digital faqs

Digital FAQs

Can we patent our software?

 

We use contractors in our software business – presumably, though, they don’t have any rights?

 

Someone else seems to have brought out a product which looks pretty much the same as ours – surely they have breached our rights?

 

Is getting people to “click to accept” our terms as good as them actually reading and agreeing a proper document

 

We’ve got these banks wanting to take our software – are we okay signing their agreements?

 

Our customers want our source code – we’re nervous about this – is there an alternative?

 

If I use open source components, does that cause me any problems?

 

Why do so many IT projects go wrong - and what happens when they do?

 

 

Can we patent our software?

 

Generally, no – there is a specific exclusion in European law against being able to patent computer programs (unlike the USA); however there are ways round this, particularly if the program achieves a “technical effect”. We are able to work closely with patent attorneys to explore the options. Usually, though, software is covered by copyright.

^Top

 

We use contractors in our software business – presumably, though, they don’t have any rights?

 

You have to be very careful with this – unless there are agreements which say otherwise, works created by employees belong to the company – but works created by contractors belong to them. You need agreements in place at the outset to ensure they belong to the company.

 ^Top

 

Someone else seems to have brought out a product which looks pretty much the same as ours – surely they have breached our rights?

 

There has been a long-running issue as to whether there is any “ownership” in look-and-feel; but it seems to be pretty clear that there isn’t, following a number of court cases about this. As long as the products are based on different code and the “look” doesn’t have particularly literary or artistic merit, rights are unlikely to have been breached.

^Top

 

Is getting people to “click to accept” our terms as good as them actually reading and agreeing a proper document

 

It’s well known that people very rarely read the terms on “click-to-accept”, and therefore ironically they therefore gain the protection of unfair contract terms legislation; if any of the terms are deemed to be unfair they may well not be binding.

^Top

 

We’ve got these banks wanting to take our software – are we okay signing their agreements?

 

No, definitely not – the terms are drawn up to achieve maximum advantage for them, and may well involve you signing away your ownership of essential rights. You need to be very careful in this situation, and be prepared and equipped to argue for your own form of agreement, or to renegotiate their standard terms.

^Top

 

Our customers want our source code – we’re nervous about this – is there an alternative?

 

The start-point is that your source-code represents your crown jewels – you need to protect this. what you may be able to agree is the deposit of the source code with an “escrow agent” - an expert third party who is authorised to release the source code for limited purposes, in limited circumstances e.g. if your business fails.

^Top

 

If I use open source components, does that cause me any problems?

 

Potentially, this could make the source code of your own work open source, which might mean that you have to make your source code available to others. In part this depends on the open source licence under which the code you have used is distributed. This is a complex area, but one in which you need to be very wary and careful.

^Top

 

Why do so many IT projects go wrong - and what happens when they do?

 

IT projects are notoriously liable to problems for a number of reasons. Some products are oversold by suppliers, whose salespeople are happy to answer "Yes" to every query about abilities. Frequently also the buyer has an imperfect understanding of what it wants at the outset, and fails to specify its needs correctly or in sufficient detail. This leads to misunderstandings, or "project creep" where the buyer changes what it wants as time goes by, without understanding the technical and cost implications. If the parties do not address issues promptly and maturely, and at the right level, projects can become disasters, with hugely expensive litigation and no winners. Any project of substance should have consultation and dispute resolution procedures built in; and the parties also need to understand the alternative development methodologies (such as Agile) which may be available.

^Top

 

 
 
 
 

News

 

Twitter

 

 

LinkedIn

 

View our LinkedIn profile here and get linked in...

Media

 

Facebook

 

Join us on Facebook to share thoughts and ideas and hear our news

 

Berwins Solicitors

Berwins Solicitors
2 North Park Road
Harrogate
North Yorkshire
HG1 5PA

DX 25505

T: 01423 509000
 

Law@berwin.co.uk

Find out more

About Us
Where you can 'Meet Our People'
About our Charity Work
Get in touch with us 

Berwins is the trading name of Berwins Solicitors Ltd registered in England with number 6874412 at 2 North Park Road Harrogate HG1 5PA  and registered and authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority number 510280

  

 


In Harrogate and
Leeds Waterfront