When Intergraph Process, Power and Marine software scientist Curt Werline first thought about the patent potential of his 3D Model View Manipulator Apparatus, he was concerned that the product must already exist.
“It was too simple of an idea,” said Werline, who has worked at Intergraph in Huntsville for 21 years. “I thought that someone must have already done it.”
But after his wife – a technical writer – generated an abstract on the problems that Werline’s software could solve, he forwarded the document and his renderings to Intergraph’s legal department in 2008. The process continued with patent attorneys in Boston.
Seven years after he first put his ideas on paper, Werline was granted patent No. 9035944 on May 15. The company celebrated with a ceremonial pat on the back and ice cream party on July 16.
Charles Evans, Intergraph PPM executive vice president of development and chief technical officer, said the company encourages employees to pursue the patent path, and financial rewards await those who are successful. Additionally, Intergraph takes on the legal expenses involved in the process.
Melanie Eakes, Intergraph PPM executive vice president of global support and quality assurance, said patents add value to Intergraph and Hexagon, and she wants many more to be added to the company’s cache.
In Werline’s words, his three-dimensional common view manipulation cube allows users to eas¬ily and efficiently orient any 3D object represented on a computer screen. This unique approach to object manipulation and view positioning uses no screen real estate and provides an intuitive user interface designed for maximum control and functional speed.
Werline has worked in software’s visual realm for decades. Before joining Intergraph, he served in the Air Force for five years – including during the Gulf War – as an imagery intelligence officer.
His patent-worthy idea began when he was working with CAD packaging and he had trouble orienting his module to a common view. As he maneuvered his way through the struggle, he found a way to “enclose it, show it and rotate the view.”
SmartPlant Review is the first Intergraph product in which he will implement his discovery, and he later plans to place it in a common location so that other 3D visualization products can use it.
“So, now I have an official patent, and I feel very proud to have my name on something like that,” Werline said. “It makes me feel very humble but also proud to be a part of this wonderful Intergraph family.”