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Any professional is potentially going to be tempted to make it into something bigger. As a minimum, they are motivated to generate work for themselves. In the limit, they could have liability exposure if they fail to protect you.
While I'm sure many lawyers may act that way, there are also many who will simply review the facts quickly, then give you a quick and dirty explanation of what your liable for, then move on. Don't be too afraid of lawyers.
First of all the way patents are granted differ from country to country plus this is a highly complex issue you couldn't possibly clear up with a couple of posts.
here's a link to an outdated paper from Mr. Winischofer - the one with the SIS graphics driver (he seems to be a lawyer,too). Unfortunately it's in german only but the size is telling....
Distribution: Debian Wheezy/Jessie/Sid, Linux Mint DE
What exactly are they accusing you for? Copy the code or copy the algorithms? That make a huge difference.
AFAIK, certain algorithms can be copyrighted, like MP3 encoding was copyrighted by the German Fraunhofer institute. However since at least some work has been done funded by the EU there migh have been obligations regarding dissimination of results, which makes the algorithms available to everyone. This has not necessarily to be true, but at least rules had to be recorded at the time of the project, and those rules and decisions are publicly available.
If you didn't copy the code, there is no copyright issue. I think there is a huge difference in jurisdiction between the EU and the USA.
I would think so. While both Italy and Germany are EU members, there are still a lot of legal matters that are decided on a national level rather than the European one. For example, the whole copyright/drm issue is still very much a national issue. It only makes things more complicated.