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Old 6th June 2018
Funkygoby Funkygoby is offline
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Default Cloning a commercial software

A friend of mine is getting close to defend is doctoral thesis. For this purpose, he needs experimentals results involving people going through a test where they have to associate words with categories.
(The subject is presented with a succession of words and he has to choose whether the word belong to cat A or cat B by pressing 'E' or 'I' respectively)

Since his lab refused to purchase a licence fom the software that allows to pass such tests, he asked me if creating the software from scrach would be possible.

I spend 2 evenings writing a prototype. Then we met and managed to replicate the software UI quite exactly, for fun.
The result is ~300LoC of Python3/tkinter (including a lot of comment + strings in french and english) so not much of a challenge.

My question is
: What are the legal implications doing this?
From the results I gathered, I can't seem to draw a clear answer for my case.
- The protocol of the test comes from scientific articles, so We are in fact implementing a scientific protocol.
- My program doesn't reuse the original's software API. You provide a small .csv containing the test, and results are spat out in another .csv. Quite basic.
- The UI is identical, for the sake of it. I could change colors, font, etc maybe?
- My program is FOSS (GPL3'ed)
- So far I not making profit from my program. Maybe I could sell support for it (port it as a webapp, port it to macos, etc...)?

I consider that any program used to create scientific results should be open-source. Peer review, you know...
Does any of you have any experience with such matters? Cloning an existing software?

Thank you.

TL;DR: I cloned a proprietary software's UI that allows to run psychological tests. My version is FOSS. What are the risks?

Last edited by Funkygoby; 6th June 2018 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 6th June 2018
Beastie Beastie is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: /dev/earth0
Posts: 335

You won't find any definite answer anywhere on the Internet. It all depends on your specific case (whether that particular user interface, implementation, etc. are patented or not). So go check with a patent attorney. I wish you good luck.
May the source be with you!
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