Intellectual property rights and software

This article proposes to answer: what is an intellectual property right? We will explore related topics such as: non-disclosure agreements, a brief overview of intellectual property ownership, and options if commercializing your intellectual property (IP) is not possible.

Meaning of intellectual property rights

To be with, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is a term that applies to the legal protection afforded to innovative and creative works. The intention is to allow the CIO owner to benefit from using their idea to encourage innovation.

It is important to note that improving an idea that already exists, modifying a work or having an idea that is not transformed into something tangible (for example, a drawing or a photograph) is probably not protected by intellectual property. For something to be protected by IPRs, it must be original, something new.

Since intellectual property (IP) is an abstract concept, the best way to think about IPRs is to think of them as goods that can be bought or sold. Owning intellectual property rights gives the owner certain ownership rights for a period of time.

Finally, IPR legislation has evolved over the years and each country has its own IP law – this article only covers the UK. Additionally, as intellectual property law continues to evolve, this article is intended as an introduction to intellectual property and is not meant to substitute for legal advice.

If you need more specific information please consult Gov.uk, WIPO or if you need legal advice please consult a qualified professional who can help you further.

The essential categories of IPR are:

  • Copyright
  • Patent
  • Design rights
  • Trademarks

In addition, there are other forms of intellectual property rights protection, including:

  • Database rights
  • Internet domain names.

Step One: Non-Disclosure Agreement

Before discussing your IP with anyone, it is important that you have them sign a non-disclosure agreement or sometimes called a confidentiality agreement. This will prevent you from developing the same IP address and competing in the market with it.

Copyright and overview of intellectual property rights

UK intellectual property law recognizes that copyright covers original creative material in many forms, including writing, music, art and photographs. Other non-original works such as sound recordings, films and broadcasts may also be covered.

Copyright is automatically conferred at the time of creation and is not registered in the UK and regardless of medium a copyright covers the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. same.

As a general rule, © along with the owner’s name and year of creation is usually sufficient to indicate that the work is copyrighted. Typically, a copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus 50 years, or 25 years for a photograph.

With respect to software, keeping software on a computer will usually require the software to be copied – perhaps from the machine it was created on or from storage media.

This requires the consent of the copyright holder. Running software on a computer may require it to be copied to the machine. The consent of the copyright holder is also required.

Typically, these permissions are granted in a license agreement between the copyright holder and the user of the software. But if someone gets a pirated copy of software, transferring it to a computer may infringe copyright.

Understand the patent

A patent applies to an invention and confers on its holder the monopoly of the exploitation of the invention for a limited period. Obtaining a patent can require a substantial investment of time and money. Before applying for a patent, it is advisable to speak with an expert in intellectual property rights, who can advise you and of course, before discussing anything, make sure that a non-disclosure agreement is signed .

For a patent, the invention must be new and inventive, that is to say, it must involve a creative process that does not arise from current knowledge. The invention must also have an industrial application.

Under current law, computer programs are not patentable (see Section 1(2)(c) of the Patents Act 1977). A program can only be patented if, when executed, it produces a “technical effect greater than that which would necessarily result from the simple execution of any program on a computer”.

For example, a new machine tool should be patentable, but a non-technological invention such as grammar checking software for a word processor should not. The government also indicates that “the law is not clear enough” and that “urgent European action for clarification is necessary”.

For the author, the decisive factor is the role played by the software. In the machine tool, it can be assumed that the software is an intrinsic part of the operation without which the equipment would not be functional.

Thus, a real-time control system that enables an invention to work and is therefore part of that invention would seem potentially patentable. We await clarification.

When a patent is possible, it must be applied for and approved by the Patent Office. Ownership is similar to copyright in that the patent is granted to the inventor unless discovered in the ordinary course of employment, in which case it is granted to the employer.

A patent may be assigned or licensed to third parties by the owner.

Design rights

Design rights can be unregistered or registered. An unregistered design right prohibits third parties from reproducing or copying the design of a product for a period varying from 3 to 15 years. The reproduction does not have to be exact.