In reference to the patent: WO 2014/105866 A1 (US 2014/0180986).

1 Answer 1


Yes, you may (at least for now) because the patent is only at the application phase, which means it is not yet enforceable. However, if the patent is granted, then it is retroactive to the Priority Date, which could potentially make you (your institution) liable for damages.

I would not expect the WIPO application to succeed in its current form because there are multiple independent claims. This usually does not pass examination for software patents at WIPO. It may, however, survive in a narrower form that uses more specific language (the current claim language is overly broad). Also note that there is a separate US application (US 2014/0180986).

Please refer to this other answer for a detailed analysis of the patent application and its potential Prior Art.

It is illegal to build a patented design for personal use, even in single quantity copies.

However, experimental use (research use) is allowed (with caveats).

Studying the invention

It is always permissible to use a patented invention for research purposes. Such study may give new insights in possible uses of the invention, or possible alternatives to what is described in the patent. This might even result in new patents for the alternatives, or in workarounds.

Of course, the "research" should not simply be a commercial exploitation in disguise.

But make sure you also refer to Madey v. Duke University, a case where the common law of experimental use was rejected. The criteria for rejection was that the experimental use was within the business of the university, even though it was a non-profit. As the Wikipedia article on Madey states:

In Madey v. Duke University, 307 F.3d 1351, 1362 (Fed. Cir. 2002)], the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals on October 3, 2002 effectively ended a 170-year-old practice of allowing scientists to freely borrow patented technologies for limited use in basic research that is not aimed at commercial use.

The good news is that WIPO is considering extensions to private and non-commercials use.

Standing Committee on the Law of Patents Twentieth Session Geneva, January 27 to 31, 2014


Promotion of private, creative and academic activity

  1. Some Member States highlighted the additional aspects of the policy objectives to be promoted, in particular, private and academic activity and creativity, personal and family use, research and teaching, as well as dissemination of knowledge.

There has not yet been a good test of 35 U.S.C. § 271(a), in the case of private, personal or family use, but academic use is clear via the Madey v. Duke decision.

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