Software is an extremely valuable good for those who produce it because it provides value to the software’s end users. That value, however, also makes it a target for those who would prefer to obtain the value without compensating the software producer. As a result, like with any valuable asset, software suppliers and Internet of Things (IoT) companies must implement safeguards to protect it. Since software is intellectual property, attorneys who work for or advise software producers (which, let’s be honest, is just about every technology company these days, given the addition of hardware manufacturers via the ubiquity of their “smart” devices to the existing desktop, mobile, and SaaS applications that we all use in both our personal and business lives), are frequently asked to advise on how to best protect this valuable asset. Unfortunately, as discussed below, most lawyers only deliver half of what they should.
Eight safeguards are essential for a full, robust software protection regime. Despite that, most lawyers talk about only four of them. In their defense, they only learned about four of them in law school, which is why that’s their go-to advice. But in today’s world, lawyers need to go beyond law school and include real-world, practical solutions to augment the legal protections that are their bread and butter. This article will review all eight, but the bulk of the discussion will illustrate the importance and usefulness of the four less-frequently discussed methods.
The first four methods—which lawyers already know about and take action on—focus on protecting software from a purely legal perspective: