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I'm using a android like lock screen (The one with the nine dots that you have to connect to log in) in my application currently. I'm afraid of getting a mail from google because of some patents that I didn't know. Is the android lock screen patented or can I rebuild it and use it in my application?

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What would you do if you received a letter from Google? Kill your app? Redesign the lock screen? Frame it? How much would each of these cost? –  Dan Pichelman Jun 11 '13 at 14:51
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You likely don't know (reading patentese is difficult)... and if you do look to see if you are infringing, things can get worse (willful infringement). Standard practice in many tech shops is "don't look and let lawyers sort it out." If in doubt, ask a lawyer. –  MichaelT Jun 11 '13 at 14:53
    
As current patenting mafia stuff goes you just don't. Fortunately that madness is not valid everywhere –  Balog Pal Jun 11 '13 at 15:00
    
@Dan Pichelman: I think I would redesign it. If I understand you right, I should make a risk analyse? –  Jan Hommes Jun 11 '13 at 15:48
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closed as not constructive by Jim G., GlenH7, Yusubov, Dynamic, MichaelT Jun 12 '13 at 23:10

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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

I've held to the advise given by Paul Graham in his essay: Are Software Patents Evil?

No one will sue you for patent infringement till you have money, and once you have money, people will sue you whether they have grounds to or not. So I advise fatalism. Don't waste your time worrying about patent infringement. You're probably violating a patent every time you tie your shoelaces. At the start, at least, just worry about making something great and getting lots of users. If you grow to the point where anyone considers you worth attacking, you're doing well.

Just build something great and don't worry about patents.

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Although now that the OP believes he may be in violation of a patent he's in triple trouble if found guilty! –  James Jun 11 '13 at 20:38
    
@James - True, if I was really worried I would do a quick check, and if I found a patent I would avoid violating it. If I found no patents in my quick check, then I could truthfully say "I checked, and found no patents" should I ever be sued. I would generally not worry about patents though, and I wouldn't check to see that every little part of my application is free of patents. –  Buttons840 Jun 11 '13 at 20:43
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If you want to check if you're in violation of patents get a patent lawyer to check for you. Every company I've worked for has prohibited engineers from looking at, or searching for, patents. –  James Jun 11 '13 at 20:45
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@Buttons840 US patent courts have repeatedly held that only lawyers admitted to the patent bar are competent to judge whether a patent has been infringed. Nobody else can render a decision without invoking treble damages. –  Ross Patterson Jun 11 '13 at 22:56
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You can be rest assured that everything you do is breaking the law in regards to patent law.

That being said. Unless you become incredibly successful you probably don't have to worry

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Don't know why this is getting so many upvotes; it doesn't explain anything. This isn't a fashion contest; use your votes wisely, people. –  Robert Harvey Jun 11 '13 at 19:43
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While I agree with the content of this answer, @Buttons840 explained it much better (and with a useful link). –  Joachim Sauer Jun 11 '13 at 19:48
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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

If you knowingly infringe a patent you are liable for triple damages!

So unless you know you are close to infringing then don't bother trying to find out! You won't be sued unless you have or are about have lots of money. A patent case costs a minimum of $2.5M to pursue. So unless you have the next Instagram don't worry. It's best to be ignorant.

However, if you are actively trying to skirt an existing patent, and where you think you could be sued, then you need advice of competent patent attorney. Don't discuss the case with others, colleagues or superiors via email. Expect all emails to be reviewed by the protagonist. Mark all emails to the patent attorney as attorney- client privileged, include those words and those email can't be used against you.

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most places I worked the instructions were "Pick up the phone, nothing on paper" - but that was before the days of archives on digital phones..... –  mattnz Jun 12 '13 at 4:40
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