A Minnesota intellectual property law firm

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Software License Considerations

So your firm has developed a new software package and wants to put it on the market. Your lawyer will want you to consider these things to protect your firm with an ironclad license agreement.

You might be infringing on someone else’s patent or copyright.

Is the package intended to be off-the-shelf or customized software?

Present employees, former employees, independent contractors, funding sources, or competitor businesses may claim ownership in your invention.

Laws governing export of products may dictate how you launch your product and where you sell it. Additional factors apply depending on whether you intend to export by means of electronic commerce, traditional commerce, or by disclosure to foreign nationals.

Patent protection is not automatic. You may need to apply for a patent. You may also better protect your rights with copyright notice and/or registration.

Will you monitor your licenses to minimize pirating of your software?

What aspects of your software are trade secrets (e.g., the architecture, empirical formulas, mathematical constants, and/or the software itself)?

What form will your software license take? Will it be written, implied through use, automatic upon breaking the shrink-wrap, or through on-line registration? Will you have an open source license?

Are you protecting yourself from liability for harm caused by your software?

How are you going to set the price for your software?

Do you intend to distribute the software yourself, or through a third party? Will your software be available through disks or online downloads – or both?

What are your firm’s plans with respect to release of future versions of the software or development of new software?

Will you provide technical support for your software?

Will you provide source code and/or permit the user to modify the software?

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