How do I protect my intellectual property rights for software?



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Question:

I recently created software and am looking to sell it.  What can I do to protect my intellectual property rights?

Answer:

Intellectual property rights are a bundle of exclusive rights over creations of the mind, both artistic and commercial. Specifically, intellectual property rights refers to a range of intangible rights of ownership in an asset.  In your case, this asset would be your software.

In general, there are four main types of intellectual property rights relevant to software: patents, copyrights, trade secrets and trademarks. Each affords a different type of legal protection. Patents, copyrights and trade secrets can be used to protect the technology itself. 

For any new invention, a patent may be granted which gives the patent holder a right to prevent others from practicing the invention without a license from the inventor for a certain period of time.  Copyright laws give the copyright holder exclusive right to control reproduction or adaptation of such works for a certain period of time.  A trade secret is any formula or process that is not generally known or discoverable by others and is protected by maintained secrecy by its owner.

Finally,  trademark might also be used because it is a distinctive sign which is used to prevent confusion among products in the marketplace. Moving forward, please consult with a Technology Law Lawyer to determine the proper steps to take for your case.

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