Services to verify software against existing patents

zorobar
zorobar used Ask the Experts™
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Greetings, are there businesses/services for verifying a software application/process against existing patents? for possible violations/infringements.
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Top Expert 2016

Commented:
There is not a hope of automating this. if you look at a patent application Microsoft patent application details use of human bodies for inhuman data transmissions

That is what the USPTO is supposed to do.. and they are very fallible.. Issuing patents for items that are not by definition patentable. The not checking for prior art...
Dave BaldwinFixer of Problems
Most Valuable Expert 2014

Commented:
David Johnson is right, that is never going to happen (unless it is a Scam).  You are asking a machine to understand the meaning of words and sentences and images well enough to compare them against others that are likely using different words and images.  People don't do all that well at that.

Author

Commented:
David J and David B, appreciate the feedback. How about businesses you can hire to perform such services? Are you aware of any?
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Dave BaldwinFixer of Problems
Most Valuable Expert 2014

Commented:
Yes, they are called patent lawyers and they are very expensive.  This page http://mercatus.org/publication/number-patents-has-exploded-1982-and-one-court-blame shows that there were 325,407 patents applied for in 2014 and the article says that most were for software.  You should realize that even when you are granted a patent, you will still have to hire lawyers to enforce it.  The government does nothing but make an official record of it.

Author

Commented:
Thanks Dave. If you are buying a software company, what type of "guarantee" would you expect from the seller when it comes to ensuring that the software you're buying isn't violating any existing patents? if the deal is valid and to the best of everybody's knowledge, there are no issues, is that all you can work with or do you/can you ask for more?
Dave BaldwinFixer of Problems
Most Valuable Expert 2014
Commented:
I would think that any "guarantee" would be suspect.  Software patents is an area that is in a great deal of change at the moment.  There are so many patents being applied for that it is difficult to know about existing patents.  As that article mentioned, a lot of the patents that are being applied for are "low quality patents" that have a good change of being denied or overturned.  Unfortunately, that is all done by the lawyers.
Top Expert 2016
Commented:
If you are buying a software company, what type of "guarantee" would you expect from the seller when it comes to ensuring that the software you're buying isn't violating any existing patents?

No one knows exactly what patents cover a specific scenario.

All that they can do (the seller) is attest that as far as they know their software doesn't infringe on any patent and there is no pending patent litigation in the works. Or that they have licensing in place for patents they do not own.

Just because someone patents something doesn't mean that the patent is valid, it just means as far as the <insert country name here> patent office has done their due diligence (which at times is rather spotty) and awarded the patent.  

You may have prior art or it may be a common practice that only when you challenge the patent may win unless you get an East Texas Court.  You can then appeal the decision of that court. Patent law firms make lots of money and it is a high growth industry.

You could argue that the patent is invalid or you could argue that you don't infringe upon the patent as it is registered.  You would then be subject to the whim of the court.  

Winning/Losing in one jurisdiction doesn't mean the game is over.. there is the rest of the planets patent offices/jurisdictions  to consider as well.

Luckily patents do expire unlike copyright that seems to have an infinite life these days.

Personally I detest software patents but I am only one person on this planet of 7.125 billion + the total number of incorporated companies that also count as a person

Author

Commented:
I greatly appreciate the feedback gentlemen. Thanks again.

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