Would US Google patent prevent Google forge abroad?
January 20, 2009 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Let's assume I have a US patent for a certain software server technology, like better Google or youtube. Would this patent protect me from infringement abroad, where servers would serve requests coming from USA?

Patent holders may sue people who import goods that use invention. Is sending content in response to a request equivalent to exporting?
posted by luntain to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
IANAL, IANAPL, etc. etc. but I believe your only protection would be if the other country has some type of patent recognition with the US. I doubt the fact of the servers handling requests from the US means anything. Where they reside is what's significant.

From my experience going through the patent process, foreign patent enforcement requires filing for patents in each country that you want to have protection in. That, as you can guess, is a long, tedious, expensive, and ultimately hit-and-miss process.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:13 PM on January 20, 2009

No. If the (allegedly) infringing action takes place outside of the US, then your US patent is not infringed. This is called the "principle of territoriality."

Patent holders may sue people who import goods that use invention. Is sending content in response to a request equivalent to exporting?

That is because patents cover a number of infringing actions, such as offering or selling or imorting a patented product.
posted by sour cream at 2:27 PM on January 20, 2009

Response by poster: excerpt from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_software_patents

A patent for a gaming system that has particular importance regarding Internet usage. A server running the game was located outside the UK but could be used within the UK. The Court of Appeal of England and Wales judged that the patent was being infringed by virtue of the sale of CDs in the UK containing software intended to put the invention into effect in the UK.
posted by luntain at 3:26 PM on January 20, 2009

A court in a country where the patent is in effect can rule that someone outside the country has violated the patent, but as long as they stay outside the country, there's not much to be done in the way of enforcement (AFAIK, IANAL)
posted by winston at 3:43 PM on January 20, 2009

If you're actually in this situation you should probably talk to a lawyer. They may well tell you that no legal precedent has been set.

Patent holders may sue people who import goods that use invention.

True, but if you import goods into America, both the importer and the physical goods themselves are within the jurisdiction of American courts - and it's the importer who would end up in court, with the goods possible forfeit. There's no sensible analogy for those entities in internet communication, so I'm not sure comparisons would be valid.
posted by Mike1024 at 4:45 PM on January 20, 2009

No, it is not.
posted by deeaytch at 6:24 PM on January 20, 2009

Response by poster: All the answers so far say no. Would you agree that it sucks? I mean, patent was supposed to protect the inventor, so that he can risk free realize the invention. If the location of the server is the defining factor, than that protection is gone. It doesn't much matter where the server is located for a user connected to the Internet.
posted by luntain at 2:40 PM on January 21, 2009

I think if you asked a bunch of people who interact with the patent system, most of them would have certain reforms they would want to make, but few of them would be thinking of the reforms you're thinking of.
posted by Mike1024 at 3:51 PM on January 21, 2009

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