Intellectual property (IP) "is any product of the human intellect that the law protects from unauthorized use by others." The ability to develop innovative software that addresses marketplace needs is a right that tech startups and even mature technology companies strive to protect. Unfortunately, from a legal perspective, protecting software innovation isn't always easy.
If you develop a breakthrough software solution that also fills a glaring need in the market, according to US patent law, you have several legal protection options for your product:
If you feel that your software IP might have been infringed upon and you choose to take legal action, the court will try to determine whether your software is an original creation. The most straightforward way of doing this is by using analytics to compare the code in your programs to the code in programs that you are alleging have copied your product. However, there are IP legal experts like Bob Zeidman who don't feel these code cross-comparison analytics are enough to uncover and protect against software IP violations.
"Some years ago....I was contacted by a party in a software copyright dispute in Europe," wrote Zeidman in an October 2014 article for IPWatchdog. "One software company had been accused of copying source code from another company. A group of software engineers had left one company to work for the other company; that's the most common reason that software is stolen or accused of being stolen.