Protection of computer software

Jan 062020

Filing of Intellectual Property has increased tremendously in the last few decades as the cases of infringements have increased drastically as well as people have become more aware towards such frauds. Businesses have now started to understand the value and need to protect Intellectual Property and have started to consult Patent Attorney in India frequently to understand their rights and the process involved in IP protection. Law is different for acquiring and filing intellectual property rights for different domains and knowing the process saves time, money and effort.

Information Technology is ruling the world at the moment. It has marked its foot steps from a small needle to a big machinery and has become a vital part of business whether it is small or big. Software Programs are an integral part of Information Technology without which it is nothing.

Need to protect computer software
Now the question arises that what is the need to protect computer software. Just like any other idea, product, thought and name, there can be infringements on computer software and somebody might falsely claim their rights on your software. You and your company have given your days and nights designing a particular software that solves a particular purpose and somebody claims his rights on it and take away all your time, money and effort in no time. This is the worst thing that can happen to you as an individual and as a company.

In order to protect your ideas to be stolen, you must protect your software well in advance so anybody who falsely claims their rights on your computer software is dealt with by the law and your idea is secured and safe. Once you are done with the designing of your software, you can visit the Patent Attorney in India and discuss about protecting Intellectual Property rights of your computer software and they will explain the process, cost involved and time required for the whole process. 

If you are thinking to file rights within the country, the cost and process will be different and if you are planning to file rights in other countries as well other than India, it will be a different process that will take some more time and cost involved would be more as compared to the rights filed locally. 

Different types of Intellectual Property Protection for Computer Software
As many of you must be knowing that applying for IP Protection has a process and there are different forms of IP Protection which you need to select based on your requirements. You can either apply for just one or all based on your needs and you will be charged accordingly. Different types of IP protection which are available for you to apply are discussed below

  1. Patent Protection :
    Patents are one of the most widely applied IP protections not only in India but across the world. Patents give you a protection exclusively for a period of 20 years which can obviously be extended later if you need. When it comes to filing patents for computer software, it is one of the most powerful tools to protect your software as compared to other forms of IP protection available by law. Patents protect features of a program and can be acquired for ideas, algorithms, systems, functions which are written for a particular software.

Penalties for patent infringement are strict and anyone who sells or uses the invention that is already patented without the consent of the patent owner is dealt with strictly by the law. Patents are exclusive to the person or business who has taken the rights and infringements could cost a heavy damage to the law breaker.

2. Copyright Protection :
Copyright protects the expression of the idea and not the idea itself unlike Patents which protects the idea itself. Copyrights are taken less frequently as compared to patents because of its obvious limitations. In terms of computer software, the source code and object code of the computer program can be copyright protected. Also, some of the original unique elements of the user interface are entitled for the copyright protection. The owner of the software which has been copyrighted gives the owner some exclusive rights. He can sell or distribute copies of his copyrighted software with license to people and anyone who uses these rights without the permission of the copyright owner will be fined for infringement and will be dealt with by the law with fines and other penalties.

One of the most important things which you must know about copyrights is that somebody who creates an original work of authorship does not need to apply for copyright exclusively as it generates automatically. The life of a copyright is life of the author plus 50 years.

3. Trade Secret Protection : 
Trade secrets, as the name suggests are the secrets that the owner chooses not to disclose in public for whatever duration of time he wants. Trade secrets are not filed but are considered as filed ideally unless the secret is disclosed by the owner. In terms of computer software, many elements such as code, ideas and concepts can be kept as trade secrets and are not disclosed to public or any other businesses. There is no particular time frame for trade secrets unlike patents and copyrights as the secret is maintained until it is out.

One of the important aspects of trade secrets that must be known is that trade secrets are not infringed but they are subjected to theft. If the owner can prove that the idea was his original and was kept as a secret for years, somebody who is suspected to be a thief in this matter will be dealt with law. This is applicable for computer software as well.

Information Technology is the backbone of the world economy people in the business cannot afford to lose their assets in the form of infringement and theft and hence they do everything possible to file intellectual property rights as soon as they come up with something new that needs to be protected.

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Ketana Babaria Ms. Ketana Babaria, an advocate and registered patent Agent M. Sc. LL.B PGO-IBM, is of 20 years experience in the field of IPR, worked for generics and giants now leads a team, handling all aspects of patent and legal matters related to the pharmaceutical & non-pharmaceutical.