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In reference to the patent: US9207318

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When you're looking at an issued patent (which you can recognize by the 9-digit patent number, 9,207,318 in this case, vs. the 11-digit publication number of a not-yet-granted patent application, e.g., US2012/0319893), you can figure out what it covers (and what you're not allowed to do) by reading the claims.

As @EricShain says, it's often a highly-technical chore to construe the claims, and if you have money riding on the correct answer, you'll certainly want to hire competent counsel to advise you. But most moderately-literate technical people can at least get an idea of what's going on by reading the claims themselves. They're written in a weird, lawyerly jargon, but it's not like they're in Greek. In your patent, claim 1 recites:

  1. A computer-implemented method for generating a damage proxy map, comprising:

receiving first radar signals for an area prior to a damage event;

obtaining, based on the first radar signals, a master coherence map for the area prior to the damage event;

receiving second radar signals for the area spanning the damage event;

obtaining, based on the second radar signals, a slave coherence map for the area including the damage event;

registering the slave coherence map to the master coherence map;

modifying pixel values of the slave coherence map using histogram matching, wherein a first histogram of the master coherence map exactly matches a second histogram of the slave coherence map;

computing a coherence difference between the modified slave coherence map and the master coherence map to produce a damage proxy map; and

displaying the damage proxy map, wherein the coherence difference is displayed in a visually distinguishable manner.

In other words, it's a list of things that a computer program does, where the end result is "generating a damage proxy map." (I don't know what a "damage proxy map" is; you'd have to read the rest of the patent to find out.)

But, let's say you also wanted to generate a damage proxy map, or you already have a program that does that, and you want to know if it infringes this patent.

To a first approximation, you can just go down the list of "elements" in the claim, and ask yourself: "does my program do this? Or does it do something else?"

In a method claim, it's not necessarily significant that you do things in a different order...the if the steps all happen, and if the claim doesn't explicitly say step 2 must happen after step 1, then the claim may cover a system where step 2 happens before step 1.

If you're designing a new program to generate damage proxy maps, then you would want to look for other ways of doing it, so that if the owner of this patent shows up to hassle you, you can say "Well, my program doesn't 'register the slave coherence map to the master coherence map'" (element 5).

Note that you usually can't just change the names of your variables or something; if you got into an infringement fight, both sides would be looking at your program and trying to figure out if there's some way to match up the claim elements to the program. If it's impossible to match up, then you ought to be able to avoid an infringement finding. But if it's questionable, then the patent owner might be able to beat you in court, force you to stop using or selling your program, and even force you to pay them for infringing the patent.

Again, this is a very technical, detailed area of law*, and you shouldn't rely on your own uneducated understanding of the claims if you'll have a lot of resources at risk in your operations. But you don't have to hire a lawyer right out of the gate if you're just trying to figure out what's going on.

* Note that I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer. This is not legal advice. I am not claiming to tell you what patent #9,207,318 covers; I am only attempting to explain the general steps one would take to begin figuring out the answer to that question.

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This is an issued US patent. The claims define what is protected. You need to read them carefully. You may not produce a product made or sold in the US which does what is claimed. If you do, you infringe the patent and may be sued. There is very likely equivalent patents covering other countries.

I'm sorry to not parse the claims for you, as this is a seriously technical patent outside my field of expertise and technological questions are off topic for this site. Also as I am not a lawyer, I try not to provide actual legal opinions.

  • Could the down voter have the common curtesy to comment why? – Eric Shain Feb 3 '17 at 22:36

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