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I'm planning to create a biometric time attendance software but stumbled upon ImageWare Systems Inc. patents. Namely US7298873. I did some research and found couple reports on company: pumpstopper and Nasdaq (original : seekingalpha).

I wonder if it is risky to start developing anything that is related to biometrics especially after checking ImageWare one of latest corporate calls (mp3), where a call participant estimates patent portfolio as worth more than the company market cap.

According to the pumpstopper and Nasdaq reports company is a money hole and in view of the reports I'm concerned if company is keen on selling their patent portfolio to patent trolls or start trolling themselves.

In short my question is how to tell if ImageWare patents are of substantial risk?

  • I'm afraid the problem with ImageWare is even bigger... Checked out WIPO. It looks that they just filed for two more patents: 1 and 2. – Andrew C. Jul 28 '16 at 8:46
  • I’m confused now. It looks like it is better to stay out of biometrics at least in US. The referenced patent list 3dalliance mentioned is overwhelming. There is no way to research all those patents. And what does it say about patents if they are referenced so many times as are ImageWare patents? Those patents are extremely valuable? – J. McCurdy Aug 2 '16 at 8:26
  • Yes the vast amount of patents is troubling. The fact that ImageWare patents are referenced a lot of times does not say a lot it just says that they contain popular ideas. Usually when examiner examines prior art it is not claims he refers to but description, abstract, images... Patents may claim just a minute part of that at least due to the fact that business builds upon academic accomplishments and previous business ideas not the other way around. I suggest you try to post prior art request for all ImageWare patents that looks easier to prove having no useful novelty. – Andrew C. Aug 18 '16 at 11:02
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There is no definitive answer to your question. The simple suggestion is that you might want to consider consulting with your attorney. But, unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that even attorney will have a proper yes or no answer.

There is a website though that might help you decide whether the software you are going to create infringes ImageWare patent: website where they try to use patent prosecution against the patent, at least it should help you to understand what the patent is patenting. Keep in mind that there are probably much more patents related to biometrics not only ImageWare patents. Anyway the more information you collect on patents related to your product the better understanding of patent situation you acquire.

Keep in mind the patent you’ve mentioned is a US patent, apparently ImageWare has applied for a same patent in many countries: WIPO. In the end it is up to you to assess the risk.

...

After going through the reports you provided it really looks that the company is very bad at what they are doing which is a cause to worry having in mind that they put so much effort into patents as you've said.

Take a look at ImageWare's patent families:

...

My suggestion is to analyze those patents and if they can still be objected to add corresponding questions here marked as a prior art request. Also if you see that patent is claiming way less than it might seem from abstract or description (take a look at the website I've mentioned earlier: link, backup link), it would be great to share the reasoning here in stackexchange.

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You also must consider the DOZENS of subsequent patents that reference this patent as prior art. The are very large players Honeywell, NEC, Sony, Samsung & Raytheon among others too that have filed similar patents. They are who I would be worried about as well.

I agree with the above answer that this would be difficult for even an expert, but from this layman's point of view this work has a minefield of interlocking patents and applications to overcome.

US8063889 Honeywell

US8050463 Honeywell

US8085993 Honeywell

These few seem particularly daunting.

See the referenced by section for dozens of others ... iris scanning, image acquisition, biometrics: US7298873

  • Would you care to elaborate on that? Details like patent numbers or links to articles or any kind of analysis would be of huge help. – J. McCurdy Jul 27 '16 at 8:01
  • Thank you. Do you know if any of the companies you've mentioned has a tendency to leverage the market using their patents? I mean in biometrics?.. Because if everyone is keeping the patents just for the defense against potential trolls then it's not too big of a problem... Am I right? – J. McCurdy Aug 2 '16 at 8:39

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