Our attorneys have experience in preparing and prosecuting copyright applications for software code and software-related objects such as icons and graphical user interfaces (GUIs) as well as websites. We have successfully litigated a variety of software copyright issues, including ownership and alleged infringement of copyrights in software, and other related works. Our software attorneys have handled over 150 disputes involving software copyrights and software licenses.
There are numerous different strategies available for protecting software. We offer a comprehensive range of services dealing with the development, protection, distribution, and use of software. Our attorneys advise clients on a wide variety of issues, including:
- Software copyright ownership and rights;
- Licensing software;
- Click-wrap agreements for software products;
- Works-for-hire and developer agreements;
- Joint software-creation arrangements;
- Patenting rights and software patents;
- Stopping software piracy;
- Software license agreements;
- Independent contractor and work made for hire agreements;
- Electronic media and conduits;
- Internet applications and distribution;
- Software compliance/auditing; and
One of the best ways to protect rights in software is to obtain copyright registration. A software copyright application should be filed as soon as possible and before publication of the software to maximize protection. The Copyright Office rules allow for filing of only 50 pages of code in redacted format to maintain as much secrecy in the code as possible. One of the reasons a software copyright is so valuable is that the Copyright Act provides for the recovery of attorney fees for the prevailing plaintiff. However, if the software owner does not obtain copyright registration before the infringement begins, the owner likely cannot recover attorney's fees. A software owner should be careful to ensure that it has written employment agreements with its employees and independent contractors to ensure that the company owns all copyrights in the software developed by employees and independent contractors. Contact us to discuss obtaining a software copyright or other protection.
In addition to a software copyright, novel and useful methods and processes incorporated into software can be protected through a software patent. The software patent process is more expensive and generally takes more time than the software copyright process, but the software patent protection can often times be broader. A software copyright generally extends only to the code. An issued software patent provides the owner with the right to stop others from making, using, offering for sale, and selling the patented software process or method. Where applicable, we often recommend that our clients seek software patent protection to maximize the value of their software development investment. Please contact us to discuss protecting your software through patent law. We will likely recommend that you obtain a patent search as a first step.
A software licensing agreement is another step -- beyond a software copyright or software patent -- to protect the value of software. Most commercial software is sold via a software license as opposed to an outright sale. This allows the software owner to avoid the application of the first sale doctrine and gives more control and limitation over how the end user uses the software. We have experience drafting End User License Agreements (EULAs), click wrap and shrink wrap agreements, software development agreements, and other software license agreements. If you have any questions about software licensing, please contact us today.
We have handled over 150 software piracy disputes on behalf of software copyright owners. The Copyright Act provides for injunctive relief against software pirates as well as actual damages, statutory damages, and attorney's fees. One of the best ways to stop software piracy is to aggressively pursue it through an injunction. However, for the reasons discussed above, the first step is ensuring that a proper software copyright is obtained before releasing the software to the public. Any questions about obtaining a software copyright or software piracy? Contact us today.
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