Effective communication and knowledge sharing are key components of successful civilizations. With the introduction of new technologies, information can be quickly and efficiently distributed to a wider audience. Therefore, your software’s intellectual property is at risk of being exploited. It is important to protect the software’s intellectual property after the significant effort and resources invested in its development. It would be a shame for someone to benefit financially from your unique programme concept without due recompense.
In this article, we will discuss five strategies to safeguard your software’s intellectual property. To begin, let us define intellectual property and its various formats.
Definition of Intellectual Property
Intellectual property (IP) refers to any unique asset or resource belonging to your organization which has practical value to others. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) describes IP as “mental creations”. Examples of IP include artwork and designs, website content, blog posts, inventions, articles, brand names, product names, company names, software, and any other distinctive materials owned by the business.
Whoever produces works that are entirely original, which have been developed through the utilization of the creator’s own ingenuity, are awarded intellectual property rights. Certain forms of intellectual property, such as copyright, are inherently protected by law. However, for others, legal protection will not be granted unless certain privileges are granted by the government.
Intellectual Property: Various Forms
Trademarks (10 Years) (10 Years)
Companies are encouraged to register trademarks for any combination of words, logos, slogans, or sounds associated with their product or service. Doing so helps to secure ownership of their original concepts and is a respected practice for businesses.
Patents (20 years) (20 years)
Obtaining a patent for your software is an effective way to ensure that you maintain ownership of your invention and protect it from unauthorized usage. Once the patent has been granted, you will have the sole right to produce and distribute the software. Others may only use it after obtaining a license from you.
Copyright protection (for author’s lifetime plus 50 years).
Creative works such as songs, books, poetry and movies may benefit from copyright protection. It is important to note that copyright does not protect the underlying idea, but instead safeguards the expression of the idea. Although copyright may exist without registration, it is necessary to register with a copyright office to ensure that your work is protected against infringement and to be able to pursue legal action if required.
Marketable Confidential Information
Trade secrets are confidential methods, formulae, tools or information that give a company an advantage over its competitors. The legal framework governing this area is generally managed by the state. To safeguard a proprietary technique or piece of information, a company must demonstrate that it would confer a substantial economic benefit.
For What Reasons Is Software Considered an Intangible Asset?
Software is an integral part of modern businesses. In fact, many organizations rely heavily on the software they produce and distribute. Software, like other creative products such as ideas, artwork and books, is the outcome of a creative concept or process that seeks to address an issue. Therefore, it is essential that your organization takes measures to safeguard the software it develops.
The author of software has a responsibility to safeguard their creation against piracy in a society where almost everyone uses some kind of software.
Methods for Safeguarding Your Software’s Intellectual Property.
Developing a successful commercial product takes considerable effort and resources from talented individuals. To ensure your concept is not stolen by a rival business, it is essential to protect your product from potential theft. Whilst it is necessary to make the product accessible to the public, you may be concerned about the potential for it to be targeted once it is available on store shelves. Therefore, it is important to ensure the originality and value of your software is safeguarded.
These five methods of securing your software’s intellectual property are mandated by US law.
Create a Trademark, Patent, and Copyright Application
According to the United States Office of Copyright Management, copyright is a form of legal protection that is granted to creators of original works. This applies to code as a form of authorship, whereby the creator’s rights are immediately protected upon the creation of the work.
Getting your name in the books is essential as well. Your company will be able to take required legal action with this information in hand.
The United States is a signatory to the majority of international copyright treaties, meaning that registration of your copyright will be recognized on a global scale. Registering your copyright affords you the right to take legal action against any individual or entity that infringes upon your copyright and utilizes your intellectual property without permission.
Brand Names (R)
In the United States, trademarks are utilized to protect any term, phrase, symbol or design that is used to distinguish one company’s products or services from another’s.
A company’s marketing and branding kit will typically include a range of terms, phrases, symbols, and graphics that help to promote the company and establish its identity.
It is possible to register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) via their website. The process of registering a trademark can be complex, so it is advisable to seek the advice of a professional.
Typically, trademarks do not expire. Obtaining an official Section Eight Declaration may be beneficial in confirming whether the Intellectual Property is still in use.
Conferring a Registered Mark (®) on a Patent
It is recommended to obtain a patent if your software provides a unique solution. A patent is a legally binding document that safeguards an invention or discovery by preventing any other party from reproducing or selling your creation without first obtaining a license from you.
Applying for a patent with the USPTO online is an effective way of protecting the intellectual property of your software invention. To ensure your software is patented correctly, it is important to select the patent method which best suits your needs.
In the United States, the duration of protection provided by a patent can vary from 15 to 20 years, depending on the type of patent. For software Intellectual Property patents, it may be possible to extend this period of protection beyond the stated timeframe.
Have All Employees and Business Partners Sign Nondisclosure Agreements
It is essential to ensure the protection of intellectual property by having all developers, partners and any other parties involved in the development of the program sign a non-disclosure agreement.
You can get your staff and your partners to sign a confidentiality agreement if you:
- Confidentiality Agreement (NDA)
- Confidentiality Accord (SA)
- Contract Regarding Confidential Information (PIA)
- Agreement for Protected Disclosure (CDA)
In order to permit other entities to utilize, brand and distribute your software, it may be necessary to enter into a licensing agreement with them. In this situation, you are able to select the terms of service.
Enter into an IP Assignment Contract with the Builders
It is recommended that the creators of your intellectual property sign an IP assignment agreement, confirming that the firm holds the ownership of all intellectual property generated as part of the project.
It is essential to protect your intellectual property from being accessed by unauthorized parties (such as competitors) or misused by yourself. To ensure that confidential information remains secure, it is advisable to execute an IP assignment agreement with all developers working on a software project. This will guarantee that the developer is not working on a project for a rival business while your company’s confidential data is still undisclosed.
Research Licenses for Open-Source Software
The licensee is granted a non-exclusive, non-transferable license to use the programme only when the developers employ a source code license. The software licensee has the freedom to make alterations and utilize the programme, which may make the source code vulnerable as it is no longer a confidential matter.
An escrow service can be utilized to protect the source code of a software license. This allows for a neutral third party to retain the program’s details, thus providing security for all parties involved. This ensures that the source code is safeguarded and the requirements of the licensee are met.
Raise Workers’ Awareness of Intellectual Property
It is crucial to protect your company’s intellectual property if it is kept in a system that might be accessed over the internet.
In order to protect your intellectual property, it is important to implement stringent safety measures within your business’s IT infrastructure. To ensure maximum security, measures should go beyond simply encrypting data; the following steps can be taken:
- Protect all networks and systems with robust passwords.
- Set up WPA2 Wi-Fi Security (WPA2)
- Make Use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
- Obtain Trustworthy Safety Equipment
- Updating software to the newest version adds the latest security patches.
- Create a Plan B (DRP)
- Consistently educate your staff on the importance of preventing intellectual property breaches by having them participate in awareness training.
Confidently Own All Rights to Your Own Original Software Intellectual Property
Developing software can be a complex process. There is a risk that your creative ideas and designs could be subject to theft, and then be used by another company to achieve success. To ensure the security of your software’s intellectual property, it is recommended to select a reputable development team. Taking the necessary steps to protect your software’s intellectual property is essential, even if your concept is not particularly innovative or groundbreaking.
You are aware that Marconi did not create the radio, correct?