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Intellectual property for software is defined as computer software or code under the protection of the law under a trademark, copyright, software patent, or trade secret.

The need for intellectual property for software

The intellectual property for software is essential since software innovation is of value to start-ups, individuals, and companies. There is no better way than using the law in protecting material such as software. In using the law as the means of protection, businesses and programmers treat software as intellectual property.

Treating your software as intellectual property enables you to have more control over the one who will use it and how it gets to the public. On the other hand, if it is not treated as intellectual property, people would use it without permission, and the chance to get paid when your software is used will be lost. There are extreme cases where you might even lose the right to use the software that you developed.

Defining intellectual property

IP (intellectual property) is a work piece that is not a tangible object. IP results typically from creativity and could be a formula, a manuscript, software, or a song. Under the law, IP is protected by copyrights, patents, trade secrets, and trademarks.

IP theft

Both individuals and businesses have challenges protecting their IP. Companies that have valuable IP such as software must watch out for stealing from their employees because this happens in most cases. Although there could occur theft from outside the company, it is not as often as from inside the business.

One way to ensure that the company IP is protected is by providing that the employees sign Non-disclosure Agreements. The second way is by restricting the access of the employees to IP, such as software in development. For more information on the IP theft and how to protect yourself against them, read Peter Toren’s book, “IP and Computer Crimes” from http://www.lawjournalpress.com/player/eBook_86_Intellectual_Property_and_Computer_Crimes.html

The other way of protecting your IP is by using the law. This protection means obtaining a patent, a trademark, or copyright. Then, if someone steals your property, you have legal grounds to prosecute them.

Copyright protection for software

The copyright law defines copyright as original authorship works fixed in any tangible expression medium. Therefore, the way you express an idea, like the software in code or a fictional work, falls under copyright law.

Copyright protects your work against word-for-word copying globally, and therefore, it is a good idea for legal purposes.

A copyright gives you specific rights in terms of your software. If you hold the copyright to software code, you have the rights to make copies, sell or give away, post or display, or make a derivative work of the software code.

You might be thinking that obtaining copyright protection is hard and expensive. This is not the case. Purchasing a copyright registration will cost you as little as $35 and take about four months.

Copyrights last for the lifetime of the copyright holder, and an additional of 70 years after the death of the owner. If you are copyrighting a work that you were hired to create, the copyright lasts for 95 years after publishing it, or 120 years after creating the work, whichever comes first.

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