All intellectual properties require protection against theft and illegal use by unauthorized parties. Software is an intellectual property since the development of any software originates from an individual creativity and skills. No one is, therefore, allowed to use any software without permission from the owner having paid the necessary dues and after abiding by the contractual terms of the software usage. This article seeks to define copyright, trade secrecy, and patents while giving the principles of copyright and trade secrecy as the apply to software (Bouchoux, 2013).
A copyright is a method of protection used in the United States to protect the original works of the author as well as the tangible medium of expression. Copyright as an intellectual property protection law protects the works that are published and those that are not published. Some examples of the works protected by the copyright law include dramatic, musical, poetry, computer software, architecture, and literary works among others (Bouchoux, 2013). In the case of software, copyright law protects the origin of the object code in addition to unique characteristics of the original user interface. As such the original owner of the software is granted exclusive rights aimed at rewarding the creative and innovative efforts to developing the software. Under the copyright law, the software developer is given the exclusive rights to duplicate the software.
The Principle Rights of the Owners of the Copyright
The five exclusive rights awarded to the owners of the copyright are meant to help those holding the copyrights to identify their rights. The principle rights include distribution, reproduction, public performance, public display and rights to create derivative works. The right of distribution gives the owner of the copyright the right to distribute the products or service in a manner they like for profits. The individual is also granted the right to reproduce the intellectual property under consideration. The right to public display and performance allows the individual owner of the copyright to show and perform at public places. The right to create derivative works enables one to make transformation work of the invention while the right to reproduce enables one to reproduce the work in any design at any given time (Rowland & McDonald, 2005).
A trade secret is any prized data that can be employed commercially for a competitive advantage of the business. Trade secrets can protect some features of the software like codes and other related concepts. Due to its confidentiality, trade secrets bring out the confidential nature of the features of the software which gives the software developer a competitive edge over other similar software. Protected intellectual properties under trade secrets are prone to theft as the secret may be in one or the other be discovered by others (Rowland & McDonald, 2005). An example in which the trade secret has been enforced is the secret formula of Coca-Cola.
A patent is an exclusive monopoly over a twenty year period granting a right to make, use and a sell an invention that has been qualified. The US patent office grants patents to individuals who have successfully applied for the same. Patents can protect features of the software that cannot be protected by the copyright or trade secrets. As such software patents have been enforced for ideas, algorithms, programs and systems concerning software usage. The applicant of the patent must demonstrate that the invention is new, not obvious and useful (Bouchoux, 2013).