While making a software how do you come to know which patents you have just stepped across?

And what happens if after the release of the software you realize that you did step over one?
Posted on 2003-03-17 05:44:10 by clippy
The second one hurts.
I released a program, and,... well.. I used several images, and recreated another program's look. But the only problem was that I used the images. Whatever you create, no matter how close it looks to something else, people can sue you only about the images, I think. In consequence I learnt how to draw well on Paint and Amapi3D (freeware).
Soon after you publish your software, you'll know whether you've "infringed" sby, but it will be about things that can be changed in a few days, so do not worry about anything! Many people back then told me "do not care about them, do your stuff the way you can and want".
There are thousands of ridiculous patents, and no-one really cares about them.
Posted on 2003-03-18 14:37:49 by Ultrano

I had friends ruined by patent holders.. as soon as the latter thought the former had any money. Don't understimate the risks..

They will be after you also after you stop selling your program.

They are greedy bastards out there for your money.. sharks.

That's why one spends big bucks to get a patent after all.. money, money and money.
Posted on 2003-03-18 15:09:08 by Maverick
I think patents are necessary to protect inventions and their authors : they worked hard on it after all...
But, and especially in computing world, patents are entraves to the technical evolution... tough that it can be discussed : to talk about a widely known case, PNG was born partly because Unisys Patents on LZW compression algorithm, and then GIF images.

Then, I have nothing against patents at all: the company I work for subscribed some, it was lot of work to create what was created (it is not algorithm patents, but technical engineering ones) and we have to protect our investissement: I am just against stupid and systematic applications of these patents like Unisys did and that it allows them to control even things they didn't created (Unisys did not create the GIF format. Compuserve did.) and in fact, they didn't even invented LZW...

The point of the patent protecters is often that patents make technology evolve since people can invest on researchs, they know they will get the investisement return because of monopoly...
But, is it really a technical evolution if this one is not shared ?
I am not an open-source zealot and such, but I think that creativity and innovation are really in danger when people puts limits to them.
People can patent what they have build, but not a way of thinking !
Posted on 2003-03-18 16:23:59 by JCP

Just a precisation:

I definitely think that patents are a good thing, ideally.

What I definitely dislike instead is the abuse of software patents made by some in the recent years. I'm not saying all software patents are bad, but in the last years we've seen a lot of abuse in this field. Software patents can't even be granted in Europe and most of the world.. they're an USA problem.
Posted on 2003-03-18 18:26:23 by Maverick
So what does one do about Patents.

I was looking at the us patents site and Ms itself has over 2500 patents.
Almost all major companies have lots of patents.

Its pretty easy to step over any one of them while creating any software.
And even if you try to search through all the patents in the world there might always be one left in your program.

So how does one really go about it?
Is make software then going to be a perilous venture cause you can end up being completly ruined by the software companies?
Posted on 2003-03-22 00:42:41 by clippy
Build your software the best way that you can. If you think you might be infringing on someone patent, you will either need to restructure your code or contact the patent holder to see if licensing is a viable option.

Patent rights must be defended by the patent owner. If you should happen to encroach upon someones patent, they would need to contact you requesting that you either cease & desist or work out some licensing agreement for the use of their technology.

Generally, no patent holder is going to out of the blue initiate court proceeding against infringement without first trying to resolve the issue directly. You will have time to work out a solution.
Posted on 2003-03-22 07:01:16 by Berninhell
But what if some users have already downloaded and purchased the software?
What will the company whose patents have been (accidentally) infringed do to me in such a case?
Posted on 2003-03-24 07:24:09 by clippy
There is no way to predict what anyone will do.

If you know or have good reason to suspect that you are infringing upon a patent, then change your code so that you are not infringing.

If you code in good faith and make accidentally infringe on someone's patent, the usual course of action from the patent owner would be to issue a cease and desist letter giving you the option of removing the ingringing code or licensing the patented technology. I'm not sure if there is a burden of proof regarding willful infringement or not, but I suspect that most lawyers would advise a cease and desist letter first as it is cheap and offers the possibility of negotiating a license for the patent.

I am not an attorney. Consult with a trademark and patent attorney for definitive answers.
Posted on 2003-03-24 09:37:20 by Berninhell