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We're working on a mobile app and discovered that a competitor has an active U.S. patent on the same idea and workflow. However, we are in the UK.

  • Does the U.S. patent apply to our works?
  • Are we allowed to distribute our app in international App Stores?
  • Must we exclude the U.S. from the store markets?

Edit: Some research shows that there is a WIPO patent, too.

  • Take the "U.S." in "active U.S. patent" as a clue as to the scope / limit of the monopoly rights ;-) – arober11 Apr 28 '15 at 7:33
  • @arober11 "Must we exclude the U.S. from the store markets that have our app listed?" – Jublo Apr 28 '15 at 19:59
  • If you suspect you'll infringe a VALID US patent go seek legal advice. – arober11 Apr 28 '15 at 20:09
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    @Jublo check for family patents – Pushpak May 10 '15 at 15:47
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    Please check patents.stackexchange.com/a/12153/11895 – Pushpak May 10 '15 at 16:37
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It's a tricky area legally. I don't think your scenario would even get to legal action, however. It's much more likely that the patent holder would complain to the app store. The most likely outcome of such a complaint is that your app would be summarily delisted, at least from U.S. market, as the app store has little incentive to fight on your behalf and likely incurs liability itself if based in the U.S.

If you want to investigate the legal aspects, here's a link to a relevant article:

http://jolt.richmond.edu/v14i1/article1.pdf

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