Intellectual property rights and Code Review
Intellectual property rights and Code Review
The computers are taking over the world. All these digital tools also have legal sanctions and are protected under the Patents, Copyrights, Warranty-Liability and Open Source Software Licenses in US. Any bright ideas, original invention, artistic work, designs, and symbols are all protected under Intellectual property rights.
If we go by this definition, the source code of any program also becomes subject to protection under Intellectual property rights and any infringement of the same would attract Patent or Copyright Litigation. With the extensive variety in programming languages and code execution, reviewing codes take a place of high importance. There are a lot of tools in the market that helps in accurate code reviews to detect issues, and Codegrip is one such tool that provides you with an automated code review.
In today’s blog let us try to see how code review acts as an asset when you go into IP Litigation:
1) The relation between Code and Patent or Copyright Litigation:
The relationship between Code and IP is horizontal because it cuts through both lines of Patent (software) and Copyrights (licensing). Coding is something that the programmers do and it’s a detailed plan for the software, while the actual software is the end product. Patent law allows companies to claim temporary exclusive rights to technologies that are independent of their software implementations.
This Copyright law is applied to unauthorized redistribution or use of software; compiled or otherwise. The source code of any program is protected just like books as this code is considered a piece on a non-complied version of the software.
Thus when you enter into litigation for a patent or copyright, you need a code review to understand where the infringement or plagiarism has taken place. This means that you will review both the original and the infringed code to locate what is similar or the same issues or peculiarities.
The cases for IP Litigation especially where the question of patent and copyright law is the issue in question, a source code review becomes the most important tool to locate similarities. Pieces of evidence from these reviews are a strong argument for infringement of any product. Your trade secrets are also a part of this protection.
2) How to tell if your Source Code is infringed:
With all the technical issues, it does get hard to check if your source code is infringed. Most of these cases involve a violation of the owner’s exclusive right to make copies.
The first two main things you need to check are:
a) That the said infringer had access to your work.
b) The work that is infringed is substantially similar to your work.
Normally a source code is never shown publicly unless it is covered under Open Source Software licenses. It is the object code that actually controls the program when it is being executed. Even if these two are distinct, they are considered to form the same code just in different formats and are thus safeguarded under the same copyright.
If the software is infringed, it is known as ‘Software Piracy’. It occurs when there is a reproduction, use or distribution without the express permission of its author. If any such form is noticed by you then there is a high possibility that the source code was also stolen or duplicated.
Normally the copyright law protects the form of expression of the idea and not the idea itself. In software, this means that computer programs, in both source code and object codes are eligible for copyright protection. With proper source code review, critical evidence can be collected while facing litigation.
You need a good analyst to check the code without much access to the code. Source code analysis requires different skill sets and the use of particular tools like Codegrip to prepare a comprehensive report and convey the findings to you. Like we said above, this report can be used in the Court of law to show the substantial similarities between two separate codes.
3) What to do in case of a Source Code Infringement:
When you have a suspicion about a possible code infringement, there are several steps that you can undertake in order to make the Copyrights law grants you the necessary protection and remedy.
For this, you will firstly need to get copyright registration for your source code. You can register your code by creating an account and submitting an online application.
It contains three main elements:
1. A Completed Application form.
2. A nonrefundable filing fee.
3. A nonrefundable deposit – a copy or copies of work.
Registration can happen to be done through eCO or by filing physical forms according to category.
After that, you will need to do the following.
a) Perform a proper code review and scan for duplication with Codegrip. This means you need to scan both codes separately and then locate substantial similarities.
b) If it is possible for you, try getting the code used for the infringed content from the infringer for comparing it with the original code.
After the due process of filing a case in the Court, the Court would compare the substantial similarity between both the works and decide the merit of the claim accordingly. An experienced Intellectual property rights attorney will be the right path to proceed ahead with Patent or Copyright litigation.
4) What are the points that you need to keep a close eye on while venturing for IP litigation?
Having said this, let’s quickly look at what points you need to keep in mind once you decide to go ahead with litigation.
1. Proof of ownership of the code.
2. Pieces of evidence from code review.
3. Portions of substantial similarities between the works.
4. Check if your code falls under the Open Source Software Licenses.
Recommended read: What is an Open Source License (OSL)?
Intellectual property rights litigation can be a very tricky thing especially if you aren’t aware of the peculiarities of patents and copyrights. Code reviews play a very vital role when you want to go ahead with litigation as they can highlight the similarities and other crucial pieces of evidence for proving infringement.
You can use Codegrip and secure these crucial pieces of evidence and be armored against any possible duplications of your work.