Selling Your Software? Here Are 6 Tips To Protect Your IP

Computer software is a tangible asset for any organisation or individual and protecting it from any kind of infringement is an absolute necessity. In order to keep pace with the rapid advancement of computer technology, the Canadian computer law has evolved quickly and can protect your software in the following ways:

1. Copyright

One of the principal means using which you can protect your software in Canada is the copyright law. The Copyright Act is responsible for governing the copyright law. It is responsible for protecting original literary, artistic, musical, dramatic works and computer software.

The owner of the Canadian copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce the work as a whole or any substantial part of the work in any form. For instance, the copyright owner of a piece of computer software has the right to stop others from copying his software or making multiple copies of his software through any medium.

When you register your software in Canada for a copyright, you are not expected to file any copy of the software with the Canadian copyright office. Hence, it’s possible to obtain copyright for your software in Canada without disclosing any confidential information about your software. Also, the Canadian copyright law comes into existence at the time of the creation of the software.

2. Patents

Certain specific types of software can be protected by using patents. The patent law in Canada is in place to protect inventions that are new and useful, thus providing the patent filer with exclusive rights till the term of the patent. In order to protect your software using the Canadian patent law, the Canadian patent has to be obtained. In order to obtain a valid patent, full disclosure of the invention must be made in the specified patent. Patents are only granted in Canada for certain kinds of software, hence it’s always better to consult a Canadian patent agent to discuss if your particular piece of software will be eligible for receiving a patent.

3. Trade Secrets and Confidential Information

Laws governing trade secrets and confidential information can be used to protect computer software. The trade secret law came into existence to deal with the breach of confidence. The Supreme Court of Canada has the following tests in place to assert whether there has been a breach of confidence,

  • Information that has been conveyed must be confidential, implying that the information should not be public knowledge.
  • The information has been communicated in confidence.
  • The information has been misused by the party to whom it was conveyed.

A trade secret in Canada is a matter of provincial jurisdiction and hence the drafting and interpretation related to the to the trade secret provision has to be done by a lawyer, in the province which is responsible for governing the obligation of confidence.

4. Contracts

Computer software can also be protected in Canada using contracts. For instance, the owner of copyrighted software can or may enter into a contract with the end user which might restrict the manner in which the end user can use the software. The contract related to computer software can be very straightforward or very complex depending on what the copyright owner wants to permit and/or restrict. The one important thing to remember when drafting a contract to protect your software in Canada is, contract law in Canada is a matter of provincial jurisdiction. Hence, the drafting along with the interpretation related to the contract must be done in compliance with the laws of the provincial government in question.

5. Trademarks

Computer software can be protected using the trademark law in Canada. A trademark consists of one or more words, or number, or designs; it can also be a combination of these. A trademark is used by a business in order to distinguish itself from another business.

6. Integrated Circuit Topography

A computer software that has been embedded on a semi-conductor chip is eligible for protection under Canada’s Integrated Circuit Topography Act.

The Canadian Integrated Circuit Topography came into effect on May 1, 1993. The Act provides protection for original integrated circuit topographies that have been registered under the Act. The design does not necessarily have to be embodied in an integrated circuit product for the act to be applicable.

The owner of a registered topography has a broad range of rights, which includes:

  • The right to exclude others from reproducing a topography that is registered
  • The rights disallow others from manufacturing an integrated circuit product that incorporated the topography in any substantial form
  • The rights to disallow others from importing or commercially exploiting your registered topography in any form.

The Canadian IP laws in place are very apt in protecting your software’s IP. To know more about the IP laws in Canada, get in touch with the legal team at Prowse Chowne.