If you have developed proprietary software, registering your software with the U.S. Copyright Office should be one of your top priorities. Original software code is protected under U.S. copyright law as a creative expression by the programmer. Registering your software with the Copyright Office is relatively simple and will be necessary should you need to enforce your intellectual property rights.  In this blog, we explore why you should consider copyrighting your software as soon as possible.

Protecting Your Code with a Copyright Registration

Copyright applies automatically when you create an original work, which includes original computer code.  By holding the copyright to the original software, you can stop others from copying your software, but you cannot stop others from creating the same or similar software independently or reverse engineering your software’s functionality.

However, by registering your code, you place the world on notice that the software is yours and is protected.  A registration is also strong evidence of your ownership of the work.  Accordingly, with a federal registration, your ability to enforce your intellectual property rights becomes far stronger.

Eligibility for Statutory Damages

Not only will you have a far easier time proving infringement of your copyright if it is registered, but you could also recover greater damages.  Registering your copyright will make

you eligible to receive statutory damages. A judge will set the amount of statutory damages per infringed work.  If the infringement is willful, statutory damages could run over $100,000 per infringement. Accordingly, the availability of statutory damages can often support a substantial monetary award.

Steps to Register Your Software

Registering your copyright is a relatively simple and straightforward process.  Your application with the United States Copyright Office will require a completed application form and the filing fee.  Along with your application, you will need to include a copy of a portion of the software. Filers should be aware that the sample will become a matter of public record, so source code that reveals trade secrets should be redacted.  Software programmers should contact an intellectual property attorney for assistance with protecting their valuable code.

The legal team at Dunlap, Bennett & Ludwig are experts in the area of technology transactions and licensing, with a client list that ranges from major tech firms to early venture startups. If you need advice on how to navigate the copyright registration process for your proprietary software, contact us today.

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Posted in: Copyright, Intellectual Property

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