If you’re in the business of software development, copyright law may be the main pathway toward protecting your IP. But no matter what the core of your business is, you’re most likely licensing copyrights into your organization via software licenses. Copyrights can turn up in your business in a number of ways:
Most modern businesses have software closely tied in to their core functions. But it is common for business owners and employees not to understand the true scope of the licenses they are operating under. A review of your existing software licenses, and an ongoing process for monitoring new licenses as they are entered into, can show surprising results regarding ownership of generated intellectual property and the scope of allowed activities.
Software License Disputes and Audit Responses
Your business software licensors (that is, the people who make and sell the software you use) may at times want to know whether you are using software appropriately. To do this, they may invoke an audit clause in your commercial software license. Responding to these requests doesn’t have to be difficult, but doing it with the help of an attorney experienced in the process can save time and work on your part and increase the chances that you’ll be happy with the audit results.
Open Source Licenses
Software companies often enter into dozens or hundreds of open source licenses without understanding the impact those licenses have on their business. Sometimes the number and scope of these licenses aren’t known even at the time a company is preparing itself for sale or looking for outside investment. In those cases, handling numerous complex and potentially conflicting open source licenses can be a huge chore and may turn into a legal liability.
We are experienced in helping clients understand the open source licenses they are already subject to. We also help clients to evaluate and change their procedures for using external code to minimize exposure to open source license problems.
Click here to read our post on the basics of copyright law.
And see our post on the intersection of copyright law and contracts here.