If you or your company develops software, you want to protect it from theft, but should you patent it or register it for copyright? It depends on what you want to shield, although both forms of intellectual property (IP) might be appropriate because they protect different parts of the software.

Copyrights protect artistic expression, and written software source code is considered a literary work under the United States Copyright Act. However, under Title 17 United States Code § 102(b) of the Copyright Act, the idea behind the code is not protected. You need a patent for that. Patents protect inventions or original ideas, which will keep others from using your software source code without permission regardless of whether they have plagiarized it. If you or your company develops software, a Boca Raton software patent and copyright lawyer can help you protect it.

The Copyright Test for Software

A 1992 lawsuit led to the adoption of a three-part test to determine whether the copyright of an owner’s software code has been violated. The three parts include:

  • Abstraction, which divides the code’s expression from the ideas behind it.
  • Filtration, which removes the code parts that do not qualify for copyright protection, such as algorithms that are not creative expression, although the way they are put together can be protected.
  • Comparison, which looks at the original copyrighted work side by side with the alleged copy to see if they are identical or almost identical.

Copyrighted works allow the owner to make and distribute copies of the software, translate it into other languages, or abridge it.

When an unauthorized party commits these acts, in most cases they are infringing on the copyright owner’s rights and could be liable for monetary damages. Injunctive relief and attorney’s fees are also granted if infringement is proven. Copyrights last the owner’s entire life, plus 70 years in the United States. A Boca Raton software copyright lawyer ensures a product remains in the owner’s legal possession and that they can hold an infringer accountable if it is stolen.

Patent Protection for Software

Patents guard inventions and original ideas from thieves who intend to use, import, or sell someone else’s software without paying for the license. Court proceedings begin with a lawyer dispatching a cease-and-desist letter and, if the culprit is unresponsive, filing a federal lawsuit. Upon proving patent infringement, owners can recover monetary damages, attorney’s fees, and will receive injunctive relief.

What a Patent Must Show

Software developers and other inventors can file declarations to register patents with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). These declarations must show that the software being registered is original, useful, and contains a non-obvious function or piece of code.

Patents protecting software are usually utility patents, one of the three types granted along with design and plant patents. Utility patents qualify as machines, processes, compositions of matter, or articles of manufacture. Patents live for 20 years before entering the common domain. Our software patent lawyers in Boca Raton spend time with our clients so they feel comfortable about how their artistic expressions and inventions are protected from theft.

Ask a Boca Raton Software Patent and Copyright Attorney to Protect Your Work

Intellectual property protection dates to the founding fathers and has been instrumental in American business success. Ensuring that others cannot steal a crucial component of your business means what you envision and create is yours to manage.

If you are ready to protect your proprietary software, you have come to the right law firm. We not only register declarations with the appropriate federal office, but we stop thieves from plagiarizing, using, selling, or profiting from your property. Call now to schedule a consultation with a Boca Raton software patent and copyright lawyer who can properly represent and protect you.