Software and Intellectual Property (IP) are two sides of the same coin. In the software industry, IP relates to a host of ownership rights relating to software. Under the law, there are different methods of protecting these ownership rights. When it comes to software, IP relates to patents, copyrights, trademarks and copyright.
What is Intellectual Property and why is it important for software?
Intellectual Property relates to creations of the mind. They include inventions, artistic works, designs, symbols and names. The law protects IP through patents, copyrights, trademarks and designs. It helps the owner get recognition and financial benefits for their creation. The main goal of IP is to foster creativity and innovation.
Innovation in the tech industry is important to individuals and businesses alike. Intellectual Property protects such innovative software or codes. As a result, the owner of the software has control over their product. Otherwise there may be misuse of the software which may result in monetary and other losses to the owner.
Software protection through IP
No single IP protects the entire software. For instance, both copyright and patent offer legal protection. Yet, each serve a different purpose. Some owners may decide to protect only a part of their software while others may go for all. For example one may choose to trademark the name of the software. This will protect the owner from someone else using the same name for a software. But, it will not protect the owner, if someone else decided to use the same software code. Here are some ways IP offers protection to software:
1. Copyright: A copyright grants various protection to the owner. It gives the owner the right to make copies of the software code.
The owner can sell any copies of the copyrighted software code. It also allows the owner to make a second software that uses a lot of the original code. Moreover, a copyright registration is easy to get.
2. Patent: A patent in a software protects the function of a software. The owner of a software can get either a utility or a design patent. A utility patent protects the function of the software. As the name suggests, a design patent protects the decorative part of the software. Getting a patent registered is not an easy task and may take years to receive the patent grant.
3. Trademark: A trademark is useful in protecting the name of a software, logo, slogan or tagline. They help build the brand of the software and prevent third parties from misusing the reputation of the owner’s brand. The owner should take the help of a trademark attorney to ensure the mark is protected and unique.
We have established that IP is an indispensable tool when it comes to protecting a software. Before one makes a software public, one must seek the help of a good lawyer to know about the rights and secure protection. The owner as a precaution must follow the best data security practices. This will ensure that the owner’s work is not leaked into public before securing the necessary protection.