These five easy actions will provide critical protection for your most important software assets:
Sign a written employment agreement with each employee, making clear that (a) your company – and not the employee — owns all code developed for the company; and (b) the employee may not use or share or transfer company code for non-company purposes.
Sign a written agreement among all founders, whereby each founder (a) transfers ownership of all pre-existing relevant software to your company; and (b) may not use or share or transfer company code for non-company purposes.
Sign a written development agreement with every outside developer before work starts, making it clear that (a) your company — and not the outside developer — owns all developed code; (b) such developed code is a “work made for hire” under the U.S. Copyright Act; and (c) developed code can not be used, copied, transferred, or disclosed to anyone other than your company.
Embed arbitrary markers in your code, such as a string with your company name, random lines of useless code, and arbitrary comments, in order to assist in proving code copying.
Register source code with the U.S. Copyright Office to minimize harm to your company and maximize available remedies against infringers. Registration of source code also protects compiled code and UI’s from unlawful copying, use, and sale.
For questions on protecting your software, contact Mitch Shelowitz, Managing Partner, Shelowitz Law Group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For real time updates on new U.S. software copyright infringement cases follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchShelowitz