[OSM-dev] Drawing ways with bezier curves rather than linesegments

Jeroen Dekkers jeroen at vrijschrift.org
Thu Jan 25 14:42:06 GMT 2007

At Thu, 25 Jan 2007 10:03:01 +0000,
Dave wrote:
> Andy Robinson wrote:
> > I'll stand corrected on this but I recall we had a long discussion on bezier
> > curves maybe more than a year ago, a search of the list (probably on talk at
> > the time) should find something. One of the issues that was flagged at the
> > time was a patent that Navtech has on bezier curves. I think it was one of
> > the reasons the idea was dropped quicker than it might otherwise have been.
> >   
> You can't patent bezier curves, there's prior art. Saying we will use 
> bezier curves, /but on a map/, is such a non-patent it isn't even funny. 
> And automatically figuring out what curve to use from a series of 
> straight lines has been functionality in vector graphics programs for 
> donkeys years.

Prior art doesn't really stop the patent office from granting
patents. I can't really seem to find the number of the patent
mentioned anywhere, just that "there is a patent" which is not really
useful. If we're talking about US6366927, then I don't really think
it's a big problem, because storing the shape of the curve in a
database is a fundamental part of the patent claim.


> Keep the software in Europe and for the moment at least we avoid the 
> insanity of requiring an army of lawyers and the backing of a 
> multinational to do things which are basic and obvious.

Most software patents exist in Europe too. For example, EP0919788
is the European version of US6366927. The European version is
narrower, only claiming the use in "navigation systems". So just
drawing the map won't infringe on the patent at least.

Jeroen Dekkers

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