Do I have any intellectual property protection for my software?


As soon as you put finger to keypad and develop your code you have some intellectual property (IP)protection for your software in the form of copyright.

Copyright protects your artistic side

Traditionally, copyright is seen as something that protects artistic works like the text of a novel, a director’s new film, or a band’s new album. However, like a new novel, the code of a new software application is also protected by copyright.

Copyright will protect against competitors copying a whole or substantial part of your code. In software, this is of most value to stop black market software sales.

It provides little protection against competitors taking the essence of your software and programming it in their own way. This is because software protects against copying of the whole or a substantial part of it.

The first point here is that you have to be able to prove that there has been copying. This is often tricky. If you’ve included redundant code in your software then the existence of this in a competitor’s product could be useful evidence of copying. This is one good reason to incorporate some intentionally redundant code.

You also have to show that it is a whole or a part of the software that has been copied. So if just a certain aspect of your code has been taken, copyright might not help you much.

Given the limitations of copyright protection for software it is always worthwhile considering what registered rights can help you protect your software. In short, you can protect aspects of your software with IP rights.

Patents protect your technical innovation

Patents can be used to protect aspects of the way your software works. Particularly if your software provides some technological advancements.

The look of your software GUI or icons may be protected by a registered design.

The value of a name

Trade marks can be used to protect the name of your software and any associated logos or icons, including distinctive GUI icons.

So in short, you should have some basic protection for your software without having to do anything, but it is always best to think about all of your options and take steps to protect your software in the best way possible.

Answer last updated: 17 Jan 2018