Discover how trademark, patent, and software law can help small business, entrepreneurs, and inventors. Check my blog for questions and answers.

Software Law: Busting 4 Myths

Software is odd. Creating the first copy costs hours, days and weeks of programmer time. Creating the second copy costs seconds of computer time. After a single copy is distributed publicly, the developer begins to give up physical control. Unfair competition is prevented by the software intellectual property rights. Software IP rights can prevent copying of software ideas and software code.
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On this page...
  1. Developing a Software Idea
  2. 4 Myths of Software Law
  3. 7 Benefits of Copyright Registration

Developing a software idea: Costly first copy, Free forevermore {#software-idea}

Why do software developers fail to obtain the strongest possible intellectual property rights for their software? Software developers expend tremendous time and energy to create great user experiences, bug-free programs, efficiency benefits, or stellar features. The software's intellectual property prevents competition from unfairly copying these efforts. Many software developers believe myths about software rights, and, fail to act.

Four Myths and Misunderstandings held by Software Developers {#software-law-myths}

Four prevailing myths among software developers cause them to fail to act before problems arise.

  1. Many believe that copyright happens automatically, so they fail to register software copyrights.
  2. Many believe software patents are undesirable, difficult to obtain, or require significant innovation, so they fail to file software patents.
  3. Many believe that they own the software that they pay an outside developer to write, so they fail to document software ownership.
  4. Finally, many believe litigation against an obviously unfair competitor will be straightforward, so they fail to act in preparation of litigation.

They write software, release it to the public, and hope for the best.

Software rights obtained before public distribution can be more easily enforced against unfair competition.

Software developers need to know the best time to act: before releasing the software to the public. The strongest copyright benefits only occur after registration at the US Copyright Office. Informal software patent applications can be affordable during the first year with the right legal strategy. Software ownership issues can be identified and resolved before sending final payment to outside developers.

By preparing the proper legal documentation, modifying the source code, registering the software copyright, and filing the software patent applications, you can:

  1. Prove ownership by recorded title at the US Copyright Office and US Patent Office.
  2. Claim your software invention and protect your software ideas.
  3. Discourage copying with "statutory damages" available only after registration.
  4. Prevent competition for your software ideas with a software patent pending.
  5. Enhance the economic value of the software.
  6. Efficiently police your software rights and keep competition fair.
  7. Enforce your software rights in US Federal Court.

The Law Office of Andrew P. Lahser focuses on software law. This focus allows efficient and effective preparation of software patent applications and software copyright registrations.

Can I apply for a software patent before I write source code?

Policing & Enforcing Software Infringement