TL;DR: Can you publicly release your own implementation of a patented algorithm as a free research tool for others, under the GPL, when you do not hold the patent (but will happily give clear and thorough attribution to the owners of the patent)? see below for clarification.
First off, apologies if this question has already been answered. After ~30 minutes of googling and stack-exchanging, I haven't found anything that quite answers what I'm facing.
I work in an academic group and part of our work has been implementing a CT reconstruction algorithm similar to what is done clinically by a major manufacturer. This manufacturer has a patent that definitely covers what we have implemented. (I did the implementation from a paper published almost 10 years earlier, only to find that they had also patented the algorithm a little over a year ago. Damn.)
They have a patent on the method of reconstruction and several of the equations utilized, but no source code or anything of the sort. The code implementation is 100% unique to our group. We're talking patents, not copyright.
We are planning to write a "technical note" about our implementation (gpu-based, more detail on how we implemented the published algorithms (i.e. much more detail than what's patented), etc. all stuff which is not described in the patent) for publication in a major journal ** AND ** this would include releasing our source code. I would like to release it under GPLv2.0 to provide folks with a research tool.
The GPL would prevent us and anyone down the road from using our code in proprietary software, and if anyone were to use it to make money, they would have to pay rights to the patent owner (and release any code derived from ours). I would like to somehow make clear that we are not claiming any rights to the algorithm, and the only the implementation would be covered by the GPL, however I recognize this distinction may not be possible under the current US legal setup (blegh).
Even if we could somehow make that distinction clear when/if we release, are we violating any of their rights with the patent? I'm thinking they would have to somehow show that our release damaged their business covered by the patent.
Any thoughts from more experienced folks are much appreciated! I think this may be kind of a gray area (or not! I'm not a lawyer! haha).
We do NOT wish to infringe upon the patent and don't pretend to have any claim to. We have a good relationship with the vendor, so we'll most likely end up figuring it out with them, but if they said no, I was curious if it's just because of their feels or if thay have a legitimate claim against our group.