Companies wishing to develop or exploit computer software, or e-commerce methods and the like, typically find themselves protected by copyright in their software code as well as by the possibility of filing one or more patent applications directed to their methods. I have assisted clients with the development of protection strategies around a large number of e-commerce and other types of computer software methods in the past. The patentability of computer software and business methods varies from country to country – in Canada and the United States there is some scope of protection available for many types of software and business methods in terms of patents, whereas in many other corners of the world this is not the case. We have experience in assisting clients with the creation of protection strategies for software and business methods across a variety of markets where different types of intellectual property protection is available.
Issues such as the intellectual property ownership of data and data structures also arise from time to time. For example, where a database company creates a new database software tool, do they necessarily also own the rights to the underlying dataset which is used. Other issues which arise quite often in the context of the computer software industry include issues of ownership around copyright and other intellectual property asset classes – since many times companies use contractors or other third parties to outsource parts of projects and that is important for all the parties to a particular transaction to understand what kind of ownership structure or restrictions might exist on work product which is created. Default statutory ownership provisions vary from country to country and intellectual property type and it is important for software companies to understand this and to capture any necessary information or documentation as projects are developed to ensure that they have whatever is necessary in the long term to enable their forward progress with their intellectual property intensive projects or assets.
Beyond ownership and asset types, other issues which can exist and a rise in the computer software context include trademark and copyright issues around website content. Websites or other computer software platforms or projects often include the creation of a large amount of copyright or trademark content and it is important to again have a proper framework and protective strategy in place for these assets. Conflicts between trade marks and domain names are sometimes encountered in the website development and design process as well and this is another aspect of emotional property legal advice with which we can assist clients as required.
We have assisted software companies with the creation of both locally hosted as well as ASP or SaaS business models and licensing arrangements and the implementation of IP strategies around these different client delivery approaches.