In OpenCV, you can use the SIFT algorithm in doing feature detection. According to Wikipedia, however, the SIFT algorithm's patent has recently run out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scale-invariant_feature_transform

Is this true? According to the patent, it expired in March of 2020:


What does this mean, for end users? Can anyone use it, for commercial programs as well?

1 Answer 1


A patent gives an inventor the exclusive right to use the ideas covered by the patent. This means that nobody is allowed to create a product incorporating those ideas without permission from the patent holder.

This exclusive right is time limited and when a patent has expired then the time period for which those exclusive rights were given has ended. This means that you no longer need to ask permission to use the ideas that were covered by the patent.

For end-users it means that more, competing products based on the SIFT algorithm may become available, as anyone is now allowed to implement it without prior permission.

  • 1
    The rights conferred by patent are the rights to control making, using, selling, offering for sale, and/or importing devices embodying the patent, rather than the more-general "use". But that is a fine point, and in no way detracts from the rest of a great answer. +1 from me!
    – MadHatter
    Jun 11, 2020 at 8:58

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