If I am a UK-based software vendor or 'software as a service' company, what are the legal implications of including academic research algorithms in products sold to European and international clients?
In particular I am focussed on Machine Learning algorithms. I notice that there has been a lot of discussion about Google attempting to patent some of their algorithms e.g. here.
Some of these algorithms are really just a composition of previous ideas and not utterly original. Even so, the patent process at the moment enables large conglomerates to monopolise the ownership of algorithms. You only have to do a Google patent search for 'neural networks' or 'gradient descent' to see how many patents are held by IBM, Microsoft and Google et al.
But many companies, including large numbers of tech start-ups, already run software behind the scenes that undoubtedly use such algorithms; have you heard of any cases where those companies have been sued? There also seems to be a lot of ambiguous advice concerning the commercial use of such algorithms. Can anyone give me advice on what sources would help me explore all legal issues associated with such commercial activities? What are the risks for going ahead and using algorithms that may in the future be patented? Should these legal issues be viewed on a case-by-case basis, or are there rules of thumb that can be followed?