There Are 5 Methods to Safeguard Your Software’s Originality

Communication and information sharing have always been essential for thriving societies. Thanks to technological advancements, disseminating information to a larger audience has become rapid and seamless. However, this increased accessibility also implies potential vulnerability and the risk of compromising your software’s intellectual property. After pouring so much resources and effort into developing your software, it is vital to safeguard its intellectual property. You wouldn’t want someone else to take advantage of your novel programme concept without commensurate compensation.

This blog post will outline five effective tactics you can employ to protect your software’s intellectual property. Firstly, let us establish what intellectual property is and the different forms it can take.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) comprises any distinctive resource or asset owned by your company which holds practical value for others. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), IP is defined as “creations of the mind”. Some examples of IP include website content, blog articles, artwork and designs, product names, brand names, company names, inventions, software and any other unique assets belonging to the business.

Individuals who produce entirely unique works that have been developed through their own creativity are eligible for intellectual property rights. Some forms of intellectual property, like copyright, are inherently protected by law. However, others may not be granted legal protection unless specific privileges are provided by the government.

Types of Intellectual Property

Trademarks (valid for 10 Years)

Businesses are advised to register trademarks for any combination of slogans, logos, sounds or words linked with their product or service. Doing so helps to establish ownership of their original ideas and it is considered a best practice for businesses.

Patents (valid for 20 years)

Securing a patent for your software is a reliable method to safeguard your ownership of the invention and defend it against unauthorised usage. Once the patent has been granted, you will be the sole party entitled to manufacture and distribute the software. Others can only benefit from it by obtaining a license from you.

Copyright Protection (Lasts for Author’s Lifetime Plus 50 Years)

Copyright protection may be applicable to creative works like movies, songs, books and poetry. It is important to note that copyright does not safeguard the core idea, but instead it protects the expression of the idea. Though it is likely for copyright to exist without registration, it is essential to register with a copyright office to ensure protection against infringement and to be able to take legal action if required.

Confidential Information with Commercial Value

Trade secrets refer to confidential formulae, methods, tools or information that provide a company with a competitive edge. The legislative framework governing this area is primarily managed by the state. To safeguard a confidential method or piece of information, a company must prove that it provides a notable economic benefit.

Why Is Software Regarded as an Intangible Asset?

Software has become a significant aspect of contemporary businesses. In reality, many organizations depend significantly on the software they make and distribute. Similar to other creative products like books, ideas and artwork, software is the result of a creative process or concept that aims to tackle a problem. Hence, it is crucial for your organization to take steps to protect the software it produces.

In a society where nearly everyone uses some sort of software, it is the responsibility of the software author to protect their creation against piracy.

Approaches to Protecting Your Software’s Intellectual Property

Creating a prosperous commercial product entails considerable effort and resources from skilled individuals. To ensure that your concept is not stolen by a competing company, it is imperative to safeguard your product from potential theft. Although it is necessary to make the product widely available to the public, you may be anxious about its potential vulnerability once it is accessible on store shelves. Thus, it is vital to ensure that the novelty and value of your software are protected.

US law requires these five approaches to be used for securing your software’s intellectual property.

File Applications for Trademarks, Patents and Copyrights

Secure Work

As per the United States Office of Copyright Management, copyright is a type of legal protection granted to authors of unique works. This also extends to code as a type of authorship, whereby the author’s rights are automatically safeguarded upon the creation of the work.

It is also imperative to get your name registered as the author. Having this information at your disposal will enable your organization to take necessary legal action.

As a signatory to numerous international copyright treaties, the United States recognizes the registration of your copyright on a global level. Registering your copyright grants you the authority to take legal measures against anyone or any entity that violates your copyright by using your intellectual property without permission.

Brand Names (®)

Within the United States, trademarks are employed to safeguard any term, phrase, symbol or design that is utilized to differentiate a company’s products or services from those of another.

A company’s marketing and branding package usually contains a variety of terms, phrases, symbols, and graphics that aid in its promotion and identification.

You can register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) via their website. As the process of registering a trademark can be intricate, it is recommended to seek the guidance of a professional.

Trademarks ordinarily do not have an expiration date. However, obtaining an official Section Eight Declaration can be advantageous in ascertaining if the Intellectual Property is still being utilized.

Assigning a Registered Mark (®) to a Patent

If your software provides a distinctive solution, it is advisable to obtain a patent. A patent is a legally enforceable document that protects an invention or discovery by prohibiting any other party from duplicating or selling your creation without first acquiring a license from you.

Submitting a patent application with the USPTO online is a reliable way of safeguarding the intellectual property of your software invention. To ensure that your software is correctly patented, it is crucial to choose the patent method that best suits your requirements.

In the United States, the length of protection offered by a patent may differ, ranging from 15 to 20 years, depending on the type of patent. For software Intellectual Property patents, it may be feasible to increase this period of protection beyond the specified timeframe.

Require Nondisclosure Agreements be Signed by all Employees and Business Partners

To safeguard intellectual property, it is crucial to have all developers, partners, and any other parties involved in the program’s development sign a non-disclosure agreement.

If you need your staff and partners to keep confidential information private, you can have them sign a confidentiality agreement.

  • Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA)
  • Secrecy Agreement (SA)
  • Agreement for Confidential Information (PIA)
  • Agreement for Confidential Disclosure (CDA)

To allow other entities to use, label and distribute your software, you may need to enter into a licensing agreement with them. In such a scenario, you have the freedom to choose the terms of service.

Sign an IP Assignment Contract with the Developers

It is advisable that the creators of your intellectual property sign an IP assignment agreement, officially stating that the company retains ownership of all intellectual property produced as a part of the project.

Protecting your intellectual property from unauthorized access by competitors or even yourself is crucial. To keep confidential information secure, it is recommended to have an IP assignment agreement signed by all developers working on a software project. This way, you can ensure that the developers are not working on a project for any competing business while your company’s confidential information remains undisclosed.

Explore Licenses for Open-Source Software

With a source code license, the licensee is provided with a non-exclusive, non-transferable license to only use the software. This allows the software licensee to make changes and use the software, which could make the source code vulnerable since it is no longer confidential.

To safeguard the source code of a software license, an escrow service can be employed. This involves a neutral third-party holding onto the details of the program and providing security for all parties involved. It guarantees that the source code is protected while also meeting the needs of the licensee.

Educate Employees on Intellectual Property

Keeping your company’s intellectual property in a system accessible over the internet makes it crucial to protect it.

To safeguard your intellectual property, it is crucial to establish rigorous security measures within your organization’s IT infrastructure. To attain the highest level of protection, the precautions undertaken must go beyond data encryption. The subsequent steps can be taken:

  • Secure all networks and systems with strong passwords.
  • Configure WPA2 Wi-Fi Security (WPA2)
  • Utilize Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
  • Acquire Reliable Security Equipment
  • Upgrading to the latest software version incorporates the most recent security patches.
  • Develop a Backup Plan (DRP)
  • Regularly educate your employees on the significance of avoiding intellectual property infringements by enrolling them in awareness training.

Have Complete Ownership of Your Original Software’s Intellectual Property

The process of software development can be challenging. There is a possibility that your innovative ideas and designs could be stolen, and used by another company to achieve growth. Choosing a reliable development team is advised to guarantee your software’s intellectual property security. It is essential to take necessary precautions to safeguard your software’s intellectual property, even if your concept is not particularly original or revolutionary.

You are aware that Marconi was not the inventor of the radio, are you not?

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