patent infringmentGeneral Forums/Digital Discussion/patent infringment
How do we find out if we are breaking patents before the big day?
Any program that has more than a paragraph of source code is bound to violate at least a dozen patents -- have a health bar? patented. Have any kind of auto-update? countless patents. Ask the user a question? patented. do any math? patented. write to disk? patented. Keep score? patented. Allow the user to set configuration options? patented. Use icons to represent actions? patented. keep score? patented. Store highscores? patented.
The real question is whether or not anyone will come after you for violating one of them... And unfortunately, no way to know until they do.
This is why many of the large companies (microsoft, ibm, google, oracle, etc.) collected the tens of thousands of patents they do: if a patent holder tries to smack microsoft for violating one of their patents, microsoft can turn right around and counter-sue for violation of a dozen of their patents in return.
It's a bit of mutually-assured-destruction -- the only way to win is to be the big dog here, a small hobby programmer is pretty much screwed if they wander into a larger companies crosshairs...
...Except the tides are slowly turning, and just being big doesn't really work anymore now there are shell companies that simply buy and own countless patents to sue others over, but that don't actually produce anything of their own that would violate patents in return.
Software patents are a VERY bad idea, and massive patent reform is badly needed.... But thanks to the countless of billions of dollars involved with these schemes its highly unlikely that anything is going to significantly change in the immediate future...
(And that is completely aside from the fact that the software lifecycles are so short that many of the patents might as well last an eternity in software years)