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Intellectual Property / Copyright Registration

Dear Group

Sory for posting this here. Hope it's not too off-topic but thought
that someone minght know about.

Can you give tips about intellectual property / copyright registration
for software? I've written an app and would like to protect it.

I'm not a paperwork person nor legal minded person so any
plain-english enlightment regarding what I must do, what options I've,
costs etc are very appreciated. I had a look around but it's like
webhosting - there are many businesses providing these services but
how do I know any of them is good?

It's a small app with some potential but not worth spending £10.000 on
legal fees. I'm based in the UK and would like to protect it for
Europe/U.S.

Any estimates how much this will cost and how long it will take?

Thanks very much for sharing your wisdom!

Martin
Nov 20 '05 #1
1 2041
I can only relate facts regarding the U.S. copyright law, and you should be
aware that copyright protection can vary from country to country. However,
as a general rule, all nations who are members of the WTO have a similar
agreement over copyright law and respect each others copyrights, though
dispute arbitration methods and considerations can also vary.

In short, copyright is a protection that is automatically granted as soon as
your work attains a tangible form, which can be seen/heard by others. That's
it. There's nothing else to do to gain copyright protection. However, in
order to get certain awards and damage compensations, some countries still
require the copyright notice to be attached to your work. In the states,
it's as simple as "Copyright <year of publication> <name of copyright
owner>". Some countries (though not the U.S.) require terms of reservation,
which is why you often see the phrase "All rights reserved." immediately
after the copyright notice.

In the U.S., you can also register a copyright with the US Copyright Office.
It costs about $30 USD plus other optional fees depending on the state of
origin and other services. This is not necessary for copyright protection,
it merely creates a public record in case of dispute, and this public record
is considered prima facie evidence. Some countries require a public
registration for certain awards and damage compensations in case of a
dispute.

So, getting a copyright is the easy part. The difficult part is what happens
in case of a dispute. The court considers the worth of your material (as in,
some work is more deserving of protection than others), the extent of
infringement, whether or not the offender used your material under "fair
use" conditions, and finally, how damaging the infringment was to your
work's ability to generate future income. This is all "fuzzy" and left to
quite a bit of interpretation by the arbitrator.

Secondly, copyright doesn't protect ideas, systems, facts, or methods of
operations. It can protect how you "express" them in a tangible form. If you
have a new idea or invention, you'll need to register for a patent, which
grants you certain rights to your invention. Most programs fall somewhere in
between. They are systems, and they "might" have new inventions or ideas in
them. Because of that, you cannot copyright your software ideas, only the
way in which you put it all together as a "work". Someone has to
substantially rip off your program to violate the copyright, but it does
allow you to sue people making illegal copies of the original. By the same
token, you cannot typically patent software programs, only new inventions or
ideas that might be implemented in them. When appropriate, i recommend both.
Finally, so someone doesn't rip off your brand or title, and in essence
profit for free from your work and expense in establishing that brand (not
to mention ciphon income from you by fraudulently using your brand and
tricking your customer base), you should trademark these names and titles.
Names and titles are not protected by copyright.

In parting, I have to state that i'm no lawer, and this information is
provided as-is, with no guarantees :-)
If you have any questions, you should visit your country's copyright office.
They typically provide lots of information right on the web.

-Rob Teixeira [MVP]

"Martin" <th************ @hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:72******** *************** ***@posting.goo gle.com...
Dear Group

Sory for posting this here. Hope it's not too off-topic but thought
that someone minght know about.

Can you give tips about intellectual property / copyright registration
for software? I've written an app and would like to protect it.

I'm not a paperwork person nor legal minded person so any
plain-english enlightment regarding what I must do, what options I've,
costs etc are very appreciated. I had a look around but it's like
webhosting - there are many businesses providing these services but
how do I know any of them is good?

It's a small app with some potential but not worth spending £10.000 on
legal fees. I'm based in the UK and would like to protect it for
Europe/U.S.

Any estimates how much this will cost and how long it will take?

Thanks very much for sharing your wisdom!

Martin

Nov 20 '05 #2

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