Bad news for all image generator and dynamic-fancy-font-tabs-and-titles lovers. Your fun is now patented.
I was searching for some graphics format patents when I found US patent 7109985, claiming patent protection for server-side on-the-fly generation of images. It was filed 2001-12-14 and issued 2006-09-19.
It essentially covers every method of providing parameters to a server and using them to create or manipulate images that are then served to the client.
This includes simple tasks like resizing or text-in-image inclusion or spezialized applications like converting mathematical expressions to images for easy readability.
So who is affected by this patent?
Probably every major website using galleries with on-the-fly resizing, a lot of scientific website and every image generator.
For example Wikipedia and MathWorld convert their formulas into images. Right now Wikipedia uses the TeXvc module coupled with a LaTeX engine in the background.
Other affected big websites include Google with their rounded corners generator and Amazon, who run an engine to manipulate and mark up their product images.
So, when you create your next online generator for fun or as link bait, make sure it does not produce images like our beloved Dummies Book Generator, Ninja Text Generator or Brilliant Button Maker. Probably the majority of the generators featured in the Generator Blog will go down if the patent holder starts to enforce this patent.
The only surviving image generators will be the LiquidPixels demo site, those of the patent holder.
If you have any idea of prior art, in case the patent enforcement starts, please leave a comment with a link to it.
FYI the patent abstract of US patent 7109985 reads like this:
<blockquote>"A system and method is provided that dynamically creates, manipulates and transfers digital images over a communication network on a per request basis in an efficient manner, wherein the composition, format, presentation, and content of the digital images are determined by directives presented at the time of the request. The system includes a parser that takes a request and interprets it into a set of individualized operation commands that will, in sequence, be performed to create or alter an image. The commands derived from the parser are defined as a "job. One or more image processing engines may be called upon as the job is processed to perform requested image transformations. An output formatter takes the resulting processed image and converts it to the desired format stated in the request."</blockquote>