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I have written some software based on publicly available research papers that other people have written. I know that the authors of the research papers have filed for patent for their work. I do not want to assert any copyright on the software that I have written, but it is possible that other people own IP to the ideas that the software implements.

My question is: what is the most permissive license that I have the legal authority to grant for the software that I have written?

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Copyright and patents are tangential things. If all of the code in your software is your own then you can give it any license you like, including fully proprietary. However if the research article included code or pseudocode which you adapted your code from, then your code might be considered a derivative work. To determine whether it is you would have to engage a lawyer.

My understanding of patents is fairly basic, but if the concepts have already been published then they shouldn't be patentable anymore. They would only be able to file for patents on the ideas they haven't explained in the article. If you've been able to figure out those ideas from reading the article, then if you publish your software it might count as prior work, invalidating the patent. Again, engage a lawyer to be certain.

  • On the first part: any source for this? It seems odd that I can give any license for software that potentially uses IP from someone else. On the second part, the authors filed for a patent before publishing their research which is now public. There is no question of invalidating patents etc. – SRT Jun 28 '16 at 23:14
  • If the software is an entirely original work then you can choose the license, but patents may restrict your use of it. And you should edit the question to put all relevant details in it. – curiousdannii Jun 28 '16 at 23:43
  • US patent law requires that you file for patent within 1 year of publicly disclosing your invention. Maybe they've filed for patent already, which doesn't prevent them from publishing their paper. – congusbongus Jun 28 '16 at 23:43
  • @congusbongus disclosing an invention is different from publicly describing and explaining it (Which a research paper presumably would.) But anyways, and if you're not certain, get a lawyer! – curiousdannii Jun 28 '16 at 23:45
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    If you wrote it then you have the copyright. However they can block you in the US, using their patent. They can also right their own and have a copyright, but can not copy yours without upholding your licence. In the EU you can ignore the patent, as software patents are not enforceable. – ctrl-alt-delor Jun 30 '16 at 22:18

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