I am developing a 3D modeling application.

How can I know what is considered as part of the sketchup patent?

The extrude tool is obviously common to all 3D modeling softwares, that makes me think that what is patent is the ability to draw arbitrary 2D shapes on a 3D face, with automatic intersections computation and automatic triangulation.

However 3Ds max also has the "Cut tool" or the "Paint Connect tool" to draw lines and compute intersections on any face.

The only difference I see is that Sketchup 3Ds max does not support holes (polygon holes) on a face, and it does not provide any tool to draw directly a rectangle or circle on a face.

Can I make a rectangle tool (a rectangle is just a set of 4 lines)? Can I handle holes?

When I create a new modeling tool, how can I know it remains out of the Sketchup patent?

What do I risk by implementing those features? A fine? Obligation to remove my product from the US market? Obligation to remove some features?

1 Answer 1


This is the type of question that's probably best answered in consultation with a lawyer. It's hard for me to give you a helpful response that isn't specific legal advice.

The risks of infringing (or even possibly infringing) a patent include a lawsuit in which you have to defend yourself against the accusations. If you're challenged with a lawsuit (i.e., approached to negotiate) then you might have to pay a license or royalty of some sort -- you can reach nearly any mutually satisfactory agreement. You may even convince them that you don't infringe! If you lose a lawsuit, then you can be ordered not to infringe (the Court orders an "injunction" which "enjoins" you from engaging in a particular behavior) and/or ordered to pay damages.

There would be no "fine" paid to the US government, but there could be "damages" paid to the owner of the patent and a Court order removing your product from the market or ordering you to change it.

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