Intellectual property rights serve as the foundation upon which the global software industry operates. In this industry, intellectual property rights provide owners with intangible rights of ownership to software programs and other software assets. These rights include patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and trademarks. Of these, trademarks are the most notable because trademarks do not protect software in the same way that other forms of intellectual property do.
Trademarks and Software Protection
Any person or business which can be identified as the originator of any software may register for a trademark. Trademarks serve to protect the name of any software. They also protect its logo and taglines while preventing any business rivals from using similar names for their products. Through protection of important symbols and names, they help a business create a unique identity within the software market. Thus, trademarks provide ample protection for software brands. However, it should also be noted that trademarks do not protect the code which runs the software. They also do not protect the software program itself from either imitation or replication. For this purpose, one should seek copyright protection instead of trademark protection.
Why Trademark Protection for Software is Important
The highly connected nature of the software market increases the importance of trademark protection for software. For example, programs and apps which often have similar names and purposes compete for customers in app marketplaces. Often, the owners of these apps become engaged in trademark disputes. Should one of the app’s owners happen to own a trademark, the owner can provide proof of this ownership and thus evidence that trademark rights have been violated. The authority in charge of the app marketplace will then remove the app which violated trademark rights. This does not only apply to apps; it is relevant for all forms of software.
Another reason why it is especially important to receive trademark protection for software is the nature of popularity of software and apps. The popularity of all but the most popular software and apps takes a sharp fall after several months. Therefore, it is imperative to seek trademark protection as soon as possible; otherwise, it might not be possible to reap maximum financial benefits from the software.
Software Trademarks Combined with Copyrights and Patents
Software trademarks work best when they are combined with copyrights and patents. Software which is created as original code can be protected by use of a copyright. In Malaysia, a copyright allows the creator to deny anyone else the right to copy the code for the rest of the creator’s life as well as the subsequent 50 years. It is important to protect the code of software by using a copyright because without doing so, others may incorporate or modify that same code via unethical means. Doing so would violate the creator’s rights.
If the software in question changes a system, method, process, or device to make it a completely new one, it may be possible to seek patent protection. In this case, the patent does not protect the software itself. It protects the system, method, process, or device related to the software instead. Patent rights in Malaysia provide their owner with 20 years of exclusive rights. This means that for 20 years, only the owner is permitted to produce, use, or sell the invention related to the software.
Trademarks clearly do a great deal to keep software and everything associated with it out of the wrong hands. Alongside patents and copyrights, trademarks provide those who own software with a greater degree of ownership over their creations. Therefore, if you can protect your software’s name and logo through a trademark, you’ll have given it one important layer of protection. Then, apply for a patent and copyright, and you’ll have everything you need to protect your software from infringements.
This article brought to you by Exy Intellectual Property Malaysia