Websites and software deserve special mention, because both often involve several of the types of intellectual property discussed above and sometimes can have issues with all of the types of intellectual property. Websites and software are at the core of many businesses. Websites are used for marketing and sometimes sales. Software is used to monitor and perform critical aspects of the business.
There are many layers of intellectual property issues associated with websites. It starts with patents that have been issued for certain processes used on websites (e.g., checkout processes for on line ordering). Websites tend to make company names, product names and other marketing names and slogans much more visible. For companies that have not taken steps to assure themselves that the names and slogans are not infringing the rights of registered trademark owners, the creation of a website can result in a cease and desist letter from the owners of registered trademarks as well as a claim for damages. The source and originality of content used on a website is also a concern. If a company has borrowed content from other businesses websites or printed materials, display of that content may trigger a cease and desist letter, as well as a claim for damages. When obtaining content from others to use on a website, it is important to make sure the party you are dealing with has the right to use and license that content. If content for a website is created for you by third parties, you need to have appropriate agreements in place to provide you with ownership of that content. We assist clients with all of these issues and many more associated with websites and the use of software.
We also represent software developers with respect to the protection and licensing of computer software. While patents, copyrights, trade secrets and trademarks may all be used to protect software, copyright and trade secret protection are the most common. One can obtain copyright registration without revealing all of the source code of the software, which makes it possible for copyright protection and trade secret protection to both be used to protect software. Patents are used to protect the process embodied in particular software when the process meets the other criteria for obtaining a patent. For all types of software, license agreements are a critical part of the protection scheme, regardless of whether you are providing software as a downloadable product, or as a service over the internet using an ASP, SAAS or other model. The Firm has experience in all forms of software licensing and more than thirty years of experience representing both licensors and licensees.