Intellectual Property Protection for Computer Programs – Part I

This post was first published on 28th August, 2014.

A computer program is an intellectual creation and can be protected by Intellectual Property (IP) Law, particularly by Copyright and Patent Laws. The manner of IP protection for computer programs is a hot topic of debate, primarily due to the fact that current IP regimes are not effective in dealing with their protection comprehensively. There is a lot of ambiguity with regard to their protection because of the technical complexities in computer programs and the difficulty in integrating them with existing IP laws.

Software does not fit comfortably into established legal categories. For instance, there is a lot of confusion when it comes to allowing protection of software under the Copyright Law without extending the copyright protection to ideas, and the scope of Patent protection of computer programs, as such, is opposed to its protection of computer-implemented inventions. Thus, these IP regimes seem to be unsuccessful in providing effective protection to computer programs, resulting in the need for the establishment of a more practical mechanism for this purpose.

Creation of a computer program is not an easy process, nor is it inexpensive. A lot of resources and time go into the making of even a single piece of software with minimal functions. Companies that invest huge amounts of money into the creation of such a software expect to get adequate returns in a short period of time, considering the fact that a software becomes obsolete very quickly in this fast paced era of technology and cut throat competition, with software upgrades almost every minute, aiming to get ahead in the market. Thus, a need was felt for the protection of computer programs, as the creation of it involves substantial skill and labor as well as huge financial resources. Owing to the developments in technology by which anything can be replicated, makers of computer programs stand to lose a lot without a legal mechanism in place to protect the investments made in these programs.

Through a series of blog posts, we shall examine the IP protection of computer programs, particularly under the Copyright and Patent Laws, so as to understand the benefits and flaws of these IP regimes when it comes to the protection of computer programs.

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