I've been told that I should not use some format because it's patented (gif, mp3, h264). I'm not a U.S. citizen but from E.U.

Do these patents apply to me? Are they global? U.S. specific? Or is it more complicated?

  • 2
    Could you be more specific about what you mean by "using" a format?
    – Dan Getz
    Jun 23, 2015 at 18:03

2 Answers 2

  • All relevant GIF patents expired in 2004. Use freely.
  • MP3 is patented in the united states, so theoretically you can use it in an open source... if it won't be published in the USA. TL;DR - Don't use freely.
  • H264 - Also patented in the US. Same as MP3 above.

In short, patents are national affairs, but if you want people of that country to be able to really utilize the open-sourceness of your application, do not use patented formats or software.

That applies to anything with patent, anything with a licence that doesn't permit distribution/modification (basically, only use MIT and forms of GPL), and anything else that might prevent someone from legally downloading, modifying and distributing your application, under the laws of any country.

  • Do you mean to say that the only unexpired MP3 and H264 patents left are the ones in the US? Doing a quick search, it doesn't seem to be true that they were never patented in other countries.
    – Dan Getz
    Jun 23, 2015 at 18:02
  • @DanGetz That is correct, there were many patents over the year, looks like the US ones are the only ones left Jun 23, 2015 at 18:05

Patents generally are regional, so US-patents don't work in the EU and vice versa. But in general, most big companies claim their patent in most jurisdictions worldwide, especially US, EU and Japan.

  • Questions about intellectual property law deserve a more thorough treatment; can you elaborate on this answer, or cite your claims?
    – Air
    Jun 23, 2015 at 18:26
  • This doesn't seem to be an answer to the original question at all.
    – Dan Getz
    Jun 23, 2015 at 20:02
  • 1
    @Dan: It isn't? The question is if patents apply globally, the answer is that every region has its own patent system. So why do you think this doesn't answer the question?
    – Mnementh
    Jun 23, 2015 at 20:07
  • @Mnementh Maybe we're reading the question differently because the question's missing some details. I thought it was, "are there patents that would cover my use of those technologies?"
    – Dan Getz
    Jun 23, 2015 at 20:11
  • As I read it, the question ask more, if some patents do apply to a non-US-citizen.
    – Mnementh
    Jun 23, 2015 at 20:13