I've been researching better user interfaces, specifically alternatives to mice.
In doing this I've come across 3dmice. The only manufacturer seems to be 3dconnexion (owned by logitech).
They appear to have several quite broad* patents. See for example https://patents.justia.com/assignee/3dconnexion-gmbh
I also came across a nice open source project to create a similar device - https://github.com/mattogodoy/mighty-mouse
This brings to mind several questions:
Does providing instructions on how to build something potentially infringe a patent?
Are you free to provide instructions so long as you don't sell the complete product or assembled components that mgiht infringe?
There are places that will fabricate items for you given instructions such as thingiverse. If you upload the instructions there (e.g. like https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1693444) Such that someone can buy them. Who if anyone is liable for infringing the patent?
- the author or team contribtuion the instructions (e.g. on github)
- the person uploading them to the manufacturer's site
- the site hosting the design and offering to print it for you (e.g. thingiverse)
I'm guessing it would work something like copyright on youtube. The author's could be threatened with a suit and the hosts github and or thingiverse for example would be issued some kind of takendown notice asking them to remove the infringing content and would face legal action if they did not comply.
Also consider that the various entities involved could be in different juristictions.
*To my untrained eye the patent claims I linked to look overly broad and possibly could be invalidated by prior art with sufficient research and a good lawyer but that is irrelevant to this question
I just came across this:
Unlike copyright infringement which requires copying an original, even if inadvertently, patent infringement does not require any knowledge of the original invention and can even be an "original" invention by the infringer. Infringement is not triggered by a second inventor conceiving the same thing as the patent owner but is triggered by making, selling, offering for sale, importing or using a patented device or executing the steps of a patented.
In your scenario the end user is using the patented invention and would be a direct infringer. If the software provider knew that this would occur they might be an indirect infringer essentially supplying a component of a patented object or might not be if it had significant non-infringing uses.