the best (and most inexpensive) way of protecting one's intellectual
property during the startup and development phases of a new software
if it is a really good idea, you might consider getting an attorney
anyway. You may find that you save your money (and skin) in the long
run. Here is a good lawyer
finder. Some attorneys might give you some free advice if they anticipate
that you will retain them for the actual officiating of the documents.
Try it, you'll likely be surprised. Also, it is the only way to really
guarantee that you are doing things within the latest legal framework
which with regard to computers is constantly evolving!
Additionally, there is a great book that covers all of this in great
detail. The book is called Patent,
Copyright and Trademark and includes step-by-step processes and
sample forms to do each of the three and does cover tricky topics such
Answer from Student Body:
Since IP cuts a pretty wide definitional swath (any product of the human
intellect) it would be helpful to have a little more info about the
specific IP asset you have. Let's consider a few of the more common
types of IP protection:
This protects expression which is an original work and fixed in a tangible
medium (software, text, art, graphics) While no longer strictly necessary,
it's best to place a copyright notice on every copy. Copyrights can
also be registered with the USPTO (there's a USPTO website in which
you can do this electronically).
protect novel and useful inventions. The primary difference between
patents and copyrights is that patents protect ideas and copyrights
protect the expression of ideas. Getting a patent can be a fairly expensive
and lengthy process but from a cost/benefit standpoint, if you have
a screamer it certainly should be considered.
In the IP context, a trade secret would be a useful process or other
information which has commercial value and is a secret. Note the possible
overlap w/patents. The best way to protect trade secrets is to refrain
from disclosing them to anyone without a good non-disclosure agreement
which prohibits disclosure and limits use to purposes which make you
money. Trade secret protection is generally lost when the information
is disclosed without restrictions on its use and disclosure.
Generally, a good way to protect IP is to be careful about to whom you
disclose it. What to you may seem like sales cycle may be science class
to someone else. Another thing is to make sure what you think you have
is yours. If you developed it working for someone else, or relating
to an employer's business even if developed on your own time, it might
hiring a good lawyer (read: specialist) is optimal. You'll want to have
a written fee agreement with an estimate for the work you want done
and, most importantly, a lawyer who you feel you can trust. If anything
a lawyer tells you doesn't pass the common sense test, it's time for
a second opinion. If finances prohibit getting professional help, Nolo
Press puts out a great set of books on patents and copyrights. Hope
it all works out.
THE ABOVE IS PROVIDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY AND SHOULD
NOT BE CONSTRUED AS SPECIFIC LEGAL ADVICE. (READ: IT AIN'T MY PROBLEM)
Please double check this information and don't
just take our word for it. Use this information at your own risk.