please don't reveal it in a response. The purpose is not to paint anyone in a bad light. I just think these email transcripts might prove instructive. plus, i just think the whole thing is a little silly, and I wanted to share it.

    the first email was sent on may 30, I received the last reply today, jun 16

    [quote:37cci1s9]Hello sir.

    First, thank you for sharing your ideas with the world. I wanted to ask for permission to use the source code, and if not, the algorithm or ideas contained in the paper,********* for a commercial gaming project. If the code or ideas are not yours in the sense that you may grant or refuse permission, would you please direct me to the proper channels? Thanks again for your time and your informative paper.

    Edgar Muniz

    [quote:37cci1s9]Hi Edgar Muniz,

    I understand that ******* does not have a licensing in place for its patents. I do not own the patent btw (I am the inventor however). For more details contact ********.


    I wanted to ask for permission to use the source code, and if not, the algorithm or ideas contained in the paper, ******** for a commercial gaming project. Thanks for your time.

    [quote:37cci1s9]I will be on maternity leave beginning April 12th.

    During my leave:

    • For trademark and copyright matters between April 12th-June 7th, please contact *******
    • For trademark and copyright matters after June 7th, please contact ******************
    • For patent matters, please contact ******************
    • For all other matters, please contact ************


    I wanted to ask for permission to use the source code, and if not, the algorithm or ideas contained in the paper, ******** for a commercial gaming project. Thanks for your time.

    [quote:37cci1s9] Hi Edgar,

    I need to check in with you on a couple things:

    How did you come into contact with the papers?

    Can you tell me the name of the company that you work for?

    [quote:37cci1s9]Thank you for the response.

    I came in contact with the papers by googling various related terms, such as ******, and *******.

    The company is in the process of incorporation, and as such has not shipped any games. The name of the company, pending government approval, will be ********, and our domain name is parked at *******.net.

    [quote:37cci1s9]Hi Edgar,

    The contents of the paper are ***** intellectual property which we currently do not license to 3rd parties as a company policy. Because of this we have to deny you permission to use these techniques. If this changes at some point in the future, I will let you know.

    Please let me know if you have any other questions.

    [quote:37cci1s9]I do have one more question, just to clarify. If I do a google search for "based on ******" I get 82,900 results, many of which are open source libraries which grant permission for use in one's own projects. Some are applications being sold on app stores for various mobile devices. The list goes on. Am I being denied permission to use the source-code specifically? If it is the actual ideas in the paper I'm being denied permission to use, is there any way I can get a concise list of which aspects of the ***** are ******* intellectual property as distinct from the ideas that were adapted from the various references listed at the end of the paper? I am aware there are other places to learn *******, but to be quite honest, it is difficult to find any modern source that does not reference this paper.


    It is very difficult to provide a blanket response to your questions. In general we do not license our research papers. That said, certain papers may contain information that is otherwise freely available for use by the public. Other pieces of information may be protected by intellectual property laws that protect copyrights and patents, among other things.

    I suggest that you work with your attorneys who help you with intellectual property matters to determine what is appropriate for your circumstances.

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  • So if I read this right, you're asking the author of a paper for permission to use his technique for something in a game. He tells you he invented it but doesn't own the patent. Tells you to contact company. You do. They say you can't use it. You tell them that other software and even open source libraries use the technique in the paper. So now you ask what is and isn't usable and they're telling you to contact IP knowledgeable folk. Seems like someone is just doing their job and telling you it's copyrighted. However, asking large companies if you can use their "even loosely regulated" IP will almost always end up with someone telling you you cannot. If others are using the technique in their commercial projects, and there are open-source libraries on the technique, then I geuss It's kind of a gray area.

  • Call it the Pandora's box complex. Once the information is available it can't be placed back in the box.

    That being said, it's impossible to police it all, and they know that. Hence the bait -n- switch, and general runaround you received.

    On the other hand the same could be said about your inquiry. Once the question is asked, you cant un-ask it.

    Um yeah, lets make that "don't ask, don't ask"

  • Seems reasonable to me - if they don't know or aren't sure, they'll say no, since it's safest for them. If you also say you're starting a company, they'll assume you have money to spend, will hire a lawyer, and have the issue checked out professionally.

    Is it that important to the game? Perhaps the easiest thing to do is just to not use the material then, especially if it's just a "this technique runs 10% faster than the usual" type thing.

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