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Software Protection Basics

The protection of computer software by the law is a multi-million pound business. This law-byte sets out the very, very basics, of such protection. It is intended for the absolute beginner, and lists the various ways of beginning to protect software

What is protectedHow ObtainedCostLength of protection
CopyrightThe text and layouts you create. Anything which can be seen to be copied.Automatic when reduced to semi-permanent form Nil, save for steps to establish provenance.Life of author, plus 70 years
PatentsThe underlying idea. It must be novel, not have been published previously, and produce a technical effect. By Registration. Often expensive, but not as expensive as not doing it. Several thousands of pounds, but not so much to start.Twenty years, subject to renewals
ConfidentialityEverything, but only weaklyBy keeping it secret from the start, and disclosing it only under conditions of secrecy.Agreement costs - smallAs long as you can keep it secret. Not long.
Trade MarksThe name and packaging style of the productRegistration. Several hundreds, unless and until challengedPermanent if you keep trading and paying the fees.
Database Right Information in your database. The protection is less than full copyright. Automatic Nil Life plus 70

The protection of software is vital and subtle, and requires to be planned in advance. Far too often wonderful software prove to have nil value because the contractual arrangements under which it was written are inadequate. Nobody will buy what you cannot sell.

Important: Please note that our law-bytes are retained for archival purposes only. The law changes, and these notes are often, now, out of date. You must take direct advice on your own personal situation and the law as it currently stands.
All information on this site is in general and summary form only. The content of any page on this site may be out of date and or incomplete, and you should not not rely directly upon it. Take direct professional legal advice which reflects your own particular situation.
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Copyright and Database Rights: David Swarbrick 2012
18 October 2013 http://www.swarb.co.uk/lawb/ipCompProtBasics.shtml 191 18 October 2013