One of the things that I've been tracking for a while now is software legal issues, having worked as a programmer among other roles in the software industry for 13 years. On my last job where I worked at AT&T Wireless / Cingular, I was involved with working with patenting some of their technology. Unfortunately, even though I helped patent work that was invented and done by my higher-ups in my role as a 'systems engineer', my name never got onto the patents.
So now that I've been thinking of coding some of my own projects, including data mining tool, I'm wondering now how to produce code.
For example, how can I make a data mining application that makes use of a database, say a Microsoft SQL database, without running afoul of patents, and who would I talk to? For example, I used to use an application called 'Business Objects', that mapped a relational database to a different queryable form. So if I were to do something like this with my tool, even though the purpose of my tool is different (I want to add some analytics into my tool to do data scrubbing, for example), how would I avoid runnning afoul of the law?
In addition, text entry methods, all of the Microsoft common controls, etc., are they patented? Maybe I need to contact Microsoft's legal team and see what is up with that.