The most important form of software protection is copyright. This is because it is source code, which is a trade secret. Copyright is the sole right to produce or reproduce a work. It protects expression of the idea. Works can be articles, graphic design, music, photographs, data, books, or website design. Copyright exists with originality, which is the exercise of creativity and diligence. The second requirement is fixation. In other words, it must be expressed in a material form, such as a video or a book.
Employment is an exception to the rule that the author owns the work. If someone is employed to create a work of art or a book, that person’s employer is the owner of the copyright. Contractors should assign all rights, title and interest to the material to the owner to transfer the ownership. This comes into play where a website is owned. The business copy of a website, if prepared by a contractor, is owned by the contractor until it is assigned by agreement.
Moral rights give the artist the right to the integrity of the work. If someone designs a logo for your company, then the author is under the assumption it will be used for that specific purpose. You cannot later modify it, and use it for another purpose without express written permission. Copyright exists for the life of the author and seventy years in the U.S. Therefore it accrues to the estate, after the author passes away.
Copyright protection is automatic. It is not a requirement to register, but in the U.S. it’s an advantage since this will benefit by allowing statutory damages for infringement. Fair Use is an exception for copyright. If you are reporting on a news basis, or an educational basis, it is normally covered by Fair Use.
Trademarks are used to indicate the origin of goods or services. They can be words, designs, sounds or a combination of colors. Trademarks have a brand value. Consumers make decisions on the basis of trademarks. Statutory rights occur under registration.
The first person to use the trademark in commerce, or the first person to register is, is the owner. This is the cornerstone of trademark rights. By putting a trademark brand image onto the product, you are using the trademark. A trademark requires distinctiveness. It can’t be confusing with the marks of a competitor. Registration is country by country except in the European Union, where you immediately get 27 states.
Use non-disclosure agreements before proceeding with the patent process. Patents can be licensed for royalty streams. If your company is seeking an angel investor, one of the questions you’ll have to answer is what are the barriers to entry for your competitors? Patents are the solution. They provide a lead time for you to get to market ahead of competitors.
A patent has to be new; it has to be useful; it has to be unique and novel. The first publishing of an invention, for example in a journal, is a requirement. If there is competition, the first to publish meets the requirements. Games, software and business methods can be patented. For example, a method of hedging bets in a commodity field was allowed a patent claim.
Trade secrets are more difficult to enforce than patents. They have immediate affect and involve no registration costs. A customer list or a manufacturing process is an example of a trade secret.
In Canada, the Amazon Company used the one-click method on their website, and they received a patent for their novelty and inventiveness. A narrative describing the process is the basis for the application. A patent search is critical before filing a patent.
In summary, I would say that this was an excellent presentation video and it completely covered all of the main points of intellectual property law from the basis of the small business owner. The explanations and points were in plain English and easy to follow and understand.