Should I Register A Copyright in My Software?

Should I Register A Copyright in My Software?

Copyright, Intellectual Property, Software
Many software developers (as well as lawyers) focus entirely upon patent protection for the software code, oftentimes ignoring enormously valuable Copyright registration entirely. For reasons I outline in this post, Federal Copyright law is arguably the single most important legal protection available to you as a creator of software code. Copyrights explained (again) As I’ve written in earlier posts, a copyright in a work gives you an exclusive right to do a number of things with the work, such as copy, distribute, display, perform, or make adaptations to that work, among other rights. Copyright law says that no one else can do of these things with your work without your permission. Copyright protection is actually available for all copyrightable expression embodied in a computer program. Now notice how I said…
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How Do I Register a Copyright?

How Do I Register a Copyright?

Copyright, Copyright Infringement
While U.S. trademark registration takes up the bulk of our Phoenix intellectual property law practice, lately my office is seeing more and more interest in copyright registration lately.  A common question I get from current and potential clients is, how much does it actually cost to register a copyright? What does it even mean to "copyright" something anyway? Before I answer the question posed in the title, it's usually helpful to clear up some what it means to "copyright" something, whether it's a poem, drawing, song, video you uploaded to YouTube or whatever. Frankly, when someone says they want to "copyright" something, the phrase is basically meaningless from the legal standpoint. An owner's copyright (i.e., the exclusive right to display, reproduce, perform, etc.) in a work they've created attaches as…
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Is Your Customized Software a ‘Work for Hire’?

Is Your Customized Software a ‘Work for Hire’?

Contracts, Copyright, Employment Agreements, Independent Contractor
Your company just hired someone to help develop your new mobile app. Your agreement with this programmer or engineer does say that anything she creates for you is a "work made for hire". So your business is good, right? No way that the new hire can ever claim ownership to any of the deliverables, correct? In my Phoenix technology law practice, I hear this a lot as it pertains to software and app development.   Unfortunately, the term "work made for hire" or, more colloquially, "work for hire", is a term as misunderstood by companies as it is misused. "Work Made for Hire" Doctrine Explained Generally, a work that is subject to copyright is automatically the property of the person who created it (assuming that author has not transferred some or…
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Yes, Your Website Needs a DMCA Agent. Here’s Why.

Yes, Your Website Needs a DMCA Agent. Here’s Why.

Copyright, Copyright Infringement
As a Phoenix law firm focusing on the needs of e-commerce and online services companies, I often see website owners who have selected a DMCA designated agent in their Terms of Service or Terms of Use but have done little else beyond that. What they don't know is that this failure to take necessary steps after selecting their Designated Agent could be a serious (if not costly) oversight. What is The DMCA? Just because a copyrighted work is on the Internet or in digital form, doesn't mean copyright no longer applies. However, while it is a lot harder to copy an author's book or an artist’s painting in the physical world, reproducing or displaying a digitized work in cyberspace is as easy as a couple clicks of a mouse or…
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Intellectual Property Protection for Secret Recipes

Copyright, Craft Brewing, Intellectual Property, Restaurants, Trademark
As a Phoenix business lawyer that represents more than a few clients in the food industry, I'm often asked by restauranteurs, craft brewers, and aspiring sauce/dressing tycoons how to best protect their secret recipe for...well, you name it.  As with most things in the law, the answer is rarely one-size-fits-all and depends on a variety of factors and the client's objectives and business strategy.  This article summarizes a few of the most common questions I'm asked on the subject, as well as my general answers: Why not patent my recipe? Patent laws are commonly used to protect inventions and processes and usually are not the best approach for protecting your secret recipe. First off, as there are really only so many ways you can formulate spaghetti sauce or brew a…
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